cv and job interview

cv and job interview techniques

This page is intended to give you some hints, guidance and advice on writing your CV and preparing for job interviews. This is not intended to be prescriptive, these are only suggestions. We are always happy to talk you through CV and job interview techniques in person - but these guidelines should help you start.

preparing your CV

Please give your CV some thought and spend some time on getting it right – it may make all the difference in getting the job you really want.
Most importantly, always thoroughly proof-read your CV or ask someone to do it for you before sending it to either an agency or a potential employer.

Make sure your CV is well laid out so that it is immediately easy to read and understand. Leave plenty of white space.

  • Use concise, unambiguous sentences, avoid exaggerations and a flowery writing style.
  • Do not make false claims; honesty is always the best policy.
  • Bullet points are useful to highlight relevant skills and experience and help break up continuous text.
  • Depending on your experience, two pages is an ideal length.
  • Stress your past accomplishments and the skills you used to get the results you achieved.
  • Focus on information which is relevant to your own career goals.
  • If you are making a career change, stress what skills are transferable to support your new career objectives.
  • Put your highest level of education first.
  • Put your most recent job first and work backward chronologically in time.
  • Ensure all dates are accurate.
  • Explain any long career gaps (i.e. travelling, maternity leave etc.) these will only need to be explained to our clients.
  • Don’t change tenses back and forth.
  • Describe what you did 90% of the time, not 10% of the time.
  • Avoid references to hobbies, activities and memberships which are not business related or have no relevance to your current career goals or job objectives.
  • If you are preparing a CV for a specific vacancy, explain why you would be good at the position for which you are applying. This is a brief summary of your significant technical and managerial skills (where appropriate). Include accomplishments and soft skills such as team player, dependable and successfully meeting deadlines. E.g. – Achieved a fundraising target of £100,000 within one year.
job interview techniques

general hints and guidelines

think about yourself

It is important before a job interview to think about all the reasons why you are attending it and what you have to offer the organisation. Be ready to discuss both short and long term career goals in general terms.

gaps in CV

You will also need to explain gaps in employment. If you worked in a temporary capacity but didn’t put it on your CV, know the details of which companies you worked with, what you did for them and the length of the assignments. If you did not work but did search for a job give some examples of the research you did regarding job opportunities and the process you went through to find the position.

reasons for leaving

Prepare to discuss the reasons you left your previous jobs. If it was for a better opportunity, explain how it was an opportunity. If you left involuntarily, present the reason in the most positive light you can. Make sure your responses are honest and be positive.

research the job

Before attending any job interview it is a good idea to research the organisation and familiarise yourself with the following:

  • Size of organisation, number of employees.
  • History, how long have they been operating – do they have any affiliated organisations or belong to an umbrella group?
  • General information about their services/products/aims etc.
  • Major competitors or other organisations operating in the same field.
  • Job description – understand the skills required for the position.
  • Relationship between the open position and other members of staff - have a sense for the department.
  • Have some well thought-out questions that would help further your understanding of the organisation e.g. How will the organisation be affected by the new legislation on xyz… or How do you see the organisation developing over the next year/three years?
  • Feedback to your consultant how you thought the interview went and tell us whether you would be interested in the job if it were to be offered to you.
  • what is the employer looking for?
  • Employers use interviews to confirm that an applicant has the required knowledge, skills and willingness to contribute and fit into the organisation’s culture. They also want to see if your career goals are in line with opportunities available with their organisation. They are looking for the potential in prospective employees to become valued, trusted, productive team members of their organisation.

You must try to consider how you can display your skills and experience in a good and honest light and provide employers with the evidence that you are the right person for the job. Here are some brief points to consider:

  • Are you a self-starter, able to work without constant supervision?
  • Can you be depended upon in critical situations and follow work through to completion?
  • Are you enthusiastic and easy to work with?
  • Can you work under pressure?
  • Recruiters need to know what drives you to want the job and why you want to work for the organisation in particular.
  • Can you manage your time effectively?
  • How do you structure your day’s work?
  • How do you plan your day and week?
  • How did you handle sudden unplanned work or crisis?
  • Can you handle constructive criticism in a productive manner?
  • Are you objective in evaluating yourself and others?
  • Recruiters look for an objective analysis of your abilities. For strengths, recruiters want to know why you think it is strength and where it has been demonstrated. For weaknesses they want to know what steps you could take to improve.

