Rob Ridout has over 25 years experience as a headhunter. In 2008 he published his book CVforLIfe - the ultimate career advice book. His career coaching business has flourished and now offers Career coaching,
Career Counselling and CV and resume writing services. He works with universities such as GIBS and Monash to offer some of the highest caliber career coaching.
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Your Career Story - The cornerstone of a good interview strategy
I am constantly asked questions about the interview and its many variations and complexities. This all too common topic has become a major fear factor for most candidates moving through the recruitment process. Actually, the interview is simply one party trying to understand if the other party can do the job and/or has the potential to do the job and of course, is telling the truth. Oversimplification, I know.
In the defence of the interviewer, this screening process is a critical part of ensuring that an incorrect candidate is not hired. The interviewer often or not resorts to a form of an interview that assimilates interrogation.
The candidate, however, moves into the interview process blissfully unaware of the interrogation that is about to follow and many times is not well informed of the key issues around company corporate culture and hidden key details that have not been included in the specification, such as why the previous candidate left.
When I coach my clients I place a massive emphasis on how to tell the interviewer your career story.
Your CV is a critical part of the process here and I continuously advocate that this all-important document needs to be your “script” and should read that way. Once you have mastered your CV story candidates can focus rather on answering difficult interview questions without fumbling around with basic career details.
Speak about the most recent information
We are all very proud of our achievements at school and our first job. However, the interviewer wants to understand what we have achieved most recently. The ten-year rule here is important. Most interviewers will concentrate on your roles ten years after your current role, so when you talk about your background make sure you provide information about the most recent roles.
Remember the interview time limit
You can assume that most interviews will last between 30 to 40 minutes. (the longer the better actually). You will only be given about 60% of that time to answer questions and speak about yourself. This is actually not a lot of time so when you practice your story work according to this time-frame. Also remember that when the interviewer starts speaking about their company, often at the end of the interviewer let the speak. Often this could indicate a good interview result.
Selling vs screening
The initial interview will always centre around screening. So you should be ready for lots of questions. Practice your potential responses beforehand. This is not the time to launch into a full sales pitch about yourself. Keep your answers to the point and provide practical examples of your achievements.
The selling part of your journey will happen later. Try also establish what the recruiter or hiring manager is asking you, as many try to ask questions with a predetermined response, almost as if they are working from their own script - which they are! If you are unsure rather ask for clarification rather than ask the question incorrectly.
Let your story flow
There is nothing worse for the interviewer than a candidate stumbling through their career history with little or no story especially with poor move motivators. This creates a very dubious picture of your background and then provides the interviewer with an opportunity to hammer you with questions on potential problems. The most common of these stumbling blocks is the very famous question - “so why did you leave”? Keep this answer simple with no opportunities for the other party to raise questions.
These are just a few of my hints regards creating a story, in future articles I will cover the important topic of asking questions in an interview and the interview participants.
So what is the difference, you ask. Actually, it is simple. The resume is a one or two pager and the detailed CV is the old school four to six pager. Yes, six pages. So that was an easy answer but when to use what document is a slightly more complicated issue. But of course not impossible to understand. Here are some of my guidelines. When applying for any role read the advertisement carefully. Most recruiters and especially HR managers will request either a Resume or Detail CV. As with most advertised roles, there is usually an overwhelming response from applicants; the HR manager will ask for a resume rather than a Detail CV as to ensure that they spend less time screening and more time shortlisting. Remembering again that most HR practitioners loath recruitment and try around spending to much time on this very mundane task. “Loading” your resume When applying for a role most candidates just don’t seem to t…
The best cover letter I ever received and I read a lot of cover letters, was from a PA who wrote a brief article on herself in the format of a newspaper article. You just had to read it and had to meet this person. I’m not a big fan of the cover letter but a good cover letter such as this one can be a real eye-catcher. Cover letters are always going to be problematic, too many people try using the cover letter to say what they should actually say in the interview. And it seldom works. Let’s first look at the purpose of the cover letter. This brief and I emphasis brief form of introduction should cover who you are and why you are seeking employment. The entire role of the cover letter is to invite the reader to explore your CV further. Almost like a good marketing bi-line attached to a brand that gently encourages the tired eyes of the HR manager to want to explore further. The challenge that you have when designing your cover letter is most certainly the huge amount of CV’s that the r…