Managing your interview time - emphasis on managing!

Managing your interview time - emphasis on managing!

by Rob Ridout

Interviews article by Rob Ridout CV writer

I get it! You don’t like interviews. Going to an interview can be almost like going on a blind date. Not quite sure what to expect and always in need of a plan B just in case the wheels come off - which it usually does. But most of us will go through our interviews with what we think is a perfect plan. However, once we are face to face with the interviewer, the gremlins start to emerge. 

So lets highlight in my mind one of the most critical aspects of your interview - managing your time. When your recruiter or  HR manager arrange your interview, you will be allocated a time frame. This interview time is generally between 40 - 60 minutes depending on the level of the role. You may also get information about your interviewer as well as a specification. Although these other aspects are important, I want to focus just on managing your time. 

Effectively your CV will be divided into three time zones. The introduction, The actual interview and your questions. 

If you consider that your interview will say 40 minutes you an actual time frame for questions relating to the actual job may only be 25 minutes. Because you have to consider the other two time zones. So that is the time frame you will need to practice for. 

Follow you CV script 

For a great article on the purpose of your CV. 

Most people do not realise that their CV is their story script. Now is the time that your reworked CV will assist. If your CV has been adequately written your job content should be more focused on your most recent roles, not the oldest. Even though this seems very obvious you will need to pace your interview questions according to your most recent achievements. It is vital that your CV contains enough information to assist the interviewer ask questions that are more appropriate. You should not assume that your interviewer will manage his/her time properly so you may need to guide the interviewer through their own interview - seriously…

Achievements and commercial relevance 

Right so now you are getting questions from all sides and trying to speak about the most important topics first. Most interviewers will concentrate on making sure that your actual career information is correct and then try to gauge if you would be a good hire based on your achievements. So that's really the secret right there. You want to make sure that your questions are a balance between those two critical items in favor of achievements. Unfortunately, some interviewers become obsessed with the background checking, but that's fine just goes with it, chances are you will get to tell your achievements story at the next interview. Obviously making sure that your career background is communicated is essential but communicating your accomplishments is the thing that gets you to the next round. The critical aspect of delivering your achievements is not to brag - except if you rein sales of course. Keep your accomplishments to a simple recipe of what was the problem/goal; how did you solve/achieve the problem/goal and what was the actual achievement or outcome of the project/goal. Now if you are brilliant, which I am sure you are you can add value - commercial relevance. This is what the net effect was of you achieving your goal on the actual business.But this can be a tricky thing to answer without sounding like you are trying to be the CEO. Practice this!

Remember that achievement can include projects as well just make sure you tell the interviewer what the outcome of the project was.

Interview time killers

By far the most problematic time killer is the famous - reason for leaving. If not appropriately answered this could sink your boat in dramatic fashion. You will always get asked this question as the interviewer always wants to ensure that you left your previous role for a reasonable reason and that you maintain some common decency with previous employers.(not always the case and not broadly your fault) Really what it comes down to its that you want to spend as little time as possible on this topic and not get drawn into a cross-examination. So practice your answer and it keeps it very short as not to invite a massive debate. The second time killer is over answering a question. Be careful to keep to the point and finish your point. Many candidates do not answer the question. Balance the length of your answer to the story in your script so don’t talk for ten minutes on how you achieved a distinction in matric when asked this question. Just say yes and what subjects. 

The time factor in your interview is critical and will determine the success or failure of your interview. One subject I have not covered here is competency based interviews, but this is a much more significant topic for another article. Happy hunting. 

Rob assists his clients as a career coaching and as CV/Resume writer. His business CVforLife based in Johannesburg and offers career coaching services and career counseling as well as CV and resume writing services. 

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