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Interview Preparation - 3 Top Tips To Overcome The Jitters

Interview PreparationSuzie Finch
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Let's face it, job interviews can be pretty scary things.  The thought of being judged by a complete stranger is a daunting feeling for anyone.

I've seen brilliant candidates stumble at an interview stage based purely on nerves, which is a preventable and totally unnecessary problem (the view from the employer's side of the desk is - we just want candidates to do well and be themselves).

To help your interview preparation we've put together a few useful pointers to keep those interview nerves in check...

1. Interview Prep is King...

Research shows that you should spend roughly twice the amount of time researching your interview than actually attending it (that's about 2-3 hours). One of the big reasons you're nervous before an interview is the fear of stepping into the unknown, in-depth interview preparation is a great way to build confidence and gain insight.

  • Ask for a job specification (this is different from a job advert), it will give you better insight into the role, and what skills are required. Read it over and over;
  • Become a digital stalker… visit company websites as well as social media profiles.  Instagram and Facebook are good for understanding company culture, Twitter for general news and chat and LinkedIn for corporate structure and team bios.  
  • Don’t overlook the basics, get to the interview with plenty of time, check for travel disruptions, print out a high quality copy of your CV and prepare your outfit in advance (in case dry cleaning needed).

2. Slow Down, Listen and be in Control…

The start of an interview is when nerves tend to hit their peak. Be sure to take breaths, remain calm and consider each question carefully before answering. The early questioning stage of an interview is generally the hardest and most stressful, but relax, as things go on you should start to get into the swing of things and even start to enjoy it.  

The key is to remain calm, take a few seconds to contemplate each question before answering (don’t spurt out answers!), and don’t be afraid to ask interviewers to repeat questions or clarify what they mean.

If you are the fidgety type, then a useful way to stem that nervous energy is to hold a pen and jot down notes.  Not only will this make you look professional, but it will act as a distraction from the interview and give you time to collect your thoughts.

3. Silence That Little Voice in your Head…

Before your interview you need to channel positive energy, don’t worry, I’m not going to start quoting “Mr Motivator” but it’s the small things can make a real difference.  Ensure your music playlist is up-beat and positive. Give yourself a pep talk to silence any negative “I’m not good enough” thoughts and smile – you’ve got an interview at (we assume) a top employer you want to work at.

Once you overcome your nerves, you’ll realise that job interviews aren’t that scary, it’s just two groups of people chatting about stuff they should know about. So relax, don’t worry (as the worst outcome is not getting a job you don’t have in the first place) and nail it with confidence and a smile.  Good luck!

 

7 Questions You MUST Ask In Your Next Job Interview...

Job Search AdviceSuzie Finch
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Sometimes the best way to show initiative in an interview is to ask a few bright questions, go on, impress your future bosses!

Here are 7 questions you MUST ask in your next interview...

1) What is the working environment like?

// Employers love to talk about themselves, this is a great question to uncover what it's really like to work at the company.  If you see enthusiasm then it's a pretty good bet that this is a good place to work.

2) Is there autonomy in the role - Can I use my own initiative?

// Highlight to your employer that you are willing to take the bull by the horns and to go above and beyond what the minimum requires.  Employers don't like to micro-manage employees so they will be impressed with this question!

3) What long term career progression is there?

// No business likes a high staff turnover, this question shows employers you are in it for the long haul!

4) Why did YOU join X company?

// Highlight your curious side and gain insight into what made other people join their business.

5) Can I meet the team? or What is the team dynamic like?

// Show interest in the team environment, meet them, and influence the influencers.

6) Do you have any social events?

// Understand the bigger picture!  Employers love staff who contribute outside the office and buy into the complete corporate culture.  This question says "I'm up for it!"

7) What time does the office open / shut?

// Show that you're a hard worker!  This question implies that you are prepared to go beyond the standard 9 to 5.  It is also a nice way of teasing out the working hours without asking it as a direct question.

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CV Advice | 9 Things You Should NEVER Include On Your CV

CV AdviceSuzie Finch
CV Advice

 

You might just be hurting your application chances by including any of the following points on your CV.

Here are 9 things you should never include on your CV...

1) Full Personal Address:

// A general location is perfect, if you are not local to the position you must ALWAYS include info relating to your relocation "relocating to: LOCATION in DATE" or "Happy to relocate".

2) A Third Person:

// Never talk about yourself in the third person, this isn't a magazine interview!

3) Unexplained Gaps:

// Ensure your CV flows, and makes sense. If you spent 2 years on a sabbatical trekking in the Andes then say so.

4) Full Reference Details (emails, phone numbers):

// Only at the interview / offer stage should this information be disclosed.

5) Your Life Story:

// Your CV is an introduction, not a dossier on your life history. Keep it succinct and no longer than 2 pages.