You will rarely be working alone so being able to work as part of a team is valuable. Co-operation and ability to work well in a team environment are some the most valued skills in employees.

  • Can you work well with a variety of people?
  • What would you do to help a team of people work together better?
  • points to consider throughout the interview
  • Be prepared with answers to the traditional job interview questions. Rehearse your answers with a friend who will give you honest feedback about the content of your answer and body language.
  • Aim for clarity, brevity and above all, honesty. Give honest answers with a positive tone.
  • Concentrate on the employer’s needs, not yours.
  • Emphasise how you can help the organisation achieve its goals.
  • Describe your past responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Explain why you approached projects in a certain ways.
  • Explain how the skills you bring will benefit the organisation.
  • Don’t downplay your accomplishments or attribute them to luck.
  • Be specific in your answers. Avoid rambling or getting off on a tangent.
  • Ask for clarification if you are unsure of the question.
Ask the employer if they think it would be helpful to add information about skills or experiences that you believe are relevant but which have not been covered during the interview. Take responsibility for communicating your strengths. Don’t rely on the interviewer to pull it out of you.
Consider the types of skills and characteristics you think the employer needs in the applicant to be successful in the job for which you are attending an interview, e.g. attention to detail, diplomacy, leadership, persistence, problem solving and planning, stress management, team building, technical.

Once you have determined what you think the employer will be looking for, write out examples of situations that showed your skills in those areas. Explain your past successes, the more you can clearly describe the experience, the people involved, the challenge and the solutions, the more you’ll stand out in the interviewer’s mind.

types of job interview

There are several different types or styles of job interview that you may come across amongst our clients. It is important that to remember that no two job interviews are the same and that you can always improve your interview style and preparation. There follows some general hints and tips on the most common / frequently used interview techniques that you are likely to encounter through our agency.

the traditional job interview - sample questions

Sometimes job interviews follow a more traditional format (quite common with people who are not used to job interviewing). The following is a list of typical job interview questions which may arise in one form or another. It is a good idea to reflect on the sort of answer you might give before a job interview but it is unwise to learn answers off pat as you risk coming across as unnatural and not genuine. It is a good idea to back your answers up with examples taken from your own work experience.

  • Do you prefer to work in a small, medium or large organisation?
  • Why do you want this job?
  • What qualities do you think this job requires?
  • Why do you want to work for this organisation?
  • What have you got to contribute?
  • What can we offer you that your previous organisation cannot offer?
  • How long have you been looking for a new job?
  • What do you know about this organisation?
  • What interests you about this organisation?
  • What are you looking for in a new job?
  • What would be your ideal job?
  • What sorts of jobs are you considering at the moment?
  • What did you do on a day to day basis?
  • What do you not like about the job?
  • How did you make a difference to your last organisation?
  • How successful are you?
  • What was your greatest success and how did you achieve it?
  • What has been your biggest failure?
  • How could you improve yourself?
  • How did you progress in your last job?
  • How do you handle criticism?
  • How do you work with others?
  • Do you need other people around to stimulate you?
  • Are you accepted into a team quickly?
  • Give me an example of when you took initiative to solve a problem?
  • What motivates you?
  • Are you competitive?
  • What problems did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
  • Do you feel you are ready to take on greater responsibilities?
  • What are you like under pressure?
  • How many hours are you prepared to work?
  • What are your career goals?
  • How did you get on with your last manager/colleagues?
the team job interview - how to cope with them
In an effort to get a well-rounded perspective on job candidates, many companies ask numerous people to participate in the selection process. Depending on the level of job you are seeking, you may interview with an HR specialist, the hiring manager, the hiring manager’s boss and even staff members who would be your peers. In small companies you may have to sell yourself to the entire staff.

This team approach means that many different people interview you and then get together to debate whether they like you well enough to hire you. Sometimes, each person on the interview asks a different lot of questions. Other times, they all ask the same thing. This can happen by design, if the organisation wants to see whether you change your answers along the way.

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