At theHRLink.com we know how frustrating job searches can be. Below you can find a number of our blogs which provide lots of useful tips and tricks which could help you on your job search.
How to write a CV (Free CV template)
Writing a CV can be a stressful and sometimes difficult task, especially if you are starting for scratch. It is very important to make sure your CV is written correctly in a professional way so that you can maximise your chance of getting hired. Use this step-by-step guide to make your CV look professional and impressive!
Although there’s no one size fits all solution for the perfect CV, it should always be clearly formatted and short enough for a recruiter to scan quickly and most importantly tailored to the role you’re applying for.
If you are not sure where to start?
Here are some basic rules to follow when you write a CV:
Personal details: In your personal details you should always have your name as the title instead of Curriculum Vitae. You should also include in this part of your CV is your email, contact number and address and make sure this is clearly presented at the top.
Personal statement: This part is essential for you to stand out from the crowd of other applicants this is why it is the first thing on your CV. Explain who you are, what you are looking for and what you are offering. You have to prove why you are suitable for this job role within one short paragraph.
Key Skills: This part of your CV where you is show off your strengths, you do this by the key skills you have gained from previous employers. Make a list of all the relevant skills and achievements.
Education: This section is where your educational experience and achievements should be listed, make sure you include dates, the type of qualification and the grade you achieved.
Work experience: Work experience will include all of your relevant work starting with your most recent experience first, make sure to include your job title, name of the organisation, the time you spent there and your key responsibilities.
Hobbies and interests: This section should only be added to your CV when you have relevant ones that will back up your skills and help you stand out from the crowd. If it isn’t relevant to the job you are applying for leave this section out.
References: This section should say references are available on request unless you have been directly asked for them in the job posting. Always make sure you have credible references ready these can be from close family friends, previous employer or even a teacher.
Sources: Michael Cheary
How to improve your Job Search
For most people, job hunting is a very long-winded and strenuous ordeal. So, we put together a few helpful tips and hints from our recruitment experts at theHRLink, so that you can make your job search, quick, easy and efficient.
The internet and modern technology have made it easier than ever to apply for jobs and to view vacancies and employers in your area. Due to this, the job market is also more competitive than ever which means it can be extremely hard to actually get one of the jobs that you have applied for. Surprisingly, sending out more applications does not actually increase your chances of being hired. But sending out better quality applications does.
Studies show that 98% of job seekers are eliminated at the first resume screening, meaning only the top 2% of candidates make it through to the interview stage. Also applying for jobs that you’re not qualified for can hurt your chances of employment a lot more than you might think. In fact, some employers even blacklist candidates with irrelevant job applications from future vacancies.
How to become the top 2% of candidates;
Firstly, the best thing you can do to make your job hunt efficient is to only apply for jobs that you actually qualify for. Sometimes this can require some level self-critique before applying for a job vacancy. It helps to always check the requirements for the job vacancy as most employers will usually include the necessary qualifications and experience required for the role. If you do not fit the criteria I would advise not applying for the vacancy even if it appeals to you a lot. This is because almost all employers will not put candidates who do not have the appropriate qualifications or experience through to the interview stage.
When you have found the right job which you qualify for, it is important to make sure your application is suited specifically to the role that you’re applying for. An example of this is to make sure the job title on your CV matches the job title of the vacancy, it is important to give off the impression to the employer that you are perfect for their specific job.
Now that you have refined the amount of jobs which you plan to apply for. The next process is to make your application stand out from the rest.
Most vacancies give the applicant the option to add a cover letter, which surprisingly a lot of candidates do not do. If you have a professional cover letter which persuades (with reason) why the employer should take you into consideration then you should include it, and if you do not already have one I would strongly recommend creating one. In addition to this, an unsuccessful job hunt could be due to a poorly written CV. You can look at ways to optimize your CV in our ‘How to Write a CV’ blog, but a few quick pointers include;
- Avoid listing your work duties and tasks – instead, focus on your achievements.
- Format your CV correctly, ideally in a PDF so that it can be viewed correctly on all devices.
- Displaying your CV in chronological order.
If you refine the amount of jobs you apply for and optimize your applications to stand out from the crowd, you should see an improvement in your job search.
