For many, attending a job interview can be a highly pressurised and nerve-racking situation. If you were to Google search for job interview strategies, you will generally find a whole lot of advice. Advice including how to dress appropriately, researching the company you are being interviewed by, and anticipating interview questions. Whilst these strategies will help you to be well prepared for the interview they might not help you stand out from other interviewees.Continue reading →
Some of you reading this will know this scenario well, particularly if you’re part of the hiring process. A candidate for a position on your team comes in for an interview because he or she presented a great resume, the kind of resume that makes you keen to meet this possible new recruit. But on meeting them in person, you realise that their perfect resume was only that – a perfect resume, but their interview and their demeanour were less that desirable.
So you return to your pile of resumes this time, and as Leaders in Heels Women’s Editor Sally Miles once did in the same situation: “I delved a little deeper, beyond the cover letter typos and the poorly typeset resumes”, only to find the perfect candidate hidden, frustratingly, behind a poorly written CV that not only fails to sell their most hireable assets, but instead emphasises a position they may have taken in high school. Nobody takes your CV seriously if you’re applying for a management role with your McDonalds job front and centre on it!
So what can we do to make our resumes stand out from the crowd? Rebecca Walkey, Senior Consultant of Project and Change Management at global professional services recruitment consultancy Morgan McKinley, shares her top 10 Do’s and Don’ts to writing a winning resume.
- Ensure your CORRECT contact details are on your CV
It’s surprising how many people forget to put telephone numbers or up-to-date email address(es) on their CV.
Ensure your most recent role is at the top of your resume, and keep it relevant. If you had a holiday job in retail 10 years ago this does not need to go on your resume.
- Write a brief skills profile/synopsis and put it at the top
Outline your unique proposition to this employer.
- Bullet point!
Both in responsibilities and your achievements – the easier you make it for someone to read your CV, the better.
Ensure you dedicate space to what you have achieved, and, where possible, make these quantifiable (eg. We saved x amount of $ or it reduced the time of x by x)
- Qualifications/Professional Development
Again, keep them relevant to the role! A RSA certificate when you were 18 is not relevant to a Marketing/Finance Manager 15 years later.
- Tailor your CV to the role you’re applying for
If the role involves managing a large number of staff, highlight previous achievements from your past where you also managed people, and focus the CV on that.
- Be truthful
NEVER lie on your CV. Not only is it unprofessional but it will cause all sorts of problems if you profess to skills you don’t have.
- Check the spelling, formatting and grammar
This is a housekeeping tip but ensure that your CV has no typos or grammatical errors. Make sure the font and format remain the same right the way through.
- Take advice of a third party
Use people you know and trust to review your resume and provide honest feedback. A CV should be written so that someone outside your field of expertise understands what your role is and would be impressed by your achievements. Recruiters can also be very helpful with this.
Your CV is the door opener but it is only part of process of you finding a new role. As long as the CV is clear, concise and relevant to the role you’re after, that should be enough. A good CV is important, but keep it in perspective.
- Believe people who tell you your CV can only be 2 pages
While this is common in Europe and the USA, as long as your resume is not a 10 page novel then it is fine for it to be longer. Realistically, if you have a 10 + year career with professional qualifications and development to be outlined squeezing it in to 2 pages can be hard.
- Talk generically
A bullet point saying “utilised my management skills to improve team culture” really tells us nothing about you or what you did. Talk in terms of staff retention, reduction in team turnover, improvement on NPS etc instead.
- Feel you have to put on personal details
You can if you want, but date of birth, marital status etc. is no longer mandatory information. If you list your hobbies and interests on the CV you need to be prepared to talk about them so it is important they are genuine interests.
- Get carried away with boxes and tables
Your CV is a sales document – we want to know what you have done in your career and what you have achieved, not how good you are embedding tables and graphs in MS Word documents!
- Use collective terms
This is true of interviewing as well! Your CV is about you, and you need to talk about what YOU did rather than the team. Be mindful of using words like “assisted” and “supported”- they are ambiguous terms and could up or down skill you depending on who is reading the resume.
