CV and Interview Tips
Please find below some useful tips on how to achieve a stand out CV and what to say and do or not do in an interview.
There are two factors to consider when writing your CV:-
1. Will an employer get a good understanding of your experience level and all the skills you have to offer?
2. Will recruiters be able to find your CV and will the most pertinent information stand out?
Before you can apply for any job you need to ensure that recruiters are finding your CV amongst the other thousands on their database. You also need to ensure that when they do find your CV it is easy to read and it gives them a reason to call you. The following tips will ensure that you are gaining an advantage over the other candidates with similar skills to you.
Include a short, snappy paragraph with an overview of your career to date, your key skills, notable achievements and what your aims and objectives are for your next role. This should be called your “Personal Profile”.
Next, include a skills matrix which is well laid out and informs the reader of all of your technical skills, along with the length of commercial experience you have had with each technology. This will help recruiters quickly match your CV to the job specification. It will also ensure your CV is short-listed on the search engines which use keyword matching.
If you are early in your career and relatively inexperienced, list your education and achievements first, followed by your career achievements in reverse chronological order starting with the most recent first.
If you are mid-level to experienced you should start with your previous work history, ensuring that you list the actual technologies you used in each company and what you actually did with them. Go into enough detail so that an employer understands your role and responsibilities (but not too much detail that they struggle to pick out the information that is important to their role).
Put your education at the end of the CV and do include school qualifications gained.
Interests and hobbies are always a contentious issue and opinions are divided. Some people will list their interests and hobbies, others won’t. Think about how they reflect your personality or if they demonstrate your strengths. If you play in a sports team it could show that you are a team player, if you have captained a sports team it can show that you have leadership qualities. These are good to include on a CV. You need to think carefully about including any weird and wacky interests and consider how somebody that doesn’t know you will view them!
Personal details such as age, marital status, children, religion, nationality etc have no bearing on whether you can do the job so including this is optional and personal preference.
We've put this page together to help you prepare for your interview. Preparation is absolutely key to ensuring that you give your best at interview.
It may sound obvious that the point of the interview is to identify candidates with the most relevant skills and experience for this vacancy, however, many people forget this and talk very generally about their skills and experience. If you have skills that will not be used in the job applied for, then discussing these skills is not best use of the interview time, as this leaves less time to talk about what the interviewer wants to know.
The person interviewing you is looking for evidence of suitable skills and how you have applied them, and the interview is your opportunity to demonstrate relevant experience. This is usually called ‘competency based’ interviewing.
Generally, the interviewer will have a specific amount of time to ask the same questions to each candidate. It is important to use your interview time wisely by clearly answering their questions and providing them with the evidence they require to show them you are the best person for the job. If you talk too much on one subject, the interviewer may not have enough time to ask all of their questions, and therefore you will not have provided all the evidence required. In most cases they will have to assume that if the evidence is not provided then you do not have that skill.
Remember, time management and presenting information verbally are often competencies required for the vacancy. If you cannot do this at interview, they the interviewer will think you cannot do this once employed.
The reason for interviewing:
Effective preparation will enable you to talk clearly, calmly and logically through experience and give appropriate evidence. This is very important as sometimes you may only have a one hour interview.
People always ask, what questions will they ask me? The answer to that is on the job spec. Questions will be asked about your skills in relation to those listed/required on the job spec.
Prepare examples of where you have previously used those skills and the context/projects/tasks in which they have been applied.
When discussing the example talk about what YOU did. Therefore you should state 'I was responsible for... or I did...'. If you talk about 'we' in terms of the team’s responsibility, the interviewer is left confused. They will not know what you took responsibility for in the task/project.
Other Important Preparation for Interview
Prepare as you would for any high level presentation. Find out as much as you can about the company through annual reports, newspapers, etc. This effort demonstrates your resourcefulness, sincere interest and curiosity.
Know Your 3 Best Interpersonal Strengths and Your 3 Best Technical Strengths
Prepare to discuss each strength for 1-2 minutes, in detail, with examples. The interpersonal examples should confirm your ability to work with others, be flexible, proactive and results oriented. The technical examples should confirm that you have above average abilities, relative to your peers, in these specific areas. These should relate to the vacancy you are interviewing for to help demonstrate you are the best person for the job.
Research the company:
Be well dressed and groomed:
Being well dressed and groomed is your best and easiest opportunity to impress someone. Never dress down regardless of how casual you perceive the circumstances to be. Stick with conservative styles.
It is most appropriate to arrive about 10 mins early. This gives reception time to contact the interviewer so the interviewer can collect you from reception and the interview start on time.
Be early to your interview:
Be involved and curious
The most effective interviews are those where an active two-way conversation prevails. Try to avoid yes/no answers and give examples where ever possible.
Be enthusiastic and friendly to everyone you meet (people talk)
First impressions, positive or negative, can dramatically affect the ultimate evaluation.
Tell them you want It (if this is the right job for you, don’t be shy in saying so!)
Make it clear that based on what you have heard so far, you would be interested in going to the next round.
If you think you made a wrong step, don't panic. Wait until the end of the interview and then ask your interviewer, "Is there anything I have not made clear?”
Probing questions to ask
At the end of the interview show interest by asking two or three questions relating to your interest and the role. (Leave out questions regarding the salary or benefits as the recruitment consultant will have this information). Questions you should consider asking are:
• What are the challenges of this role?
• What should be the most important objectives for the person filling this position?
• Is there a formal performance evaluation process?
• What departments or individuals will I be working with outside of my immediate group?
• What are my long-term opportunities?
Don't be timid about asking these questions. Asking questions demonstrates that you are prepared, genuinely interested, and respectful of the interviewer and the interview process.
If it’s a final interview then ask questions to help you understand if it is the job for you. When you leave the interview room you should have asked all questions important to you so if offered you will know that you want the job.
Finally, be yourself!
Let your personality shine through and try not to be too nervous, although everyone feels a little apprehensive before an important interview. As long as you have prepared fully, are armed with a few questions and have thought through answers to the common interview questions then you'll be an exceptional candidate!