by Caroline Gleeson, co-founder & CEO, Occupop
Throughout my career I have interviewed many candidates who appeared highly competent and qualified on paper, but who came across very differently in the interview, and ultimately lost out on the opportunity over another candidate. There’s nothing more frustrating than interviewing a candidate who doesn’t know who you are or what job they are interviewing for. This is unfortunately something that recruiters come across time and time again. With the current rise in unemployment and redundancies, paired with a soaring demand for jobs, it is vital to practice your interview skills in order to make a strong first impression when applying for jobs in 2021.
Know your CV inside out
The first step to making a great impression in a job interview is to be able to answer any question related to your CV. You have to remember that apart from a LinkedIn profile, your CV is often the only impression that a recruiter is likely to have of you, so it’s vital to have it memorised like the back of your hand. You are likely to be asked to expand on your previous job experiences, educational background, skills and your interests, so my advice is to have a few extra pieces of information that you can delve into on each of the points on your CV. Make sure that these points are informative and positive, reflecting what you learned from your experiences and how you can bring this knowledge forward with you in the role that you are interviewing for. A common mistake I see is that applicants will sometimes exaggerate their skills in the skill section of their CV, which means that when asked to expand on their knowledge in that particular area, they are unable to provide sufficient information. Always expect that every inch of your CV will be thoroughly examined, and that you will be asked to go into detail about everything. So before you write that you are skilled in Photoshop, or that you are fluent in Spanish, make sure that you are!
Research the company
This may seem like an obvious one, but you would be surprised how many candidates forget to research the company they are applying to work for. A future employer wants to be sure that you applied for a position at their company because you are interested in their work, understand their business and believe in their product or service. Therefore you should take the time to visit the company website and familiarise yourself with the brand and the business proposition. You should have a good understanding of their products, key sectors, target customers and any other relevant information that you can discover online to show you are genuinely interested in working there. Another tip is to research the company founders and CEO, to see what the background of the company is, why the company was founded and how far it has come. Interviewers are especially interested in finding out if you are up to date on the company news. You can usually find news on the company website, however Google News can also be very helpful in informing you if the company has made any announcements or launched a new product recently. Having up-to-date news on the company shows the interviewer that you care about the business and make an effort to keep informed about it.
Highlight your skills
Interviewers are going to want you to sell your hard and soft skills, the latter being a little more challenging. Hard skills include technical skills, computer skills and analytical skills which can be assessed through objective tests. Soft skills tend to be traits that make you a good employee, such as communication skills, teamwork skills and leadership skills. These are assessed through competency based questions which typically involve you giving an example. To prepare for competency based questions create a list of core competencies relevant to the job you are interviewing for and plan an example relative to that competency from your work or personal experience. Given the current pandemic, some core competencies relevant to today’s market would include adaptability, resilience and determination. Employers in 2021 need to be certain that new employees are able to adapt to an ever changing remote work environment, that they can work independently and effectively, and that they are capable of motivating themselves and others no matter how circumstances change. Be able to demonstrate that you are adaptable, resilient and determined by giving the interviewer examples of stressful situations that you have had to overcome, times when giving up would have been easier but you kept yourself afloat and managed to change your perspective on a situation. Displaying your strong-mindedness and reliability is the key to setting yourself apart from other qualified candidates