- Assume people will understand the acronyms you use
Remember that often, your resume will be assessed by someone who is not necessarily a subject matter expert in your area. For example, if you use the term “CBA” when referring to cost benefit analysis, someone else may think you’re referring to the bank!
You should be proud of your achievements and it is important to outline them on your CV. Putting awards and promotions won is expected – you are not being boastful!
- Attach an inappropriate/unprofessional photo
You only have to look at LinkedIn to see that people will do this. If you attach a picture then it should be a professional head shot!
- Pay someone to write your CV for you! This is something that, with a bit of research and feedback, you should be able to do yourself.
Thanks to Rebecca Walkey, Senior Consultant at Morgan McKinley for your insight and advice.
Featured photo credit: TempusVolat
Erica is a Sydney-based writer and digital marketer, and can often be found pounding away on a keyboard, writing about everything from travel, lifestyle, well-being and anything in between. When she is not writing, she is STILL writing, developing copy and content for websites and marketing collateral. Erica is passionate about film, literature and culture (high brow and low brow), as well as pro-social causes supporting cultural engagement (counting travelling as one of them). In her spare time, she loves nothing more than to curl up with a good book, go for a nice dinner with friends or spend time with her partner.
Good presentation skills require organisation and confidence. If these two essential items are not ticked off, then it’s time you looked at developing presentation skills. This type of personal development work will really assist you to develop first more confidence, which is the key. Then, by you getting organised, well presented and ultimately building self-esteem, those dream jobs will appear and your ambitions will be realised!
Being well presented in the workplace – in a presentation, in a meeting, during a discussion with a colleague or client is essential. If your career matters to you – develop your presentation skills!
A presenter or staff member is given an added advantage over someone who is less than polished in public speaking (i.e. someone who actually avoids it like the plague), when he or she can get up and deliver a well-constructed, confident presentation in front of a group of colleagues.
Superiors notice the confident approach, which translates into other parts of their role. Staff who are highly skilled in their area of expertise, but hate public speaking, will still be appreciated, but they may just get more kudos and more accolades if they can articulate their approaches and knowledge in a more confident manner.
“Being well presented in the workplace – in a presentation, in a meeting, during a discussion with a colleague or client is essential. If your career matters to you – develop your presentation skills!”
Presentation and public speaking skills are “learnt” skills – by working on these skills, the quiet and shy person can learn to present with confidence and evidentially “Find their voice”.
Where do Presentation Skills have an impact in the Workplace?
Presentation skills will help in the following workplace or professional circumstances:
- At interviews, as the interviewer or interviewee
- At meetings, face to face or in a conference call
- At networking functions, meeting new people or getting to know ones you already know.
- Speaking to colleagues and staff
- Delivering a presentation to clients detailing a technical topic or selling a product
- Presenting at conferences
- Speaking at large internal meetings
- Speaking at Chamber of Commerce or Rotary promoting your business
- Speaking with suppliers
- Speaking with clients
- Presenting training
- Attending training
And so on …
Presentations are Part of the Job
Yes, it’s true. Professionals are expected to give presentations as part of their job. But surely with their education, whether at university or other colleges, delivering a presentation is straightforward? Well, no!
A Gallup poll found that 40% of the population have a fear of speaking in public. It doesn’t matter how big or small the group, there are some people who struggle to give presentations. Does this have an impact on their work? Potentially, yes.
So what are the areas that are important in the workplace, with respect to presentation skills?
“Presentation skills and public speaking are a “learnt” skill – by working on these skills, the quiet and shy person can learn to present with confidence and evidentially “Find their voice””
1. Know Your Audience
Understand what the audience wants to get out of the presentation. You need to be mindful of the people in the meeting or in the conference room. This is so your presentation will meet and exceed the audience’s expectations, and so your audience gets what they came for.
2. Plan your Presentation
Planning the structure of your presentation – and knowing what structure works for your audience – is very important. For your audience to absorb your information, it needs to be delivered in an easy-to-follow format.
3. Make it Interesting
Attention spans are not long, no matter how advanced the audience is. Make sure you’ve included some really interesting points, and vary the type of interest points, as this will help to keep the attention of the meeting.
