Candidate tips, CV writing and Interview Techniques
• The cover letter should be treated as your personal marketing literature; it introduces you, your CV and is your first chance to make a good impression. Avoid 'Sir' or 'Madam' and address to the relevant contact if possible.
• If you're replying to a job advert, say so, and include the job title, reference number and where/when you saw it.
• The content should be brief, structured and should avoid repetition of information covered in your CV. Outline your current situation, why you're seeking a change and why you're interested in working for the company. Highlight your transferable skills achievements and versatility.
Finally, make sure you have included any requested information, including expected or current salary and benefits.
Tips on Writing CVs
Your CV gives an initial snapshot of your working history, providing the opportunity to sell yourself and show what you can bring to the role. A strong CV will secure an interview, creating a good impression prior to the first meeting.
• Write down all the facts about yourself, your career and training experience.
• Decide how this will relate to the job you're applying for.
• Clearly state the dates you were employed for and write a short, bullet point description of the duties for each.
• Personal details: full name and contact details including address, telephone number and email.
• Educational history and professional qualifications: names of institutions and dates attended (most recent first) grades and passes attained, training, development and computer skills.
• Employment record: career history should be presented in reverse date order with a short overview of the main responsibilities and career progression. If you're embarking on your first position, emphasise your training, skills and relevant work experience.
• Hobbies and interests: Listed last and kept to a minimum.
• References: you can either list up two, or simply state 'available on request'.
• Use white paper and a plain font
• Do not include WordArt, ClipArt, graphics or photographs as this can make the document look cluttered
• Keep to two pages if possible
• Check your spelling and grammar, ask for a second opinion and do a final proof-read.
It is important to do some preparation before attending an interview. The more you prepare the less likely you will need to think on your feet on the day.
• Your consultant will be able to help you find out as much as you can about the company, the culture, the job and the person who will be interviewing you.
• In most cases the employer will already be in possession of your CV so think about what skills or experience you may have that match the job description and be prepared to highlight these on the day.
• Take a copy of your CV and any certificates or references with you. Not all employers will ask for them but you should be prepared.
• Plan your journey and start off early. Do a dummy run the day before if you're not sure of the route. Should you be delayed in any way, ring your consultant or the company to keep everyone informed. Please note: if you decide not to go it is essential you let your consultant know.
• Punctuality on the day is of key importance.
• Prepare some relevant questions (some suggestions are provided below).
On the day
• As a rule of thumb, appearances do count and the first few seconds are vital. Companies often have different standards of dress; please ask your consultant if you need advice.
• Be polite to the receptionist and any staff you may meet before your interview as they could influence the decision.
• When you meet your contact, ensure you walk in confidently, shake hands, look them in the eye, smile and introduce yourself.
• Watch your body language, sit upright and look keen and interested. Keep control of your hands as touching your hair, fiddling with a pen or button, for example, can be distracting.
• Don't waffle. Be natural, be yourself, be positive.
• Maintain eye contact, smile and look as if you're enjoying the conversation. If they enjoy talking to you they are more likely to want to meet you again.
• If they don't tell you they key areas of the job, be sure to ask so you can demonstrate how your experience matches.
• Offer precise and detailed answers to questions highlighting any relevant experience.
• If you do not understand a point, ask for clarification.
• Consider what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and make sure you highlight the benefits of employing you.
• If you're interested in the position, say so. Ask what the next stage is and if the interviewer thinks that you're suitable for the job.
• When the interview has finished, stand up, smile, shake hands and thank the interviewer for their time.
Ring your consultant to give them your feedback or to ask any questions you may have forgotten in the interview. Prepare your consultant should any negotiations be necessary e.g. if you like the job but the package is not to your expectations.
Questions often asked at interviews
• What do you know about the company?
• Why do you want to leave your current company?
• Why are you interested in this position?
• What skills could you bring to the job?
• What do you like doing best/least in your current role?
• What do you consider to be your strengths/weaknesses?
• What is your greatest achievement?
• Do you prefer to work in a team or alone?
• Can you work under pressure? Describe an incident where you have had to do so.
• How would you handle difficult clients/customers?
• How do you like to be managed?
• Where would you like to be in five years?
• What salary are you looking for?
• What are you leisure interests?
• Why should I employ you in this position?
Questions you may wish to ask at an interview
• What is the most important aspect of the job?
• Who will I be working for/with?
• How many people are in the department?
• Are there any periods when business peaks? What effect will this have on the job, if any?
• Are there any training schemes from which I may benefit?
• Are there promotional prospects?
• What is the salary and are there any benefits?
• How frequently is the salary reviewed?