As an executive search company, we would like to be able to help our candidates, especially in CV preparation, preparing for interviews and conducting themselves during interview. We have therefore written up some advice that we hope you will find useful:-
A. PREPARING YOUR CV
It is recommended that you give sufficient time and thought to developing your CV, as this is effectively your personal selling tool. Whilst we always interview you before submitting your CV to any of our clients and we present you to the client with our interview notes, it is essential your CV is tailored to the position we are putting you forward for, in order to demonstrate you meet the brief. Your updated CV should focus on your strengths, responsibilities, achievements and be structured effectively….first impressions count a lot in recruitment. My preference as a recruiter is to have a few sentences at the beginning of your CV that gives a short summary of who you are, what you do and what makes you unique. Follow this with your current employer - your most recent experience is the most important to focus on. As you go back in time, follow the same format, but give less space for each job. At the end, highlight your qualifications, training, languages, membership of associations and hobbies. Ideally, you should aim to have a CV of 3 pages maximum with short, punchy text, quantifying results, especially if you are in sales.
B. HELP WITH INTERVIEW PREPARATION
- Prepare thoroughly for the interview by researching the company. This has become much easier with the help of the internet. Most companies have detailed websites where you can obtain financial information, details about new products and services launched, how they go to market and what associations, forums and regulatory authorities they are members of. This can give useful information about what technical areas and protocols they have an interest in. You should also take a look at the profile of the hiring manager on Linked In, to understand a bit about his or her background and where there may be some common ground – people often like people who have a similar background, or shared experiences, since they can understand you better and can see you fitting into his or hers organisation more easily.
- Understand the kind of interview you are going into – typically there are 5 types,
- The Screening Interview: This is usually the first interview you will have with the client and they will be assessing whether you meet their minimum requirements.
- Assessment Interview: Clients may like to assess how you perform in different situations, for example, you may be asked to do a presentation and take questions and answers to see how you would perform in front of a customer and how you handle pressure. You may also be required to do various tests.
- Selection Interview – This is the typical kind of interview where you will be assessed on your current and past achievements and compared to other candidate’s skill sets relevant to the job. HR and more than one hiring manager can often be involved. They will want to also assess your fit to the company, ie, your soft skills – how well you get on with people and if you could fit in with the business culture.
- Competency Interview – This is gaining in popularity, particularly with larger organisations. It is hard to prepare for, as you will be asked specific questions which put you in typical workplace scenarios and you won’t know the questions. Your answers will be written down word for word and HR and the hiring manager(s) will gauge your suitability accordingly. The best way to prepare is to think of examples of where you have performed well and be prepared to tailor them to questions where you can. Avoid giving examples where you were only part of a process and not the person achieving the goal if possible, or where the example is not relevant.
- Final Interview – If you’ve done well enough to get to this stage, don’t blow it by taking unnecessary risks. Getting down to this final stage means you’ve got what it takes to do the job and it is normal for a senior manager to meet you and effectively ‘rubber stamp’ you, as being the right choice/fit for the organisation.
- Get as much information and advice as possible about the company, and most importantly the hiring manager. We can help with this, but if you know people in the industry, you should try and find out what you can, unless you prefer to keep everything confidential.
- You should also find out why the job has become vacant. Is it because the company is re-structuring due to job losses, is because they are expanding fast and have new positions to fill?
- What kind of cultural fit is there – this helps you to tailor your presentation style.
- Find out the management structure and what kind of salary, if not already known.
- What amount of travelling is involved and is it what you’re happy with?
- Get as much detail on the job specification as possible. Make sure you highlight your RELEVANT skills at the interview.
- What kind of personal characteristics are they looking for?
The list is not exhaustive, but does cover key areas that you should be fully aware of before going to the interview. Preparing for a job interviews in the wireless and mobile sector means you will be expected to have a certain level of technical knowledge. Since the industry is always in a state of change, you may find our ‘Technical Terms Explained’ page useful, as we and link to whatis.com and go to the drop down menu where you can select a topic such as ‘Networking’. Within this there are sub-sections like telecoms, wireless technologies, wireless LAN, high speed networks, internet of things (IoT), networking and communications, routing and switching, and so on.
C. QUESTIONS TO EXPECT DURING THE INTERVIEW
The kind of questions you will get asked will depend very much upon your profession, the years experience you have and the level you are reporting into. For example, if you are applying for a VP Sales position, the client is going to be much more interested in your leadership skills, management of people and your ability to develop and implement a winning sales strategy, compared to a technical position, like a systems engineer, where you will be expected to know a lot of technical detail, but probably won’t be asked about man management skills. However, there are some common areas and you should be prepared to handle questions relating to the following:-
- Gaps in employment
- Reasons for leaving current and previous jobs
- What motivates you?