“A Gallup Poll found that 40% of the population have a fear of speaking in public … Does this have an impact on their work? Potentially, yes”
4. Dress the Part
Your appearance in the workplace matters. Not only are you meant to be a thought leader in your chosen presentation topic, you are also in competition with others wanting to advance. If you are not well presented, with respect to clothes, hair, shoes, paperwork, etc., people will notice and it will have an impact.
5. Show you Care
Your enthusiasm for the topic is essential. If you seem disinterested in the topic you are talking about, your audience will pick up on this.
6. Be Organised
Your audience will appreciate you being organised for a meeting or a presentation. If there are little changes or hiccups, your audience will understand. If you are unorganised and you appear to have not put in an effort, the attendees will not sympathise, and they will get annoyed.
“Make sure you’ve included some really interesting points … this will help to keep the attention of the meeting”
7. Discuss the “Elephant in the Room”
If there is an issue, if something isn’t working, you are experiencing a problem, then make a mention of whatever it is and then move on. If we hold back from discussing something important (which may not have an impact on the meeting topic), then get this discussion done, and then move on. If you don’t, the attendees will be thinking about that rather than the actual topic at hand.
8. Get a Grip on your Nerves
Handling nervousness and building confidence is important – you will struggle to get your message across if you struggle here. Being mindful of how you present at work will really help with your interactions with colleagues and clients. This will ultimately impact on whether you get that important raise, or that desired new job.
Adrienne McLean is the Founder of The Speakers Practice, which offers Presentation Skills training program for business people, individuals, teenagers and groups. Adrienne is an Internationally Accredited SpeakersTrainingCamp Instructor and is a Distinguished Toastmaster. Adrienne has studied marketing with Michael Port the author of the Top Business and Marketing book – BookYourselfSolid.
Adrienne, with her experience of growing up in a family business, working in the corporate and small business sector plus building her own business, gives an enthusiastic and practical approach to the benefits of presentation skills development, learning to promote yourself and building a successful business. She is a regular presenter, blogger and a contributing author in four recent business publications.
As I’m all for empowering the female race in our business (and life) ventures, I want to share with you my 4 tips to rock any job interview, in the hopes that no matter which category you fall into below or what job you’re interviewing for, you’ll not only knock the socks off your prospective employer, you’ll feel fabulous in the process like real ‘leaders in heels’ do.
Having worked in the corporate world for many years before making the giant leap into the entrepreneurial world as a Health and Life coach, I’m no stranger to job interviews and the methodical, and sometimes callous, approach employers take to find a suitable candidate.
When it comes to impending job interviews I have noticed people typically fall into one of three categories:
- Those who work themselves into a frantic frenzy resembling something of a time bomb about to explode
- Those who become eager beavers who can’t wait to sing their praises and utilise their “communication skills”
- Those who manage to keep their cool and look at the interviewing process the same as any other life experience; an opportunity for personal development growth (and not the end of the world if things don’t work out)
Without intending to ‘toot my horn,’ fortunately (and gratefully) I fall into the third category and have almost always been offered the job I have interviewed for.
This isn’t because I’m better, more knowledgeable or more skilled than others; I put it down to a culmination of tactics I have learned along the way and have perfected with time.
Here below are my 4 tips to rock any job interview:
1. Preparation is key
I’m not talking about the infamous interview preparation most recruiters or job websites suggest whereby you create a S.W.O.T analysis of yourself or lay out your outfit the night before (although these can help). I’m talking about internal preparation; mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Mental – Spend some time before your interview visualising yourself rocking that interview, being a calm, confident and successful woman who is going to get the job, and most importantly someone who isn’t pinning all their hopes and dreams on this one job.
Just as a date can smell someone’s desperation to settle down and start a family, so too can prospective employers smell the desperation of doe-eyed candidates.
You want to appear enthusiastic and grateful for their consideration, but under no circumstances do you want to come across as a lovesick puppy.
Physical – If there is one sure-fire way that makes me feel naturally high on life and ooze confidence, getting my endorphins pumping is it. If you have time to move your body before your interview whether that’s going for a run, doing weights or a boxing session, schedule it in.
