Interview Guidelines

JOB SEEKER’S TOOLKIT

  • Getting a good job is a life-affirming experience. Meaningful work allows us to maximise our potential as human beings, provides us with financial security and is a powerful element in building a cohesive Country.Employers in SA and in the World are facing acute skills and labour shortages that impact on productivity and competitiveness. Employers want to employ the best person for the job to enhance performance in both the private and public sectors. Equally, employees want to maximise their talents and potential in employment throughout their lives.

Interviewing Skills
P
reparing for the “Audition”

A well-managed job search campaign will eventually result in getting invitations to job interviews. Landing an interview is just the first major hurdle – it means the job seeker has “made the cut” into a small group of people being considered for the position. The next hurdle to clear is the interview itself – the opportunity to prove s/he is the best person for the job.

The interview is extremely important, because each person granted an interview is probably also qualified for the job. The decision about who gets hired now comes down to who the interviewer(s) believe will be the “best fit” for the organization:

  • who is most prepared and knowledgeable about the company and the job
  • who seems the most capable
  • who has the kind of personality that will mesh with co-workers
  • who is most likeable

From the employer’s perspective, the interview process isn’t always the most reliable way to pick the best job candidates. In fact, many employers complain that it’s impossible to know whether or not a person can do a job just based on an interview; consequently many hiring decisions are based the interviewer’s “gut instinct”.

When preparing for an interview, it’s useful to think of it as an “audition”. The interviewer wants to know if the applicant can:

  • “Hit all the notes” – does the applicant have the skills needed to do the job?
  • “Play in unison with the band” – can the person get along with co-workers?
  • “Show up for every performance on time” — Is the person dependable?
  • “Learn new tunes” – Can the applicant learn the job within a reasonable timeframe?

“Audition” Tips

The person being interviewed has the challenge of proving to the interviewer that they can do all of these things. Some interviewers are more skilled than others at asking the right questions, but even if an employer isn’t an effective interviewer, an applicant can still find a way to “play a few notes” to prove they’re qualified for the job.

Suggested “audition” tips:

  • Bring examples of work — reports you’ve written, spreadsheets you’ve created, or any other applicable examples of work. Be prepared to:
    • explain the assignment/problem
    • what you did to solve the problem
    • what results were achieved. Be specific!
  • Offer to “role play” – let the employer play the role of a customer or boss, and then demonstrate how you would respond to their needs in a “real life” situation.
  • Ask the interviewer to pose a problem and offer examples of how you would solve that problem. Try to address an actual problem that the employer is currently facing.
Interview Briefings

We could elaborate on how each consultant has been hand-picked and trained on a continuous basis on interviewing techniques, and that – having been selected out of an excess of 200 applicants received each day – your application has already been put through the initial stages of a rigorous screening process!

But no, we’d much rather spend this brief but critical time to sharpen up on YOUR interviewing techniques:

Your Career Path
Your interviewer will need to collect a clear career patch picture from you – a spectacular 20/20 hindsight, but still worth viewing!

Your Marketability
This information will be used to either place you a cut above the rest, or cut you to size!
We’ll need you to be as specific as possible on projects/accounts you dealt with, and why your contribution was outstanding…

Your Wish List
Unless your Christmas list is very work-specific – that’s not exactly what we’re looking for here!
This is where your interviewer will gather very specific information on your realistic expectation of your very next position.

The purpose up to now, was to focus your thought on the 3 areas we’ll be concentrating on, but our top priority would be to meet YOU, this unique human being we’ve invited and ultimately connect you with an organisation, perfectly fitting to your emotional, intellectual and “progressional” needs.

To complete this briefing, a few tips picked up in the industry:

  • Eye contact is very important
  • Easy on the perfume
  • Rather over – then be under-dressed – yes, and never un-dress!
  • Be well prepared – visit the company’s website
  • A fresh breath is important – but never talk with a mouth-full!
  • Even though the company should have your CV, take a copy with – you never know where Murphy might turn up!

Switch off your cell and arrive about 15 minutes early…

Interviewing Skills

Dressing for Success:

The way you present yourself at an interview can play a large part in the first impression you give off, so make sure you dress appropriately.

Knowing what to wear for a job interview is half the battle of the interview itself. The old adage could never be so true, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

When you’re going to a job interview, your appearance is extremely important. Whether or not you look professional or sloppy could play a huge role in whether your interview feels that you are suitable for the job.

Check out the company culture:

When first deciding what to wear for a job interview, you should first take into consideration the culture of the company you are interviewing with, and dress accordingly. Are you interviewing with a company where the employees wear suits everyday or do they wear t-shirts and jeans?

A suit is not always the best choice for a job interview. If you show up wearing a suit and tie and all the employees are wearing shorts and flip-flops, you will look out of place, feel uncomfortable and may give off the wrong energy. The same is true of the opposite. If you show up wearing shorts and flip-flops to a company that wears professional attire, it could give the impression that you are not a good fit for the company.

The industry you are interviewing for should also be taken into consideration, as the dress code for an accounting firm is likely to be different to that of a construction company, for example.

Match the interviewer:

If you want to get the job, your choice of what to wear for a job interview should match or be slightly dressier than the dresscode of the company. For example, if the normal work attire of the company is business casual, it’s ok to wear a suit to impress. If the normal work attire is casual, it’s ok to wear a business casual outfit to impress as well.

After you decide whether a professional, business casual, or casual outfit is most appropriate for your interview, here are some guidelines you may want to follow when deciding what to wear for your job interview.

The key is to wear clothing that you feel comfortable and look great in, while at the same time matching the corresponding dress code of the company. That way you’ll give off great energy and let your true personality shine through.

Present yourself neatly:

Make sure your clothes are clean and neatly ironed. Nothing gives away the lack of attention to detail more than wrinkled or dirty clothing. Select clothing that fits properly, as ill-fitting clothing can appear scruffy and you wearing clothes that fit will help you to feel comfortable and relax in your interview.

Good grooming and hygiene is essential, so make sure you have clean hair, fingernails, fresh breath, deodorant, etc. Hair should be styled in a neat but manageable style, as the last thing you want to be doing during the interview is stressing about your fancy new up-do coming unpinned, however I recommend you keep it pulled back from your face. Men, if you have facial hair, be sure to give it a trim/comb through ahead of the interview, so that you look as neat and tidy as possible.

Perfume and aftershave should be used sparingly, so that it is not overpowering and the same goes for makeup, that should be kept subtle. Don’t wear flashy jewellery, as it may become distracting and you’ll want the interviewer to pay attention to you, not your bling.

Avoid loud prints:

It’s good to show a bit of personality in your outfit choice, however it is best to stick to block colours, rather than loud, busy prints. Don’t be afraid of going for a slightly brighter shade, as it can help you to stand out and appear more confident. Try to find a balance between smart and stylish.

Novelty ties and socks are best avoided. Yes, the interviewer will notice!

Accessorise smartly:

You can inject a bit of personality into your outfit with the accessories that you select, so if you’d rather play it safe with your outfit choice, why no pair it with a nice bag or pair of shoes?

Accessories should be kept smart, so if you are taking a bag with you, a smart satchel, briefcase or handbag would be the better option over a backpack.

Shoes should be clean and newish looking. Keep heels at a sensible height.

CV Tips & Guidelines

Employers receive an average of 60 qualified applicants for every advertisement for a low-skilled job, and 20 qualified applicants for every skilled job. Realistically in the South African context however, this translates to 100+ unqualified applicants for both skilled and unskilled jobs over and above the qualified applicants.

Significantly, almost half of these qualified candidates are perfectly suitable for the role, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

So that makes their resume all the more important when attempting to stand out from the crowd.

Experts say there are some golden rules for getting a CV correct, not least accuracy, spelling and grammar.

Don’t repeat the mistakes, they say, of a lawyer who stressed his “dew diligence”, or the applicant who ignored commas when describing his interests as “cooking dogs and interesting people”.

Key points:

Applicants will often need to complete an application and send a CV.

If sending a CV as a hard copy, along with a job application, then it needs to be neat and typed. The layout, presentation, fonts and graphics used can say a lot about the individual submitting the CV.

Increasingly, applicants are asked to send a digital copy of a CV. If this is the case then the first set of “eyes” to see it might be an automated search for key words, so experts suggest applicants ensure mandatory requirements in the job advert are included in the CV.

Digital CVs should be in a simple format and font so readability is not affected on different screens.

Other tips include:

  • Tailor a CV to a specific job – it is vital to ensure the script is relevant to each job application, rather than sending the same generic CV.
  • Keep it simple – it should be easy to read and use active language ie. “I am” versus “I did”
  • Include key information – personal details including name, address, phone number, email address and any professional social media presence should be clear.
  • A photo is a matter of choice but adds personality to the application.
  • Showcase achievements – offer evidence of how targets were exceeded and ideas created, but always be honest.
  • A CV should be a clear description of your character, skills and successes – The CV should differentiate you from the other candidates that submitted their CV’s.
  • Check and double check – avoid sloppy errors, take a fresh look the next day and ask for a second opinion from a trusted friend or colleague.

Changing CVs:

It is important that applicants put modesty aside and show self-confidence in their CV.

“If you are not confident about your skills and abilities then why should an employer have faith in you,” she says.

Video CVs are used more regularly to adapt to the evolvement of our technology changes in recruitment. Some employers ask for video CVs where applicants describe their skills and experience on a short video filmed on their smartphone. Alternatively, a video CV may be required to complete application forms online.

Social Media is used quite extensively by future Employers to evaluate overall behaviour and activities – Be careful of what is shared on these open platforms.

Help and examples:

There are plenty of useful tools and templates to assist people writing up their CV for the first time, or brushing up an existing one.

2 x Great Templates are available on our Site “Create your CV”

Top 10 Tips

What do we need to see on your CV?

Start with a detailed job description for each of the jobs that you have had with special emphasis on your current role. To get this right, sit down and start with a list of what you are directly responsible for completing, achieving, developing, supporting or maintaining in a standard 8 hour day.

Important things to include in the pin-point descriptions are:

  • A list of ALL of your day-to-day tasks.
  • A full description of each of the projects that you are, or have been, involved in.
    Remember to include things like the project name, aim, your specific role and the outcome of the project.

A few examples:

If you are in Finance we need things like Bookvalues, Type of Accounts, Local or Foreign Currency etc.

If you are in Sales it is important to mention your Sales Budget and what you actually achieve, What area do you service, Who are your clients, What Products you sell etc.

If you are in Buyer you need to inform us of How many suppliers you work with, Is your suppliers locally or internationally based, What is your Stock Value, What Products do you source, Do you get involved in handling planning and forecasts,what reports do you generate etc

  • Resources: How many people did you supervise?
  • Technologies: What technologies were utilized? (i.e. MS Office, Accpac, Pastel, SAP, C# on SQL Server 2005 and Visual Studio 2008)
  • Responsibilities: What were your direct responsibilities within the team?
  • Outcome: How long did the project take to complete? Did it meet deadlines and expectations?
  • A list of any special achievements you’ve had on the job.
  • The job title of the person you report to.

Putting together a proper job description for each of your current and previous roles will go a long way towards creating a CV that will stand out from the pack – this will make it easier for Recruiters to identify
you as a potential match for the job!

Remember: The best detailed CV gets the Interview and not the longest CV!!!

do_donts