6) Your Salary Expectations:

// Don't restrict your chances of an interview (phone / face-to-face), you are better positioned to negotiate a strong salary if you have already excelled in an interview.

7) An Avalanche of Bullet Points:

// Take the time to write about each section in your CV, bullet points are great but use them sparingly.

8) Negative Words:

// Leave out all negativity (unfortunately, difficult, frustrating, problems, discouraged) and focus on positive words (achiever, capable, enthusiastic, talented, powerful).

9) Family Details:

// Avoid listing personal information such as marital status, dependents, religion etc.

7 Reasons Why You're Doing This Job Search Thing All Wrong

Job Search AdviceSuzie Finch
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If you've been left wondering why you're not getting enough interviews or even having trouble finding the right jobs in the first place then here are 7 reasons why you might just be doing this job search thing all wrong...

1.) You're Only Searching On A Few Sites

// Not all jobs are advertised on the big job boards, look beyond Monster, Career Builder, LinkedIn etc. and you will find a plethora of riches.

There is a long tail of fresh jobs on smaller and lesser known boards, search and bookmark a range of major generalist, niche and regional sources to widen your search.

Applying to positions on smaller job sites means you'll face less competition as employers will receive fewer applications.

2.) Your CV Sucks (and is probably way too long)

// To take your career seriously you need to spend some time properly writing and designing your CV, it is a competitive world out there and you need to stand out.

Also, despite what anyone says - 3 pages is too long. Keep your CV / Resume succinct and to the point (2 pages at most) - recruiters and employers really appreciate this!

3.) You're Not Following Your Job Application Up By Phone

// I've lost count the amount of times I've heard "I’d actually discounted that candidate but after speaking to them on the phone they sounded great!" - People Hire People - Follow up on applications within 2 days by phone, speak directly to the decision makers and make a lasting impression! This tactic will improve your chances exponentially.

4.) Trusting Recruitment Agents

// Be warned, Recruitment Agents are NOT your friend! - Recruitment agencies get paid for placing you in a job, so their actions will always be based around making the highest fee possible. They will always follow the path that makes them the most money and not what is in your best interest. Tread carefully!

5.) You're Being Too Generic

// You need to tailor your application to each position you apply for. "If you try to appeal to everyone you'll appeal to no one". Be specific, actually write a good cover letter and mirror terms used in job adverts within your CV / Resume. I know this takes longer, but employers will respect you for it and you will notice the increase in interviews immediately - guaranteed!

6.) Typos! - Attention To Detail!

// As David Ogilvy (the father of advertising) once said "If it is something important, get a colleague to read and improve it." I would say your CV is pretty important, so get someone else to proof read your CV, tell them the types of positions you are applying for and if they can offer up any suggestions or find any typos / grammatical errors.

7.) You're Not Organised Enough (make Excel your best friend).

// Track your activity - keep tabs on your applications and interviews and stay organised, if you understand what's working (and what's not) you'll never miss an opportunity again. Download or create a Job Search Organiser to log everything and ensure you boss your job hunt!

6 Reasons Why You Didn't Land A Job Interview (and what to do about it)...

Suzie Finch
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If you've ever been left wondering "why not me" here's some insight into what happens to your CV after you've hit the "apply now" button.

1) The Hiring Manager never even saw your CV...

// Less than 5% of advertised jobs go through a direct hiring manager. What this means is your CV is subject to a pre-screening process conducted by an agent, office manager, HR person or similar. You need to win over this gatekeeper, here's how:

  • Speak to them directly - Sell your skills!
  • Make your CV awesome - For inspiration check out our shop
  • Use relevant keywords - Make your CV reflect the skills in the job ad.

2) You weren't quick enough...

// Make sure your CV is one of the first in the hat. Employers are most enthusiastic at the start of the job search process, they are keen to book interviews and fill positions. Ensure your application lands on the desk of an employer before interviews get arranged otherwise you might just end up on the pile of unreads

 Be active on the job sites - set up job alerts and apply to new positions immediately.

 3) You're being stalked...

// It's standard practice for employers to delve deep into your social status and online personality, so how you come across plays a key part in the selection process. In-fact over 50% of employers / recruiters have changed their mind after reviewing social profiles. 

Clean up your online brand, check privacy issues and delete derogatory comments.

 4) Your CV was a bit blurgh...

// A standard 2 page word document doesn't really cut it anymore, make an impact and drive interest in your skills. Be creative and highly professional with your CV template.

5) Tough competition..

// With average response rates to jobs circling around 62 applications expect to face stiff competition. Let your competitive side rule to give yourself the best chance of winning - stay organised, motivated and determined to win through - job search planners will also help.

 6) External factors...

// Things happen for reasons completely out of your control. It could be the vacancy was filled internally, a company restructure may have taken place, or a more critical role has opened up that needs filling first. Find out when situations arise so you can move on, focusing your time on active requirements.

 

“Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale