Monthly Archives: October 2015

Interview mistakes that could cost you the job

Article by Belinda Fuller

The process of interviewing candidates has changed significantly in recent years. Where previously, you could have potentially predicted the types of questions you’d be asked and prepared by learning some great responses, this is no longer the case. Make these mistakes and it could cost you the job.

Most people would agree they get nervous before a job interview – in fact many would say that there is nothing more nerve racking than job interviews. Recruiters don’t generally go out of their way to make candidates feel uncomfortable; however creating a tough interview experience can challenge candidates to think and perform under pressure. Despite this, many job seekers make it worse by not properly preparing. Many of the following common interview mistakes can be avoided:

1.  Not knowing much about the company: Being asked what you know about the company should be one of the easiest questions in an interview – if you’ve done your research. Always review the company website, LinkedIn, Facebook and other Social Media pages. Use or review the company’s products if appropriate. Do a ‘google’ search so you can review media that is not controlled by the company. This could highlight issues or situations the company is currently involved in. Try to also gain an understanding of the company culture and how that matches your own values – workplace culture is very important in terms of the interview and this is one area the interviewer may focus their attention on to ensure you provide a good fit for the company.

2.  Not being confident with your own information: It’s amazing how many people don’t recall employment dates or what they did in previous roles. Review your resume and make sure you have a good recollection of your experience, the timeline of roles, skills you’ve developed and successes in each role. It isn’t acceptable to say “it was so long ago, I can’t really recall”. Put together a list of accomplishments in each role that you can quickly and confidently discuss. Don’t just focus on the roles that interest you or that you feel are the best fit. Be prepared to discuss any part of your background if pinpointed by the recruiter. Taking time to review your history and create a quick list will refresh your memory and help prepare you to discuss experiences and accomplishments that you may have otherwise forgotten in an interview situation.

3.  Turning weaknesses into positives: If you’re asked about your weaknesses – resist the temptation to say “I’m a perfectionist”, “I work too hard” or something equally as clichéd. A better way to approach this question is to think seriously about a weak point or something you have previously struggled with and what you’re doing to improve it or enhance your skills in that area. Interviewers are not really trying to trip you up with this question – they just want to make sure you’re a good fit for the role.

4.  Not asking questions: At some point during most interviews, you will be asked if you have any questions. Having none can make you appear uninterested and unprepared. Before the interview, put together a list of relevant questions. It’s acceptable to take some notes in with you to refer to if you think you may forget. Ideas for your questions could include areas of the role you’d like to know more about, the current or previous person in the role and their career, the interviewer’s career, how long they’ve been with the company, what they like about working for the company, a current situation with the company or market, what the recruiter sees as the biggest challenge in the role etc.

5.  Being negative and/or switching off: Make the effort to show you are positive and enthusiastic by remaining attentive and upbeat – don’t come across as bored or uninterested. Concentrate on the interviewer and the questions they are asking. You only get one chance to impress, so make it count. If you find yourself becoming distracted, make a conscious effort to re-engage with the interviewer. Maintain eye contact, lean forward in your chair and sit up straight – this takes more effort and concentration and helps you to remain alert. Also remember that no matter how much you disliked your last job, boss or colleagues, this is not the time or place to discuss it. You should never criticise or undermine a past supervisor or company as the recruiter may get the impression that you’d be difficult to work with.

Securing an interview these days can be tough, so make sure you fully prepare for it. The bottom line is that you don’t get a second chance to impress at an interview. Recruiters use the interview to test candidates’ thinking and performance under pressure because people who can think quickly in business are an asset. If you want to succeed in an interview, preparation is key – it will help you feel more confident and will show in your performance.

If you would like assistance from an Interview Coach with preparing for a job interview, to overcome your nerves, build confidence and increase your success rate, please see our Interview Coaching and Training service.

Want the job? Audit your online profile

Article by Belinda Fuller

iStock_000018975885_SmallIn a recent report on the current state of hiring in Australia, 9 out of 10 Australian hiring managers felt the need to look beyond the active applicants to fill a role. That means it’s never been more important to make sure your online presence brands you for the job you’d like to achieve.

While your active presentation of yourself is important to secure your dream job, recruiters can now explore your background more proactively through social media, which really has changed the recruitment world forever.

There are two sides to the story though – while it is important to have a clean profile on social media, and ensure your privacy settings remain tight, a positive online footprint can be just as important in securing you your dream role. We’ve spoken before about the importance of thinking about yourself as a brand and maintaining consistency with your message throughout all your job search tools. This includes your Resume, social media profiles and other online content. A negative and unappealing presence can result in you missing out, even if you’re a great candidate in all other areas.