Finally, one last tip which will greatly improve your search for employment is to check out all our vacancies on uk.thehrlink.com where you can find a number of quality vacancies in a wide range of job sectors!
We hope this blog helps and we would like to wish you all the best on your job search!
Graduate interview questions
Ready to start work? Well, it is time to get your answers in check!
No matter what job you’re going for, you will hear a variety of common Interview Questions (from ‘tell me about yourself’ to ‘why should you get this job?’). But as a recent graduate, there’ll also be some that are specific to your situation – and knowing how to answer them correctly could be your key to standing out from the crowd.
Here are a few of the most commonly asked graduate interview questions and our advice on how to answer them.
What was your biggest achievement at university?
Fact: choosing an achievement is just as important as how you explain it.
So, before you answer this question – ask yourself two things: what are they looking for? And what achievement demonstrates that you can do it?
After all, you probably have a number of accomplishments, but not all of them are going to prove your suitability for this particular role. So pick wisely, focusing on the Situation, Task, Action, and Result.
Because not only does an interviewer want to know what you’ve achieved, they also want to know what you did to get there.
Think of school. Think maths. Think ‘showing your working out’. Otherwise, who’s to say your success wasn’t just a fluke?
Right answer: ‘My biggest achievement was juggling six different assignments over one month, and passing each one with a 2.1 or above. Through effective task prioritisation, I was able to distribute my time and efforts evenly, using the difficulty level, deadline date, and length of each project as a guide. It also helped me develop the ability to work well under pressure.’
Wrong answer: ‘Two words: Drinking Champion’
What was the worst part of your course?
Translation: are you able to overcome roadblocks?
Having always been told that negativity is a no go area at an interview, it’s no surprise that this interview classic stumps many interviewees.
Do they really want to hear about what you didn’t like, or is it just a clever ruse to catch you out?
Well, it’s actually a bit of both. You should talk about the struggles or difficulties you encountered, as long as you also demonstrate grit and a strong work ethic in your answer.
In other words, don’t think of it as moaning. Think of it as overcoming hardships.
Right answer: Presentations were probably my least favourite part, as public speaking isn’t really something I’m confident in. However, I understood that as it’s an important skill to have, and it made up a fair portion of my grade, that I should do whatever I could to improve. After a few one-on-one sessions with my tutor and taking a course in public speaking, I managed to build my confidence. It’s still not my favourite thing to do, but it’s certainly something I’m working on.’
Wrong answer: ‘I didn’t really like the 9 am lectures.’
What would your friends say about you?
If this question catches you off guard, you’ll probably face the internal battle of what adjectives you should use. The answer? Only ones that can be backed up by real examples.
Because let’s face it, a vague list of clichés is almost as bad as lying. Instead, simply outline the key attributes needed to do the job, and think about which of those your classmates or colleagues would say you have.
For example, if you’re always taking the lead in group projects? You’re a good leader. Regularly covering shifts at the last minute? Reliable. Prone to speaking up first in a seminar? Insightful.
If you have testimonials whether it is LinkedIn or as part of your studies bring them along to your interview is a great way to score bonus points.
Right answer: My classmates have seen me work in lots of different contexts at uni – and have referred to me as creative and dedicated. This was particularly evident in a recent group presentation, where my insight prompted us to cover something other groups had overlooked. Having worked freelance over the summer, a number of clients have also vouched for these attributes when reviewing my performance.
Wrong answer: ‘That I’m hard-working, loyal, fun…umm, did I say hard-working?’
How many traffic lights are there in Birmingham?
OK, not everything you’re asked is going to be related to your degree – and this random riddle ‘question’ is the perfect example.
You will hear it more if you are going for roles in the creative industries and you have Google to thank for that.
Remember the interviewer isn’t really expecting an accurate answer. They are looking for someone who can use logic, reason and problem-solving skills to pick apart the question and estimate a possible answer.
Right answer: ‘I couldn’t give you an exact number, but I’d start by trying to estimate the number of traffic lights in a square mile based on my personal experience, and then take a shot at the total size of London in square miles. Of course, there would be more traffic lights in the centre than the suburbs, but I’d say it’d be somewhere around 3500? It’d probably be quicker to Google it though.’