Your prospective employer (and body) will notice.
Emotional/Spiritual – Meditate; it will centre you and calm your nerves. Allow 10 minutes before your interview to spend some time in peace and quiet to focus on your breath and nothing else. As you inhale imagine yourself breathing in a radiant gold ball of light and as you exhale, image that ball of light spreading over every inch of your body bathing you in pure love.
2. Confidence is king
There’s a well-known saying in the blogging world, which is “content is king”, but in this instance I’d like to amend that to “confidence is king.”
Confidence: have it, own it, embody it.
Even if you don’t feel it 100%, ‘fake it till you make it.’ Confidence goes a long way when it comes to rocking an interview and knocking the socks of your future boss.
Remember that whilst an employer is assessing you … you too get to assess them and work out if their company/employees/brand values/culture etc is the right fit for you
3. Remember it’s a two-way street
Being given the opportunity to interview for a fabulous job is something to be grateful for yes, however, remember an interview is a two-way street.
Not only is the company in question giving you the opportunity to work for and earn a paycheck from them, you are giving them the opportunity to have your unique experience, skill set and personality as part of their team; making a difference in their lives also.
Remember that whilst an employer is assessing you and seeing if you are the right fit for them, you too get to assess them and work out if their company/employees/brand values/culture etc is the right fit for you.
This isn’t about being arrogant nor high and mighty, but the interviewing process is just as much about them as it is about you.
If you can learn to look at an interview like this you are going to feel a lot more relaxed throughout the whole process and it will come out in your communication.
Make them want you, not the other way around.
4. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
I am a huge fan of eggs and often buy two cartons at once, but I don’t put them in the same basket as each other to ensure if I accidentally drop one, the other carton is still viable. The same principle applies with jobs interviews.
Do your best to line up a few interviews so you aren’t solely concerned with getting this one; even if this is the only job you really want.
If you go to an interview knowing you have a ‘Plan B’ and a ‘Plan C,’ you won’t be so nervous in your interview or come across as though this is your only option, and bonus, it’s not!
There’s no denying that spending time researching your prospective employer’s brand values or philosophy, ironing your clothes the night before and coming up with a few stellar questions won’t help, but harness these tips and your prospective employer will become your boss faster than you can say, “how many hours per week?”
Do you have any tips and tricks to share with us? What is your experience when it comes to interviews? Share with us in the comment below.
Nicole Perhne is a Holistic Health & Life Coach, Reiki practitioner and writer. She coaches stressed, overwhelmed women who suffer from self-limiting beliefs, anxiety, depression, and those struggling with weight and body image issues.
Her mission is to empower women to fall in love with themselves by providing them with practical and effective tools to quantum leap into their heart’s true north, pursue their purpose and passion, and ultimately guide them back to self-love.
Her highly anticipated eBook ‘Peace. Love. Authenticity: 14 Ways to Come Home (to you)’ is due for release soon. Jump onboard here
Since 2011, the use of video as a medium for job interviews has risen by 49%. Recent studies show that 6 of every 10 HR Managers use video to interview potential candidates*. Recently Leaders in Heels gave us 6 tips for a great Skype interview. Here, I want add a few more tips (based on plenty of experience) that will help you get a second interview, if not the job!
Physical preparation (10 min):
Wake up your body! Before the video interview stretch your arms, your legs, your neck and back. Take some deep breaths. Wake up your body for a minimum of 5 minutes.
Do some mouth and voice exercises to awaken your voice and improve pronunciation for another 5 minutes:
1. Stretch your mouth by pretending to make a big smile, then close your mouth as if you wanted to kiss somebody that is really far. Repeat 10 times. If you took choir or theater classes, I am sure you remember other exercises. Bring them back!
2. Put a pencil in your mouth and read a paragraph of the newspaper until you can clearly understand all your words.
Now that your body feels awake, you will be more focused and responsive during the interview.