- Why do you think you are a suitable candidate for our company?
- What are your career ambitions?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you handle criticism?
- What is your single greatest achievement and why?
- Why do you want the job?
- Are you a good team player?
- What do you think makes a good team member?
- What do you think makes a good team leader?
- Have you done your best work as part of a team, or on your own?
- Give an example of a problem you had and how you went about resolving it?
D. QUESTIONS TO ASK AT INTERVIEW
- Why is the job available?
- What is the structure of the organisation? Who do I report to?
- What are my objectives/KPI’s? Financial, volume, market share, sales targets, technical developments.
- KPI’s – how will my performance be evaluated?
- How do I know my objectives and/or KPI’s will be set at a realistic and achievable level?
- What resources will I have at my disposal – people; financial to get the job done? Do you consider these resources sufficient?
- What are the drivers shaping the business in the short, medium and long term?
- What are the strategic goals and direction of the business?
- What differentiates the company, compared to its rival in terms of technical competence, brand, speed to market, low cost solutions etc.? DOES IT DELIVER A SUSTAINABLE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE?
- What will be my priorities in the first 3 months?
- How would you describe your management style?
- How would you describe the culture - what kind of people do well here?
E. HELPFUL TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL INTERVIEW
(i) PRE-INTERVIEW – PHONE INTERVIEW
- Dress smartly – a suit is still the norm for interviews and when you look good, you will naturally be more confident. Remember, first impressions are extremely important. An interviewer will make up his/her mind usually in the first 5 minutes of the interview, so your image/impression you create is very important.
- Arrive early – ideally 10-15 minutes before the meeting. This will give you time to settle any last minute nerves and focus on the task in hand.
(iv) THE INTERVIEW
- When you meet your interviewer, give a firm handshake, make eye contact and smile. A positive impression is very important at this early stage.
- Wait to be asked to be seated. Ask to make yourself comfortable, by taking off your jacket if you need to.
- Avoid sitting face to face, but sit to the side – it is less confrontational.
- Be careful how you sit – don’t fold your arms, or cross your legs – this is defensive behaviour and signals to the interviewer you are uncomfortable with the questions.
- Be relaxed and focused. Above all listen to the questions asked, pause before answering and then answer clearly and concisely without waffling or straying off the point.
- Remember, the interviewer has a job to fill and wants you to be successful.
- Don’t raise questions about salary/package until later stages. Normally, this matter will be raised at the end of the first interview at the earliest and you should leave it to the interviewer to raise.
- Don’t get defensive if questions are asked that you may be sensitive to. For example, why did you leave your last job? You should have developed answers to these kinds of questions when you were preparing for the interview. If you have prepared well, keep you composure and answer the questions clearly and concisely. Don’t volunteer too much information – the more you say, the more likely the interviewer will probe and ask further information, which could be to your disadvantage.
- If you had problems with your previous employer, don’t be negative about them, it doesn’t normally persuade the interviewer. Always maintain a positive outlook.
- If you come under pressure for a sustained period, this can often be to test how you are under pressure. Don’t respond by being aggressive or defensive. Maintain your professionalism at all times and keep calm and focused.
- Always keep at the back of your mind what the key parts of the job are and try to answer questions that tie your skills and experiences that are relevant to the job.
- Delivery is all important. You need to be positive and convey that you have lots of energy and enthusiasm for the job and the company. If you have your head down, mumble, fold your arms and have no eye contact, it doesn’t really matter what you say, you are unlikely to be successful. The interviewer would have switched off long ago!
(V) AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW
- Always allow yourself the opportunity to sum up your skills and experiences, pertinent to the job, so the interviewer is left with a clear impression that you can do the job and that you are a good match.
- Allow the interviewer to call an end to the meeting. Now is the time to ask if there are any reasons for concern over your suitability. It’s best to address these there and then, maintaining a positive impression when you leave.
- Ask for a business card, so you can follow up with an email, or a phone call. This is another opportunity to reinforce why you are the right person for the job.
- End the interview on a positive note, making sure the interviewer is fully aware that you are keen to take the opportunity forward.
- If not mentioned, ask what the next steps will be and the anticipated timings.
- Finish as you started, with a firm handshake, eye contact and a smile.
These are just some of the areas to focus on to help ensure a successful interview
If you are preparing for an interview that we have arranged for you and you would like to discuss anything, please feel free to call the consultant who is managing the assignment.