Wrong answer: ‘Pass.’
Jobs in Demand
The working world in the UK is forever changing. The popularity of certain jobs and their sectors can fluctuate vastly overtime for a variety of reasons. It goes without saying that these popularity trends directly affect which jobs are in demand.
In the next 10 years, the most in-demand jobs are estimated to look like this;
- Teachers – Some fields of work have an added pressure of being replaced by technology, similar to Charlie’s father in the well-known book and film ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’, however the Teaching industry can’t be replaced by technology due to the inability for artificial intelligence to learn interpersonal skills. But this is only one of the reasons why there is (and will continue to be) a high demand for teaching staff. A fifth of all teachers in the UK plan to leave the profession in the next two years, and a lot of these teachers have the same concerns; ‘Every lesson is a battle’ seems to be the reason for many in this industry which shows a poor job satisfaction rate.
- Sports Therapists – This sector is in demand mainly due to the education system. For a lot of jobs in this sector they require a university level of education which can take a long time to achieve as well of a lot of debt which discourages a lot of individuals to pursue a career in this industry. In addition to this, recent studies show that millennials are more likely to spend there evenings working out at a 24-hour gym rather than at a club. Because of this supply and demand trend, you will more than likely see an increase in Personal Trainer ads over the years.
- Artisans – A lot of the skills needed for jobs in this industry such as Barbers, Butchers etc. tend to be skills which are passed down through generations of families. Due to the way the education system works now, these jobs are often quite unpopular as they aren’t passed down through families or taught in schools which means there are very few young people which choose to go into this type of work.
- Engineering – A certain sector which always has a high demand is, Engineering. This is due to a variety of reasons, one of which is because this industry is hugely male-dominated which can put women off going into a career in this sector, in 2017 surveys from WES Statistics, indicated that only 11% of the entire engineering workforce is female. It is also a job which involves skills and knowledge which is transferable between industries so some workers in this industry sometimes move between industry’s because they have the needed skills to do so.
- Nursing – Another sector also in high demand for similar reasons is Nursing. The Nursing industry is heavily dominated by female workers, in fact 5 out of every 6 workers in the nursing workforce are female. Other reasons that the nursing industry is always in a high demand is because of the extremely high work-load of the NHS. Separately to this, we will always need hospitals to survive, nurses work alongside doctors every day to look after and heal inured, ill and dying people.
- Other jobs on this list include; Skilled Tradespeople, Hospitality and Catering professionals, Veterinary Staff, Salespeople, and Creatives.
If you are struggling to find work, or you are looking for a job in which you will never be out of work; these are the sectors for you.
In this day and age, the job market is extremely competitive, which can be frustrating for many which is why it is important to really put yourself out there, you can do this by; applying for multiple jobs, promoting yourself as a worker on a candidate board and maintaining a professional image on social media (70% of employers say they’ve turned down candidates because of something negative that they have found online).
Enhance your job search today and check out multiple job vacancies on uk.thehrlink.com
Jobs In The IT Industry
Here are some careers to consider in the IT Industry:
What they do: They provide fast and useful technical assistance on computer systems. You will answer queries on basic technical issues and offer advice to solve them.
What you need: An excellent level of computer literacy and general technical know-how. A degree may be preferred by some employers but is by no means essential.
What you can earn: Entry level is around £14,000. Rising to around £25,000 – £30,000 once fully qualified and experienced.
Perfect for: People who enjoy problem-solving.
Our advice: Gain as much experience as you can before you start applying. Try asking a local business for work experience, for example. Even building/rebuilding your own computer at home could help put your passion to the test. Old computers are fairly cheap to pick up and are great for
practice. If all else fails, trying to turn it off and on.
What they do: Using internal and external data to gather informed and commercially viable insights in order to assist a business in their decision-making process. They also assess business models and their integration with technology.
What you need: Education to degree level is pretty standard. However, key skills gained from other areas of employment (such as problem-solving, analysis etc.) and a more general IT/Business background is usually enough for entry-level positions.
What you can earn: Starting salaries will be around £20,000 but could easily top in excess of £40,000 within a few years.
Perfect for: People with excellent analytical skills.
