I used to work in management and participate in the recruitment and selection process at the firm. From doing this, I’ve gained enough experience to know what employers want and I’m often called upon to help my friends get the jobs they really want.
One of the most important things to realise is some employers’ requirements will be universal and some will be tailored to a specific role or manager’s preference. The easiest place to start is with the universal traits employers are looking for.
The first point of contact is your CV and cover letter, this is your chance to make an exceptional impression. Consider hiring a professional CV writing company; first impressions are everything and you want yours to be impressive. It’s a worthwhile expense to help you propel your career. Consider it an investment – like taking a course to improve skills would be.
If you choose to write your own CV, enlist every single one of your willing friends to proofread and critique it. Make mundane tasks sound important, jazz up your skill set and apply it to scenarios that are specific to the job role in question. Give it your all.
There are so many people out there who miss out on their dream job – a job they are perfectly capable of – because they didn’t prepare for the interview.
Preparing for a job interview will make you exactly half as nervous as not preparing. If you come prepared, you can control how the interviewers perceive you (and that is almost a super power in the working world).
Research your company fully. In this day and age, they should have a website, a Facebook page, a Twitter and maybe even an Instagram (depending on the industry). You need to investigate every avenue; see what their customers are saying about them.
Find out who started the company, how it started, how many stores there are, where those stores are. Write down what you find and remember some key points; they are likely to ask what you know about the company. Tell them something positive, don’t lead with, “according to Facebook, my mate’s Grandma thinks you’re rubbish”.
Once you’re happy with the company info you’ve collated, move on to practising answering the tough questions. A Google search will bring up a few but I swear by this book, it was published in 2008 but it’s still really relevant. Get anyone who is willing to give you a mock interview. Prepare answers to tough questions, have a good reason for leaving your last job, have a (clean) joke up your sleeve (yes, really).
Wear a suit. Whether you are a man or a woman, wear a suit. Wear a suit to every interview, if you don’t have one, buy one. Make sure your hair is neat and your nails are done. Your clothes should fit well and your shoes should be free from scuffs – polish them if you have to.
Have a light breakfast if the interview is in the morning or a light lunch if it’s in the afternoon. Don’t eat anything that smells weird.
Apply hand cream before you leave for the interview. You will probably have to shake someone’s hand and you want your hands to be relatively soft but not greasy from the cream. Greasy can feel clammy and you don’t want to repulse your future boss!
Try to relax, sit up straight and smile where you can. You can fake confidence with good posture and a natural smile. Confidence is what will make you stand out in comparison to the unprepared nervous wrecks who they see after you. Attending an interview should feel like sitting an exam that you know the answers for.
After the interview
In some cases you’ll get a second interview, again this needs preparation, in other cases they will let you know whether or not you are successful. Hopefully you’ll have got the job so this next bit won’t be relevant.
If on this occasion, someone more suited to the role is given the job over you, remember to keep smiling (even on the phone). Be polite, thank them for taking the time to interview you, ask for your CV to be kept on file and considered for future recruitment. If you get chance to ask in a non-confrontational way, try and get an idea of why they didn’t choose you this time.
Perhaps you need to gain some work experience in a certain area, perhaps your qualifications fall short and you are able to undertake a course to give you a better chance in the future. Whatever the reason, you can learn from it and make the relevant changes ready for the next opportunity.
Every interview should be a positive learning experience, whether or not you are selected in that round of recruitment.
Happy dream-job-hunting, and good luck!