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Stephen Crowe

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process

It’s 1998, I’ve graduated from university with an Honours degree and it’s time to step out into the real world to find my first real job. Now, fast forwarding 20 years to 2018, I take a look at how things have changed for jobseekers, to a process that is now barely recognisable.

 

Back in 1998, you would have to set time aside to look for your next role. Usually, after work one evening or at the weekend and the first step was to pick up the newspaper and trawl through the adverts. Quite often this was a once a week publication, if it was a local paper, or if it was a national print, certain days were popular for advertising the latest openings. And to make things worse, there were no classifications. All jobs, accounting, engineering, plumbing, IT, or whatever were all bundled together.

 

Secondly, most people only produced one version of their resume back then. What was better known as a Curriculum Vitae, or CV, it was mostly printed and sent in the mail or even handed over to reception for the attention of the “Personnel Officer”. CVs were often quite lengthy documents too, outlining every job you’d had since leaving school.

 

If you were selected for an interview back in the day, they were fairly straight forward. Often, you’d be invited in to answer a series of questions to an interview panel including the HR team, the hiring manager and somebody from the team. The questions would be fairly straight forward, with candidates needing to demonstrate they had the previous experience and qualifications to be able to do the job.

 

So, what do we do now?

 

Technology has changed every part of the process. And not just computers, but phones too. I last heard that something like 80% of jobseekers use the mobile apps to search for their next role. People are looking at opportunities at any time of day now, on the way to work, at lunch or when they’re heading home.

 

So that part is significantly easier. However, the actual application process is now much more detailed.

 

When applying for a role these days, it is often recommended that candidates tailor their resume to the requirements of the role, rather than keeping a generic resume for every job. You need to think about what skills and experiences you have, that can be specifically applied to the role you are applying for. Another reason for tailoring the document is that many firms are now using technology as the first part of the filtering process, so candidates need to ensure that their resumes contain key words that appear in the job advertisement.

 

When your resume gets in front of a human being though, it needs to be presented in a more professional style than in the past. It should highlight your achievements and demonstrate what you have done for your employer that was above and beyond what they expected from you when they offered you the job. I read recently that some recruiters take just six seconds to review a CV. I find this hard to believe myself, as I know that when I am reading resumes, it takes me longer than that to read your name, address and date of birth. I believe most recruiters take around 30 second to decide whether to call a candidate or not, so the presentation needs to grab the eye.

 

Once you are selected for an interview, the preparation process is far more detailed. With so much information online, candidates need to research the company’s website, read up on news releases, understand the industry and know who the competition are. You need to spend time looking at the backgrounds of the people that you’ll be meeting, by viewing their LinkedIn profiles. And once you have completed the face to face interviews, we are often faced with a range of testing. Many employers now use psychometric or personality assessments and many continue to test potential employees on the IT skills with online skills testing.

 

process

When a potential employer likes your CV and requests an interview it can feel like you are on top of the world. The next step is to then prepare yourself for the interview. While there are many ways to make a lasting impression, I would like to look at what to avoid doing during an interview:

1. Don’t freeze up – While we can all be nervous at times, freezing up is not how you want to be remembered during the interview.

To overcome this you need to practice, practice, practice. Practice your interview questions and the scenarios you think you will encounter during the interview. This is a great way to deal with nerves and build confidence in your manner and responses. It is important to have a positive mindset on how the interview will go. If you believe you will fail the interview, chances are you will. It’s okay to admit that you’re nervous, but it is important to believe that you will perform well.  How do you do this?  Practice, Practice, Practice.

2. Don’t dominate – Confidence is essential to take into an interview, however, dominating an interview with your personal monologue is not what a potential employer is looking for. Remember the employer is making time to see you to learn specific information about you in order to assess your suitability for the role. If you are not allowing them to ask questions or cut them off mid-sentence, you will be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Practice listening skills as well as answering questions prior to the interview. Active listening can provide you with valuable insight about the company and the role you are applying for. It shows your genuine interest in the company/potential role and helps you tailor your responses to the interview questions.

3. Don’t be sloppy – Find out the company’s dress code standard prior to the interview. But no matter how casual the dress code – don’t be a slob. It should go without saying that whatever you wear should be clean, pressed and neat. It’s also better to be a little over-dressed rather than under-dressed. When someone comes to an interview looking like he or she has just rolled out of bed, it communicates lack of respect for the interviewer, the job and the company.

4. Don’t throw anybody under a bus – There may be circumstances that have caused you to move on from your previous role and how you address these in an interview is very important. Describing your previous boss as ‘incompetent’ or saying that you worked with the ‘colleague from hell,’ doesn’t help you to shine as a potential candidate. Saying negative things about your past work life in an interview only gives the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet.  Neither quality puts you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

If you have had a negative experience it may be better to portray it by commenting on what you have learned through the experience, and what you are hoping for in a future opportunity.

5. Don’t focus more on perks than the job – When you are tailoring your questions for the job interview, focus what will be required of you in the role and where it might lead in the future. Questions such as; how many weeks can I take for annual leave, how many sick days can I have per year or what sort of computer do I get, may give the impression that you are only interested in the role for the perks. The employer, on the other hand is looking to understand what you can provide to the company and whether you will complement their culture.

6. Don’t be opinion-free – To get the role doesn’t mean you need to be a ‘yes man’. If you need to ask more questions for clarification don’t be afraid to do so. It is important to show initiative and to have opinions as long as you can back them up with valid reasons, especially if you are applying for a leadership role.

 7. Don’t stretch the truth – Just don’t, it will come back to haunt you.

8. Don’t be clueless about the company – In the age of the internet, there is no excuse for going into an interview not having a solid foundation of knowledge about the company. If you don’t care enough to find out about the company, it’s natural for the interviewer to assume you won’t be that interested in finding out how to do the job well, either.

What are your experiences with interview dos and don’ts? What feedback would you provide to a candidate going in for the interview process?