Our advice: If you’re serious about becoming a BA, the direct route is not the only way to go. Working in other parts of a business and understanding how they function, coupled with some more technical IT experience, can help set you apart when the right position comes up.
What they do: Web Developers perform a range of different tasks depending on the company, but typical duties could vary from planning and design elements of a website site through to building and coding it and testing/fixing bugs to help improve performance.
What you need: Web Developers are not required to hold a degree for most entry-level positions. Generally speaking, a good quality development-based qualification, preferably paired with some related work experience, are the main credentials needed.
What you can earn: Entry level is around £15,000. Rising to £30,000+ once proven.
Perfect for: People who like to speak in code (HTML mainly)
Our advice: Treat learning web development just as you would learn a new language. There are plenty of coding tutorials and other online guides to help get you started. Set aside sometime each day and stick to it.
What they do: The main role of a Web Designer is to create the visual elements of a website, controlling everything from the font to the colour palate and everything in between. It may even include uploading content, depending on the size of the employer.
What you need: A good level of technical ability and advanced design skills are essential. A degree is not a necessity, however, many consider an industry-based qualification (or competency in certain programs, such as Adobe Flash and Dreamweaver, a pre-requisite).
What you can earn: Entry level is around £18,000, but will increase to £25,000+ depending on the level of experience.
Perfect for: People who like to make things look pretty.
Our advice: Create your own website and use it to test out your talents. If you’re struggling to think of content, use it to upload your own personal profile and CV.
What they do: Test the latest games for bugs and glitches before they’re released. This involves repeating the same level for hours or even days at a time, playing out every possible scenario and ensuring that all eventualities have been played out.
What you need: A keen interest in the gaming industry and a patient and methodical approach to your work. Degree not essential.
What you can earn: If it’s your first position, around £12,000, increasing to around £20,000 once experienced.
Perfect for: People who like to play their PS3 (and Xbox, obviously).
Our advice: Keep up-to-date with the latest titles and platforms, not to mention any industry news and development. Essentially, play as many games as you can, for as long as you can. Already doing that? Apply now.
Other roles to consider: Network Administrator, Database Developer, Software Developer, Software Engineer…
Jobs in the Hotel and Hospitality sector
Looking for work in the Hotel or Hospitality job sectors?
Whether you are looking for work in a hotel, always dreamt of working for the biggest events, or you have the right skills to take care of guests to the highest level. Well, there is a job for you. Still unsure of your perfect position would be? We might be able to help.
Here are some jobs in the hospitality to consider, we also give you some top tips to help you get there:
What they do: Serve the guests of a hotel or apartment building. They attend the entrances, handle storage, make show or dinner reservations, recommend the best local places to go out, deliver messages, and a carry out a whole host of other tasks to provide guests with the best possible service.
What you need: An outgoing personality. You’ll need to be passionate about where you’re working, with excellent customer service skills and a thorough knowledge of the local area. Generally, you won’t need any specific qualifications as on-the-job training is usually provided.
What you can earn: Around £18,000 as an entry-level salary, but this can quickly rise with the right level of experience.
Perfect for: People who like to help people.
Our advice: First and foremost, if you want to become a concierge you will need to be great with customers. So be sure to demonstrate your customer service skills gained in previous positions when writing your CV. When it comes to an interview, make a list of all the best local restaurants, bars and clubs and calculate their distance to your prospective workplace. That way you can demonstrate your skills straight away.
What they do: Plan and organise a range of events, from family parties and engagements through to product launches, fashion shows, music festivals and more. If you want your event to be bigger and better than anyone else’s, you need to get a good Events Manager.
What you need: To be successful as an Event Manager, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential. If you hate going out and meeting new people, this may not be the role for you. There are no specific qualifications needed to become an Event Manager.
What you can earn: If working for an events company, starting salary will be around £16,000. However, it’s also possible to work in a freelance capacity, and the bigger events will pay tens of thousands of pounds for the right Event Manager.
Perfect for: People who live for putting on a show.
Our advice: In this industry, the experience will count a great deal. Begin building your reputation locally by putting on your own events where you live or offering to help other people. With a good portfolio of work and a network of suppliers built up, employers in the industry will soon begin to take notice.
