So…. You have graduated and are ready to enter the world of work….but need to get hired first and in order to do so, get through the interview process. This can be a daunting challenge, amidst stiff competition and tough economic times.
While we are all facing the challenges Lockdown presents us with, it is the perfect time to keep you’re your spirits up and work on your job hunting skills! These tips are sure to assist you secure your interview and knock the interviewers off their feet!
1. MAKE YOUR CV STAND OUT – companies receive many CV’s on a regular basis and are inundated by the number of applications per job. It’s incredibly important that your CV stands out from the crowd by being eye-catching, clear to read and concise. Don’t keep it black and white – choose a format, add colour and an appropriate photo of yourself (if it suits your personality), make sure there are no spelling errors and ask friends for objective feedback. There are many fresh CV formats on the internet to review, be sure to select one that represents you well. This step is a critical one, and it must share your strengths and abilities accurately - or else you will find the interview difficult. Our Coaching Packages specialise in an entire series based on developing your CV, and is a common area people need help in.
2. EMAIL ETIQUETTE – When emailing your CV to companies for advertised positions, it is incredibly important that your correspondence is professional, error free and that you respond quickly to emails. A common mistake of graduates is to have an unprofessional email address, so ensure you get a free one on Gmail using just your name and surname. So please avoid "email@example.com" and stick to something simple like "SarahB@gmail.com". Another common mistake, is to email too many documents. Only email the documents that are required - this shows that you have paid attention to the detail and instructions of the job advert - showing off your skills before they have even looked at your cv ...NICE!
3. KNOW YOUR CV – in preparation for your interview, it is important that you know the details on your CV, the subjects you wrote, your achievements etc so that you are comfortable talking freely without having to refer to your documentation. Never lie on your CV, it won't only get you charged - it will also not serve you landing a job that is right for you. Rather be authentic and true to your KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities).
4. PREPARE FOR YOUR INTERVIEW THOROUGHLY – the days of rocking up and “winging it” are over! You cannot prepare enough! Know the panel of interviewers, research their profiles, understand the job description, research the company, read the news, prepare questions, plan your outfit, know where you are going ahead of time.
5. PRACTICE INTERVIEWING – We all need practice with interviews and tackling difficult and unexpected questions. Google some generic interview questions and practice interviewing with a friend. Be open to constructive feedback. Remember, during these times of Lockdown and innovative ways of interviewing - you may need to do a video call as the first interview. Be sure to dress up, clean up the environment you will interviewing from (the areas they can see), use headphones, ensure a quiet environment. The same tips of a regular interview apply, but of course your face is at the centre of attention. So, ensure you look at the camera instead of looking away, speak clearly and smile
6. ARRIVE EARLY FOR YOUR INTERVIEW – if you arrive late, you may be regretted immediately. It is vital to aim at arriving 30 minutes earlier to your interview so you can orientate yourself, be prepared and not flustered. In the case of a vide interview - ensure you are online 10 minutes earlier than the time. Test your video and audio before hand so you don't get caught up with technical issues that may distract you.
7. LOOK THE PART – Tailor make your outfit for the company/role you are being interviewed for. When in doubt, overdress and remember the importance of a first impression!
8. FIND ENERGY – Even if you are introverted by nature, energy is a choice and you need to choose to have a spark, speak up, maintain eye contact, be enthusiastic and positive. People hire People and it’s important to establish a connection with the interviewer. A great way to channel your energy is taking a few deep breaths in ...and...out. Count to 4 on the in-breath and 4 on the out-breath. This settles your heart rate, allowing you to speak clearly while still showing enthusiasm!
9. DON’T FIDDLE – Being nervous is normal but avoid fiddling such as clicking a pen, sniffing your nose, juggling your keys…this is distracting for the interviewer. Instead place your hands on your lap if need be. Same applies to a video interview - and of course don't touch your face ;) (not just applicable to COVID-19)
10. AVOID ONE WORD ANSWERS – To establish a connection, it’s important to engage in conversation and when asked a question, try to answer in full sentences and include an example to elaborate without going off topic or waffling. You want to avoid awkward silences.
11. NO CHEWING GUM OR CELL PHONES – Ensure your cell phone is switched off and that you are not chewing gum. It is very distracting and shows the interviewers that you are not serious about the opportunity. Shake hands firmly (not too firm) and be polite to everyone from the security guard to the receptionist.
12. THANK THEM FOR THEIR TIME – Be sure to thank the panel for their time. In fact, if this is an interview with a hiring manager - a great tip is to email them right after the interview to say thank you. It shows genuine interest and courtesy. If you are in a video interview, ensure you turn the call off once done - you don't want them to hear you speaking after the interview is over.
13. BE RESILIENT AND CONSISTENT – Remember that successful people do consistently what others to occasionally! Every interview prepares you for the next one so stay positive, focussed and don’t give up!
These critical skills can be difficult to master. Sivuka coaches help young job seekers in these trying times through online coaching. If you are still struggling to land the job or even just the interview, we specialise in exactly this! We know how tough it is and have assisted 1000’s of graduates and job seekers in their careers. Keen? Drop us a mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at our coaching packages.
Orla Ollewagen writes for Sivuka Consulting and holds a BCom degree majoring in Industrial Psychology and Business Management. She has over 20 years experience in Recruitment, Executive Search and Human Resources.After spending 9 years in Corporate HR within the Financial Services sector, Orla chose to specialise in recruitment and selection. She is the Managing Director of The Appointment Firm and in addition to being hands on, oversees the running of the office. She has a heart for people and the youth, is committed to service delivery and making a difference in the lives of candidates.