93% of communication is non verbal**
1. Nod: show that you understand and that you can hear them correctly by nodding.
2. Eye contact: you will show interest and confidence by looking at the camera. I find it impossible to look at the camera if I can be looking at myself, so what I do is minimize all the programs and open a white sheet. Now there is nothing to look at and this is the only way I have to look at the camera.
3. Smile: not a fake smile, a genuine, relaxed smile, it will make your interviewer feel better. If there is something you don’t understand, don’t be afraid to show it by furrowing your brows.
4. Don’t lean your head back, lean a little bit forward to show interest.
5. If you normally use your hands to express yourself, make sure the camera catches all your movements.
6. Prepare questions
When in the online world, I have learned that you need to do everything the same as in the real world but more. To show your interest, make an extensive list of questions you would like the interviewer to answer. At the end of the interview, revise them and make sure they were all answered, and even if they were, go through them in front of your interviewer and mention that they were all answered. Asking questions only says good things about you.
Post interview email
If you felt that the interview went well, don’t be shy, even if they told you that they would call you. 1 or 2 days after the interview, send a quick email expressing your gratitude for the meeting and reminding them that you are at their disposal for another interview and that you are excited about the job. This email could make the difference between them choosing you or another person. Believe me, I have hired 300+ people in the last 5 years!
I hope these tips will help you get the job you want. If you have more tips, don’t keep them to yourself! Share them here!
*Stats by PGI
**Studies by Albert Mehrabian Professor Emeritus Ph. D., Clark University Social Psychology
Anna worked in the web sector before founding Ricaris have a nice day (www.ricaris.com) in 2009, a successful services company providing distributed solutions for companies in the web sector. Managing Virtual Teams (www.managing-virtual-teams.com) is a new consulting product bringing together all of the experience across the distributed teams of Ricaris, and putting it into bite-sized courses, virtual team activities, and consulting packages. Follow Anna @virtualteams.
One of the things you will have to do when you are a manager is to interview people. No doubt you have already been on the other side of the table many times, but unless you have spent time in HR, you may not have been given guidance into what can make a great interview.
Be clear about what you are looking for.
What skills / attributes / motives / values does your candidate need to do the job well?
Often a panel interviews for skills only. Skills and qualifications are obviously important, but you should also be looking at other attributes. Does your candidate have the right motives for the role? A sales person should have a strong achievement motive, while if you are interviewing for a child care position you are looking for someone with empathy and affiliation. Are you looking for a “great people person”? Define what qualities a “great people person” has. What about team fit? Will the person be required to work in a team with lots of big egos? That requires different attributes to working in a team of caring and sharing people.
What do you need to ask to find out if your candidate has the above attributes?
Behavioural questions ask a candidate to describe a time they have actually done what you are looking for, what they did, what the outcome was and what they learned. Behavioural interviewing is based on the theory that past performance is a strong predictor of future performance. It tests the candidate’s experience. An example might be, “Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult customer.” Behavioural interviewing is based on the theory that past performance is a strong predictor of future performance
Job requirements questions test the candidate’s ability to use the cognitive skills required, like conceptual thinking. An example might be, “Imagine the CEO has asked you to provide an outline of competitor activity in our market. What do you need to consider?”
Ideally you need to ask both. Behavioural questions tell you what a candidate has done in the past by drawing on their actual experience, and job requirements questions show if the candidate is able to apply their skills to future issues.Behavioural questions tell you what a candidate has done in the past by drawing on their actual experience, and job requirements questions show if the candidate is able to apply their skills to future issues
It is useful to start the interview by asking the candidate some questions about themselves. Ask how they got into the field they are working in, or comment on one of their interests (if they have listed interests on their CV). This serves two purposes. It can relax a nervous candidate, but it also gives you a base line for their body language. Then, during the interview if you spot inconsistent body language it may be an indicator to probe further. Say your candidate leans forward in their chair and makes eye contact when speaking about their weekend rock-climbing, but when you ask why they want to work for your company they lean back, push their chair away from the table, fold their arms and avoid eye contact – you have an indicator that they may not be all that enthusiastic.
Watch out for candidates using “we” language. If when describing a situation a candidate says “we did this and we did that”, it is worth asking “Was that a team effort? What part did you play?” It is often easy to miss and it can be crucial if you are looking for high calibre skills, to determine if the candidate actually led the process or was a minor team player.
Wandering off topic or going around in circles may be a sign the candidate is struggling with the question. Or it could simply indicate extreme nerves. As the interviewer you should guide the candidate back to topic. Ask them something like “tell me exactly what you did”? or “so what did you learn from this?”
Take notes during the interviews as it is impossible to remember what people said after a day (or more) of interviews.
Consider also using non-standard interview formats. Some of the things you might use are:
- Role play – for example, you might ask your candidate to role play a performance review, with one of the panel (or a third party) playing the role of the direct report.
- Presentations of a candidate’s work – make sure you ask questions to test the candidate’s knowledge of the material.
- Case studies or written exercises – these can be very effective. Allow 20-30 minutes for an exercise or for the candidate to read the case study. Do this in another room – the panel can be interviewing someone else at the time and it would be very off putting to have three people watching you read!
- Skills/aptitude tests – are common for entry level positions (typing, computer skills, numeracy and literacy).
- Psychometric tests – these should be administered by an accredited practitioner. Not all psychometric tests are suitable for recruitment as many measure preferences not skills. They should be used as supplementary data, not in isolation.
- Team interviews – I have seen processes where the team go out for a coffee with the top candidate before the offer of employment is made, to see if the person is the right fit for the team. If the team gives the thumbs up, the offer is made. Obviously it is absolutely inappropriate to do this if one or more of the team have also applied for the role!
At the end of the interview it is always useful to ask 2 things in closing:
“Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself that is relevant to the position and that we haven’t covered in the questions?”
“Have you got any questions for us?” – a well prepared and keen candidate will often ask you more about the role, or the business. You can learn a lot about someone from the kinds of questions they ask you.
Beware of bias!
You need to be aware of your own biases and ensure you don’t allow them to influence your decisions. Some common biases are:
- Stereotyping: Having an opinion of the abilities and characteristics of people based on gender, race, appearance, religion, postcode etc.
- First impressions: Allowing your first impressions to cloud your judgement. This may be positive or negative. Wait to form an opinion until the interview is concluded.
- Halo/horn effect: The halo effect is allowing one strong point about a candidate to influence everything you observe or hear. For example, you may overlook that the candidate failed to answer a question because you are so impressed that he or she is a Harvard graduate. The horns effect is the opposite. You may decide a candidate is not suitable because they don’t have a degree, regardless of how well they perform and how much experience they have.
- Nonverbal bias: You may be biased towards or against candidates because of nonverbal attributes that have nothing to do with suitability for the job. A classic example of this is attractiveness – in studies, attractive people are usually rated as cleverer, more successful, more trustworthy and kinder than less attractive peers.
- Contrast effect: Your opinion of a candidate’s suitability may be clouded by the contrast with the previous candidate. A candidate interviewed immediately after a weak candidate may appear more suitable or qualified because of the contrast between the two, and a candidate interviewed immediately after a strong candidate may appear weaker.
- Compatibility: We rate people who are “like us” higher on all factors (in the same way as attractiveness). This can lead to selecting someone with similar background, qualifications, personality, style etc for the role.
- The Primacy and Recency effect: The first (primacy) and last (recency) candidate are likely to be rated higher than those in the middle. Also during each interview, the answers to the first and last questions are likely to influence our overall opinion of the candidate.
Interviewing well is a skill:
- Consider the characteristics / values / motives that are required for the role, not just the skills
- Develop well thought-out questions and other activities to allow candidates to demonstrate those attributes and skills
- Watch body language – if you spot inconsistency it needs to be explored
- Be aware of your biases
Rosalind Cardinal is the Principal Consultant of Shaping Change, a Hobart based consultancy, specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is a solutions and results oriented facilitator and coach, with a career in the Human Resources and Organisational Development field spanning more than 20 years. Ros brings an energetic and proactive approach combined with a wealth of knowledge and experience. Her expertise spans leadership development, organisational culture, team building, change and transition management, organisational behaviour, employee engagement and motivation, strategic direction and management.