What they do: Take responsibility for all day-to-day hotel operations. Depending on the size of the hotel, typical responsibilities will include recruiting and supervising staff, managing budgets and dealing with unsatisfied guests. In larger hotels, heads of departments will report to the Hotel Manager, while in smaller/boutique hotels, other areas, such as Marketing and PR, maybe the manager’s responsibility.
What you need: Hospitality management requires every member of the team to work together to ensure the best possible service is provided to the customer, so team working, and leadership skills are vital. Problem-solving and excellent customer service are also extremely important to succeed.
What you can earn: Around £30,000 on average, but the position can prove to be extremely lucrative with some good experience within the industry.
Perfect for: People who thrive on responsibility and top-tier service.
Our advice: To become a Hotel Manager, you will generally need to work your way up. Find a position in a hotel or chain you’re passionate about and start from there. Front of House staff, for example, could be a good starting point. Once in the right role, volunteer to help with some of the lower-level management responsibilities and begin building your credentials from there.
What they do: Housekeepers work in both private households and commercial establishments (such as hotels or residential homes) and ensure a clean, comfortable and tidy environment is maintained. Key tasks can include cleaning, catering, laundry and some facilities management.
What you need: A good work ethic, dedication and acute attention to detail. Your work also needs to be of a consistently high standard, in every area you’re working in. No prior qualifications are necessary.
What you can earn: The average salary is around £20,000 but can reach £30,000+ with the right level of experience.
Perfect for: People who consider themselves neat freaks.
Our advice: Don’t limit yourself to solely searching for jobs in the hotel industry. Establishments from holiday centres to health clubs employ housekeepers, not to mention private employers. If you’re struggling to make a start, offer your housekeeping skills to a friend. At the very least, they’ll be able to provide some basic experience and a reference for prospective employers.
What they do: Plan, organise and oversee a couple’s wedding day, either from start to finish or just a few of the key elements. Typical duties range from devising themes, discussing budgets and contacting suppliers through to organising the venue and coordinating events on the big day.
What you need: Excellent organisational skills, and the ability to make decisions under pressure. Trustworthiness is also essential, and you’ll always need to be able to communicate well with your clients, no matter how stressful the situation. A degree is not necessary.
What you can earn: Initial salary may start at around the £16,000 mark, but successful Wedding Planners may earn closer to £25,000.
Perfect for: People who always love being around weddings.
Our advice: If you’re passionate about wedding planning but aren’t sure whether pursuing it as a career is right for you, try taking a course in the industry fundamentals. Not only will this demonstrate whether you have what it takes to seriously consider wedding planning as a job, but it will also help provide a valuable qualification which could help get you started.
What they do: They’re in charge of the entire kitchen, taking control of everything from food orders and stock control through to managing staff, preparing new menus and producing new dishes to add to a restaurant’s repertoire.
What you need: Aside from excellent cooking skills, to be a successful Head Chef you will need to lead by example. Strong communication skills, drive and self-motivation are essential, as is the ability to delegate tasks effectively. A degree is not necessary.
What you can earn: Around £30,000, although this will vary depending on location and size of restaurant (not to mention your reputation).
Perfect for: People who like to be in control.
Our advice: You will need an extensive level of kitchen experience to become a Head Chef, particularly at Sous Chef level. Wherever possible, volunteer to help with some of the lower-level management responsibilities your Head Chef undertakes, ordering and inventories for example. That way you’ll have some vital experience you’ll need to become a Head Chef to add to your CV.
What they do: Carry out most of the basic tasks which are essential for the smooth running of a kitchen. Typical duties for a Porter include washing up, cleaning kitchen appliances, washing work surfaces, unloading deliveries and, in some cases, even basic food preparation.
What you need: The ability to work quickly and efficiently as part of a team, not to mention the capability to work under your own initiative. This is an entry level position in the catering industry, and therefore experience and qualifications are generally not necessary.
What you can earn: Kitchen Porters will earn between £12,000 and £14,000, although this may be higher if working in a busier restaurant.
Perfect for: People who want to break into the catering industry.
Our advice: It’s hard work being a Porter, but it often pays dividends in the long run. Not only is it a great way to remain flexible and earn some supplementary cash, it will allow you to gain essential experience in the kitchen environment and can often lead on to more culinary focussed careers as a result.