By exploring a person’s online activity, recruiters can determine if the face you put forward in your application is a representation of your true self. Facebook, Twitter, personal blogs and other social media can be easily accessed by recruiters and usually don’t lie. If you are expressing strong opinions or comments and sharing controversial photos or topics, this could ruin your chances of securing your dream role. For example, using social media to ‘voice’ negative feelings over situations at work, or bragging and sharing photos about questionable things you get up to at work, or worse still posting nasty comments about bosses and co-workers is a definite no no.

Perhaps more importantly though, recruiters are using social media to find the positives – searching for cultural fit through positive aspects of your life and activities. I’ve heard many stories of recruiters having two or even three equal candidates but narrowing it down to the ideal candidate based on a final review of their social media profiles. Leverage your social media pages to improve your ‘online footprint’ and enhance your prospects through improved social responsibility. Take out photos or comments that may be offensive or suggestive to others. Think about what is going to make you stand out from the crowd and focus your content on positive hobbies and interests. Make sure you include any additional interests, volunteer work or charities you support. Don’t be afraid to use positive statements as part of your social media, since it encourages yourself and others.

Social media cuts both ways. Most companies have websites, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles. Take some time to research the companies you are hoping to work for. Immerse yourself in their culture by following them on social media – it’s a great way to get to know the company before you get to the interview stage. You can also research current employees on LinkedIn to gain a better understanding of their backgrounds and skillsets.

Overall, it’s important to ensure your online footprint reflects the best version of you. Tidy up photos and content, and adjust privacy settings if need be. If you know someone who recruits staff, ask them to look over your social media profiles and give you feedback.

If you would like assistance auditing your online profile – perhaps developing a professional, keyword optimised LinkedIn profile that highlights your strengths and achievements and sets you apart from your competitors, please see our LinkedIn Profile Writing service or check out our Job Search Coaching Service.

Where to start with an outdated resume?

Article by Belinda Fuller

The information in your Resume should be short, sharp and compelling to effectively sell you and your unique skill set as a viable candidate for the roles you are applying for. If you don’t keep up to date records, it can be a major chore to update it. So where is the best place to start?

We often get asked this question, especially by people who’ve never had to officially ‘apply’ for a role before, by people who’ve been in the same role for many years, or by those who’ve been out of the workforce for some time. While each situation requires a slightly different approach – the basics remain the same. A Resume is like a sales proposal on YOU! It’s essential that you highlight your key skills, qualifications and experience in a way that demonstrates value to a potential employer. It should be packed full of easy to read facts about you – but they should focus on achievements and be written in a way that demonstrates how they helped your previous employer.

So where should you start with outdated content?

1.  Get clear on what you want: your first step should always be researching the types of roles you’d like to achieve. Having a clear idea of the type of role you’d like to secure will provide you with a great starting point for the types of skills and experience you need to demonstrate. You can then focus your new Resume content on those parts of your past that are most important.

2.  Understand your value: recognise the accomplishments you have made and the value you have added, then learn how to articulate that in a way that appeals to potential recruiters. Spending time on Step 1 will help you to do this. If you have a good understanding of the areas you need to excel in to achieve the type of role you’re looking for, this process will be easier. Once you understand your value, develop a career summary that provides the recruiter with a quick overview of you – an elevator pitch if you like. It’s a preview of your resume written to entice them further. It should be the first thing they see, no longer than two paragraphs – and include a mixture of your professional success, academic/industry training, together with any relevant personal attributes.

3.  Focus on achievements: Brainstorm where you have achieved success previously. It’s a good idea to include at least two or three achievements for each of your previous roles – more if you can. Tangible achievements are first priority, but if you honestly can’t think of anything you can quantify then think about projects you’ve contributed to, collaboration with colleagues, extra responsibilities taken on, new processes you initiated, customer accolades received or major targets exceeded. Think about things you did in previous roles that made you proud or situations where you went above and beyond – chances are, recruiters will consider these achievements.

4.  Plug gaps – recruiters don’t like mysteries so if you have been out of the workforce it is preferable to explain the gap rather than leave it blank. Think about your work gaps and what you did during that time. Volunteer work, charity work, education, training and professional development should all be included to show you weren’t idle during that time.

A well written Resume will help you secure the all-important interview. But you need to understand your value and what’s important to your potential employer before you can do that. For more ideas on the specific content to include or how to write a Resume, visit the Resume section of our Career Advice Blog.

Are you interested in getting assistance from a Professional Resume Writer to prepare a winning Resume for your next job application? If so, please see our Resume Writing Services and Job Search Coaching Services.