This is a question that I get asked quite frequently, and not just by my younger clients. It’s a really good one to ask because it signifies that you are taking your job hunt seriously and planning ahead. Instead of focusing on only the interview stage, I’m going to widen the scope to encompass the whole recruitment process for advertised jobs. Even seasoned professionals may find useful advice and tips here, and the process varies a lot, so let’s crack on and start from the very beginning.
Stage 1: Searching for Jobs
My two personal favourites for this are Indeed and LinkedIn. They aggregate jobs from loads of other sources, including recruitment agencies, so you’re unlikely to miss anything if you stick to just these two. In fact, most postings will be on both platforms anyway, so even using only one of them is a good way to see almost everything without getting overwhelmed.
The trick here is, don’t be too put off by the requirements. Remember, recruiters can ask for whatever they want but it doesn’t mean it’s essential in all cases. Yes, if you’re applying for a role as an airline captain, you’re going to need a pilot’s license, of course; that unspecified degree they ask for? Don’t worry about it. The point is, if you realistically believe you can do this job, and really want it, you owe it to yourself and the company to apply for it. A high-quality CV, cover letter and LinkedIn profile should see you through to the next stage.
A special note now for female readers: research shows that, generally, women only apply for jobs when they meet 100% percent of the requirements, whereas men apply when they fulfil just 60%. So, ladies, just apply and see what happens!
Make sure your CV and LinkedIn profile are as compelling and attractive as possible. It’s a numbers game, so the better they are, the more interviews you win — more success; less heartache and frustration.
Stage 2: Screening
This is usually a phone call but can be a video interview, with or without the aid of artificial intelligence. If it’s a phone call, you’re most likely speaking to someone from HR who isn’t necessarily familiar with your role or function. This means that they’re looking for answers that show you meet some fairly basic requirements. They may ask questions that have been answered by your CV or LinkedIn profile; just answer them anyway as best you can. Obviously be truthful, but you can always round answers up. You haven’t been a project manager for three-and-a-half years, but four.
A video interview, which may use AI as a screening tool, is usually a bit more in-depth, which is why companies are using them, but will still not be the main interview. With that in mind, don’t worry if you haven’t had a chance to say everything that you wanted to say, you’ll get it later.
The trick with video interviews is to get used to treating the camera as if it were a person. Practise by making videos answering common interview questions again and again. The more you do it, the more natural it will start to feel. Also, try and understand that you may be at home, but during a video interview, you are in a professional environment. Dress the part, and speak clearly and in a business-like way. Remember to make eye contact with the camera and don’t look at your phone or another screen. Practise, practise and practise, and then be yourself.
The Main Interview
Well, here we are; you’re rocking the main stage now. This is so important that I’ve written another post covering the main questions and how to tackle them. You need to practise selling yourself for this job, though, not parroting the answer to loads of questions ad nauseam. I can make you an interview god or goddess if you want to invest in learning this most valuable of life skills.
There may a second interview for you to meet other people in the company, who are usually further up the food chain. If you’ve got this far, that means you must have done pretty well; answer questions in a similar way and don’t be surprised if you get asked the same questions again. You may also like to bring out something new by showing them your strategy for getting off to a good start and making meaningful progress straightaway. Don’t overthink it and don’t use Powerpoint unless specifically asked to.
The Thank-you Note
Because you are going to write one aren’t you? It’s a short email thanking the main interviewer for their time and reiterating the parts of the interview where you really saw eye-to-eye. Think along these lines and you won’t go too far wrong:
‘Thank you so much for taking the time to see me earlier. It was great to meet you and xyz in person, and it only reinforced my desire to work at abc. I was pleased to get the opportunity to discuss how I would bring a 30% cost reduction immediately. I also look forward to discussing further your goal of increasing success in the EMEA markets; I believe I have a few strategies that might help.’
Don’t go on much longer than that. It’s a brief note. It’s a nice thing to do and it reinforces your relationship.
So, that’s another job-hunting question answered!
You might also want to check out my top ten interview tips
Ciao for now!