What they do: Manage all aspects of a restaurant. Typical duties of a Restaurant Manager include organising bookings, overseeing and recruiting staff, dealing with complaints, making sure the premises adheres to health and safety regulations, maintaining budgets and looking after the financial state of the business.
What you need: Excellent interpersonal and customer service skills and the ability to manage many staffs efficiently and effectively. A degree may not be necessary, although specific qualifications will help get you started.
What you can earn: Initial salary may start at around £20,000, but successful Restaurant Managers will go on to earn £35,000+.
Perfect for: People who are business minded and want to work in the catering industry.
Our advice: To be successful as a Restaurant Manager, you will need to know the business inside out. For this reason, try and avoid job hopping if you’re looking to move into this role. Having fewer front-of-house jobs, but working your way up through the company, will generally stand you in good stead when it comes to other applications.
What they do: A Sous Chef is second in command to a Head Chef, in charge of the more practical elements of food preparation, rather than the more business-led responsibilities of their boss. It’s their job to help oversee all kitchen duties, supervising the preparation and cooking of food and ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the kitchen.
What you need: First and foremost, excellent food preparation skills. The kitchen is a fast-paced, stressful environment, so the ability to keep calm under pressure is essential. Efficiency and the ability to prioritise tasks are similarly invaluable. A degree is generally not a pre-requisite, although a certain level of experience will be necessary to become a Sous Chef.
What you can earn: Starting salary will be around the £20,000 mark, rising to around £28,000 and above for a Senior Sous Chef.
Perfect for: People who are passionate about food.
Our advice: As with Head Chefs, to become a Sous Chef you will need to have a few years of experience in other kitchen roles. If possible, try and spend some time working at every position available to you. Not only will this give you a better understanding of other areas, it will also make it easier to supervise staff when you know the roles inside out.
What they do: Serve food or drinks at restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels, and several other establishments. Several waiting and bar staff also work at big events, serving customers at festivals, trade shows and sporting or music events, for example.
What you need: A friendly and welcoming demeanour, an outgoing personality and the ability to remember a variety of orders under pressure. Patience (when dealing with customers) will also be a virtue.
What you can earn: If full-time and permanent, salary can range from anywhere between £14,000 and £20,000 for an entry level position. However, many choose to work in a part-time capacity, and hourly rates will vary depending on where you work. Lucrative tips are also a potential perk in this position.
Perfect for: People people.
Our advice: In most cases, starting out in entry level positions will require little in the way of pre-requisites. However, they are often competitive roles to go for. To help set you apart when sending your application, make sure to highlight some of the key skills needed to be successful in these positions (confidence, outgoing personality, ability to multi-task etc.), and give examples of times you’ve demonstrated them effectively.
Other jobs in hotel and hospitality to consider: Reservations, receptionist, hotel porter, events staff, Barista, Pastry Chef, Chef de Partie.
Here are some of our top tips for finding a job in the hotel and hospitality industry:
- Get experience – Many roles in this industry require exceptional people skills. So, if you don’t think you excel in this area, immerse yourself in other client-facing roles. These could include sales, customer service and restaurant/bar work.
- Demonstrate your skills – Pick out the most relevant attributes from the job description and tailor your CV to emphasise them. If it’s local knowledge you need, make sure to get this across whenever you can.
- Be flexible – many hospitality roles require you to work outside of the standard office 9-5. Ensure you can demonstrate your willingness to work early mornings, evenings and weekends.
- Build contacts – With events and the more reputable hotels, often knowing the right people can help you to secure work in the future. The best way to do this? Excel at your job and get noticed for the right reasons.
- Start learning – If you need an extra qualification to back up your soft skills, take a course or sign up for an internship to help take you to the next level.
- Be practical – Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. It’s not unheard of for Kitchen Porters to go on to be Chef de Partie’s in a matter of years.
- Demonstrate your skills – Pick out the most relevant attributes from the job description and tailor your CV to emphasise them.
- Focus – Where do you want your career to take you? ‘I want to work in catering’ will not give you the direction you need to succeed.
- Make sure you’re up-to-date – Keep an eye on the latest developments in the food industry and (for chefs) try and incorporate any new trends into your own dishes.
