Looking for helpful hints to give you a leg up on future interviews? John Lees is the man with the answers. An experienced careers coach with a background in recruiter training and assessment, and author of the best selling career advice book How to Get a Job You’ll Love, here he shares five keys to having a successful interview — from the recruiter’s perspective:
‘I’m not here to give your career a boost!
Too many job seekers believe that recruitment consultants or HR specialists are there to give you free career advice, or that they will only offer you a job if it moves you in the right direction. Think again. Agency recruiters are simply trying to fill a role before someone else does, and HR have their own internal clients to support. A recruitment consultant doesn’t usually have the answer to your career questions, but can give you good feedback about what the market is looking for.
‘I have given your CV less attention than my breakfast cereal packet!’
Too many people in the recruitment process are under-prepared. CVs and application forms are intrinsically uninteresting documents, and get little detailed attention unless something highly positive (or negative) stands out. Be prepared to give a two minute summary of what you’ve done, your skills, where you have made a difference, and what you are looking for when called for the interview. In other words, be prepared to give a 30 second elevator pitch: a precis of your CV.
‘I don’t really understand the job I’m trying to find the right candidate for!’
Far too many external recruiters try to make selection decisions based on skimpy or out of date information. Job Descriptions often bear little relationship to the role itself. Where competencies are listed, often the interviewer has very little idea of exactly how they will be used in the workplace. Ask intelligent questions, but do your own homework about what the job entails. Before accepting a role, ask for a visit to spend time with prospective colleagues. Ask the killer question: ‘What exactly will I be doing most of the time in this job?’
‘We actually already have someone in mind (but we’re not going to let on!)’
Many apparently fair and open selection processes are anything but. Organisations often have someone lined up informally – someone who expects to get the job. This may be an internal candidate who has been waiting patiently for the role to come up. Find out by asking about recent appointments and how seriously the organisation is interested in appointing external candidates. Don’t always take an interview just for the practice — rejection still knocks you back.
‘Don’t bother asking for feedback!’
It’s rare to get meaningful, objective feedback. Organisations are too interested in protecting themselves against claims for unfair treatment. Worse, sometimes the feedback you are given is misleading and discouraging. Accept that you haven’t been appointed (why? – you will rarely know the real reason) and if you ask for feedback simply ask what you did well and where you could improve your interview performance in future.
~ See www.johnleescareers.com for a range of FREE tools and tips.