CV & Interview Tips

Writing a CV

A CV is simply a tool to get you an interview and not a method of winning you that new position. It should be brief, concise, clearly laid out and specifically targeted for the position you are applying to. Important basic information such as name, address, contact details, qualifications and work history should make up the main part of every CV with a more detailed explanation being reserved for interview.

Simple CV tips to follow are:

Tailor each CV for each individual position, a generic CV is useful for introduction to recruitment agencies but a job application CV should be written every time.

A CV should not be longer than three pages, with two the norm. Most employers initially study a CV for less than 10 seconds so relevant information must be digested within this time.

Begin each CV with personal and contact details. Include date of birth and marital status (employers like to know applicants have stable relationships away from work) and include as many ways to contact you as possible (telephone, mobile and e-mails are important).

Education details should be specific to the industry. Describe school qualifications in a concise form and not by subject or grade whereas professional and vocational qualifications should be in more detail, especially if you have limited professional work experience.

Employment details should be in reverse chronological order with the most information concerning present and most recent positions. Previous positions especially relevant to the current application should be highlighted.

Don’t confuse the employer. If previous positions have specific responsibilities, which are not relevant to the current application, leave them out, especially if they were not typical for the industry.

It is ok to leave gaps in Employment History especially if it was spent travelling – travel can be a valuable experience although time spent watching Richard and Judy is more frowned upon.

Include any I.T. skills you may have and don’t be afraid to include hobbies at the end. Employers prefer people to have a life away from work and these are often good conversational points especially if the interest is mutual.

Use a good quality white A4 paper, and delivery it within an A4 envelope – folded CVs are more difficult to read and store. Make sure it arrives on time and always include a covering letter written specifically to the employer emphasising your strengths for the position concerned.

Importantly, never lie on a CV and only include information you are happy to talk about during an interview.

Interview Techniques

If you have been selected for an interview, you are half way there. If an employer deems you suitable enough to take up his / her valuable time, they obviously consider you a real possibility for the role. If you prepare yourself correctly for the interview, your chances of succeeding will be greatly improved.

Simple tips are as follows:

Do some research about the company concerned. Web sites are commonplace these days, although a trip to the research library can also help. Contact the company in advance to gain company literature or a brochure. Ask friends or colleagues if they have any knowledge of the company and read the trade press. Concern yourself with recent company developments and look for common ground with your own experiences.

Ensure that you are familiar with the interview location prior to the day. It is often recommended to do the journey on a previous day and try to organise parking in advance if needed.

It is not acceptable to arrive for an interview fashionably late. Try to arrive 10 minutes early and try not to appear rushed when you arrive. Make sure you know who you are meeting and when. Don’t smoke prior to an interview and ensure mobile phones are switched off.

Try to dress according to the position, however a good clean suit and tie (for men) is always acceptable. If you wear a tie, make it a conservative one (without Mickey Mouse) and ensure shoes are clean and polished and that you have combed your hair.

Try to ensure you have some questions prepared for the interviewer. They may concern working practices or future projects. Interviews should be a two-way process and it pays to have two or three relevant questions prepared. Don’t try to be too clever though, as you may not be prepared for the answers!

Ensure you are familiar with your CV and take one with you. Interviewers may only have glanced at your CV for a few moments and may require you to elaborate on certain areas. Make sure you are happy talking about yourself and that all information on the CV can actually be substantiated.

When the interviewer(s) asks questions, listen! Be concise with the answers and always be clear and relevant – don’t waffle and don’t tell lies. Try to be positive and indicate how they can use your experiences. Be professional, warm and enthusiastic and always focus on your suitability for the position.

Shake the interviewers’ hand on leaving and thank them for there time. Follow up the interview with a letter telling them you enjoyed the interview and that you are looking forward to hearing from them.

Try not to torment yourself over how well you did, simply relax and wait for news.

Best wishes and good luck!

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