- Learn by doing – In this industry, experience is everything. Sign up for an internship or voluntary/work-experience position and learn the ropes. With the right mentor, it may even lead to something more permanent.
Preparing for an Interview
Whether you are new to job hunting or you’re a well-practiced interviewee. Research and effective preparation is absolutely essential to guarantee interview success. Never attempt to ‘wing it because it will only ever end badly or with a lot of awkward silences which you or the employer want.
In this post we are going to cover out top tips on how to prepare for when you are invited for a face to face interview:
The first thing you need to do is to know what to prepare for.
Aside from giving you an insight into the role and organisation, good interview preparation will also give you some all-important confidence. Let’s face it, no one likes surprises.
Here are a few things to cover:
- Research the company
- Look up your role
- Find the address
- Pick an outfit
- Think of some potential questions your interviewer may ask
- Prepare some potential questions you could ask at the end of the interview
The week before the interview
Research the company
Interviewers expect candidates to have a good grasp of what their organisation does- so your ability to research effectively is essential.
Consider aspects like: how big the company is, how it’s divided up, who their customers are, and who is their main competitors are- as well as any recent developments or plans within the company.
With this knowledge, you will be able to add value to the conversation, whilst showing a genuine interest in what they do.
Read the job description
When it comes to interview preparation, the job description is your best friend.
Not only will a thorough examination of the duties and required personal qualities help you to understand more about what the role entail. It will also help you to recognise exactly what the employer is looking for.
Once you have all this information you can tailor your answers accordingly and coming up with tangible examples that prove you’re the best candidate for the role.
Figure out the format
Interviews can take several forms- one-on-one and group interviews, to position-specific tests, role plays and psychometric questionnaires. Each one of these forms will require a different type of preparation.
Often this will be explained when you are invited to the interview, but there’s no harm in asking for more information if needed. Researching online to find out how the process has worked for other people in your situation will also help you figure out what to expect.
Finding out who your interviewer(s) will be and researching their roles within the organisation will additionally help to reduce surprises on the big day. You can look these up on the company website or try finding them on LinkedIn.
Write things down
Unfortunately, you can’t predict every interview question that’ll come up.
So instead of relying solely on memorised answers, prepare an additional list of your most relevant skills, attributes, and work experience. Each question that you address will be an opportunity to provide some of this information to the interviewer.
This way you will be sure to get your most suitable qualities across even if the specific questions you were hoping for doesn’t come up.
The day before the interview
Although you should have the bulk of your preparation done by now that doesn’t mean there is nothing to organise the day before:
- Pick your outfit and try it on
- Find a map of the location
- Do a trail run to check your journey time
- Put important information into a folder (e.g. your CV, portfolio, certificates, or any other examples of your work and/or qualifications)
- Read and review the research you have done
Sorting out everything that has been discuss above in advance will mean less stress on the day of the interview.
You will be sure all your outfit fits, you will know exactly where you are going, and with all of your important documents to hand, the interviewer will be able to see you are prepared. Even if you don’t end up needing examples of your work, they could turn out to be a great way to demonstrate a point or answer a question.
“Please tell me a bit about yourself?”
A simple question which is often answered in too much or not enough depth. The trick to answering this vague question is to be straight to the point, don’t give away your entire personal or professional history and avoiding rambling on. Your reply to this question should be organized in points as if you were give a short, persuasive yet informative sales pitch on why you’re right for the job, it is also good to include relevant hobbies which reinforce this point such as team sports, or hobbies which involve leadership etc.
“How did you find out about the role?”
On the surface, this is an easy-to-answer question and can often only require a short answer. However good candidates would use this question to stand out from the rest. For instance, if you found out about the job through a friend or a professional, give their name; it could be used as a reference, even if you found out from an online post or a random job board, be specific, it reflects positively on yourself.
“What do you already know about the employer/company?”
Any good candidate will have already done at least some basic research on the company/employer. Despite this, almost every candidate will simply repeat the companies ‘About Us’ page, which is what you want to avoid. You should aim to show in depth knowledge of the company, important things to remember are;
- The company’s slogan (if they have one) or any morale’s or values which they stand for.
- Reference key words and phrases from the employer’s websites or ads
- Relate to the company, make your answer personal, explain why you can relate to key values which the company holds.
“Why do you want this job?”
Companies/Employers are looking for people who are passionate about the job. Bare this in mind when giving your answer. Firstly, avoid any responsibilities which you need the job for e.g. paying bills etc. The company does not care what they can do for you; they want to know what you can do for them. A good way to answer this question would be to state why you’re so suite for this job, identify multiple key skills that you have and how they are applicable to the job you’re applying for. Secondly, any subjective statements which you make in your answer e.g. ‘I am a big fan of the work your company does’, you should back up with a reason otherwise it can just come across as uneducated flattery. Finally, execute your answer with confidence, say it loud and clearly with a smile on your face as body language and appearance is as important as the answer in an interview.
“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Again this could be a considered as a trick question. For an employer/company, hiring a new employee is an investment, and most employers will want someone who will stay at their company for a long duration. When giving your answer you should bare this in mind – show to the interviewer that you have goals, and plans for the future, this will show that you are organized and prepare for the future as well as show ambition which always looks good. Talk about career progression, have a look at your career path and remember the job title you want to achieve by then (but be realistic, too much ambition can show lack of knowledge and realism).
“What would you consider your weaknesses?”
Employers use this question to gauge honesty and self-awareness within an individual. It is important to answer this question honestly; nobody is perfect, and everybody has their weakness. This question should be prepared for, choose a few minor weaknesses which are not red flags and explain how you are trying to improve currently, prepare your answer in advance.
A good example is “A main weakness of mine is my public speaking, I get very nervous when speaking in front of a group however I am trying to put myself in more of these situations, so my confidence grows and as a result of this my public speaking skills grow too.”
“What would you consider your professional strengths?”
There are a few important things to remember when answering this question. Firstly, be honest, choose skills which are applicable to you. It is always positive to reference when you have used these skills in the past e.g. “A key skill of mine is management, I used to manage a team of 5 individuals at my former work place, all 5 of which I had excellent professional relationships with.”
Secondly, adjust your answer to make it relevant, if you’re going for a management role, state strengths which are suited towards management e.g. Teamwork, Leadership etc.
Interview do’s and don’ts of body language
You have less than 7 seconds to impress a recruiter.
So make that first impression count, because it is nearly impossible to change someone’s opinion on you. Preparing for the common interview questions is the major part of a successful interview, your body language could be saying a lot more than your answers.
To make sure you don’t end your interview before it’s even started, here’s our do’s and don’ts of interview body language:
Body language dos:
- Walk in confidently- Make sure you walk into the building confidently as it is important to look professional from the moment you walk through the door because you will be judged on your behaviour.
- Deliver a firm handshake- Always deliver a firm handshake, remember to keep it firm but not too hard as you don’t want to crush their fingers and always remember to let go.
- Sit up straight- Always sit up straight and keep your legs as still as possible. It is ok to lean forward slightly once in a while, as it shows the interviewer that you’re listening, just don’t overdo it.
- Keep eye contact- Remeber keeping eye contact shows your interviewer that you are not intimidated and that you are taking everything in that they are saying. Make sure you look away once in a while so you don’t start to feel uncomfortable.
- Smile- Remember to smile because this will make you more likeable to the interviewer.
- Watch your hands- Remember to keep your arms uncrossed and away from your face, and if you are worried about keeping still, ask if you can take notes. This makes you look like you’re paying attention and keeps your hands busy.
Body language don’ts:
- Be overconfident- Never walk into a job interview overconfident because recruiters do not like arrogance and is a put off by you. There is a fine line between arrogance and confident make sure you don’t cross that line.
- Offer a weak handshake- Never give a weak handshake not only can be very awkward. Try and mirror your interviewer’s handshake and apply the same amount of pressure.
- Slouch- Having bad posture not only makes you look uninterested and this also goes for crossing your arms and legs this can be seen negatively.
- Stare- Never stare this can make you look frightening. It’s always important to maintain eye contact, but make sure you look away once in a while
- Fidget- Fidgeting will make you look nervous and awkward, try not to avoid moving around too much.
Sources: Nikoletta Bika