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CV Advice & Interview Technique
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s Tips on CV Preparation and Interview Technique:
Think about your skills, competencies, qualifications and experience. What are your unique selling points and strengths? Think in terms of what you have achieved. If you are replying to a specific job advertisement, review what key words and tasks were used in the advertisement. Which of these words applies to you? Use these words in your CV.
Remember that you want your CV to be read and responded to. Include enough information to stimulate interest, but not so much that you bore the reader. If you provide small, digestible pieces of information you stand a better chance of having your CV read. Three pages maximum is preferred. Every word must contribute to the overall message – so keep it brief and ensure that the content is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Ensure that your CV is well structured and well laid out; this gives the impression that you think logically and makes it easier to review. Remember – a CV that is hard to read is often put aside and forgotten. When writing the CV, remember that self-opinion is best avoided. Aim to include factual information or objective evidence and remember to focus on the benefits of your achievements.
Pay close attention to reply instructions in advertisements (e.g. spelling of contact’s name). Always have someone else on hand to check your spelling and grammar. Nothing can ruin your chances of getting a job faster than easily preventable mistakes. Avoid coloured paper and fancy fonts, if you plan to fax or e-mail your CV, you’ll get a much better result with clean fonts and a simple lay-out.
The First Page
This should contain your personal details, your home address and contact details located right at the top, followed by a brief summary of educational credentials and qualifications, including any professional qualifications or memberships. An overview statement could be included covering your strengths in the relevant area, skills and experience, computer packages used, and the type of position sought.
Here you should highlight your employment history. Present this in reverse chronological order. If you have only worked for one company, break it down with an entry for each position or project dealt with. For each position held, briefly describe responsibilities and work undertaken.
For your current and recent positions, you may want to have several bulleted items under the job that list your most significant experiences or achievements.
List your hobbies and interests in no more than three lines.
Keep your CV up to date. Using an out of date CV looks sloppy and may exclude you from consideration.
Think about your skills, qualifications and experience and ensure that you can talk confidently about what is written on your CV. Particularly ensure that you can talk about those skills that are relevant and valuable to the position you are going for.
Prepare some questions to ask at the interview. At the first interview it would be wise to restrict your questions to details of the job and the organisation. Salary and benefit discussions are best left until a second interview or when a job offer is made.
Do Your Homework
Find out as much as possible about the company prior to the interview. A good starting point is to look up their website and find out about the products and services they offer, the location of the office/s, and the number of employees.
Dress code and appearance
Smart business dress is a must. Ensure you are well groomed with tidy hair, clean shoes and clothing. Do not wear too much perfume or aftershave and keep make-up, jewellery and nail polish simple.
Travel and timing
Plan your journey beforehand to ensure you arrive a few minutes early. Allow for possible travel delays. Just in case of a major hold up, make sure you have your contact’s telephone number so that you can call if you suspect you will be late.
What to expect
Interviews come in many forms – panel interviews, one to one interviews, group interviews and each interviewer will have their own personal style. Some interviewers will fire questions at you while others will start off with an open question such as “tell me about yourself” leaving you to do most of the talking. The majority of interviewers will be somewhere between the two. Be prepared for any style of interview.
- Make sure your interviewer knows the benefits of employing you. It is important to sell yourself by telling the interviewer details of your relevant skills and experience that you have, to contribute to the organisation
- Try not to monopolise the meeting – let your interviewer talk
- Find out what the key parts of the candidate specification are so you can show how you meet them
- Don’t give negative information or bad news if you are not asked for it, and don’t criticise previous employers or jobs. The key is to turn negative information into positive information.
- You may be asked to take a test before the interview, depending on the type of organisation. These might consist of psychometric or aptitude tests.
The next steps
Agree exactly what the next steps will be, such as who will contact you to let you know if you have been successful and by when. You should also find out whether there will be second interviews and who will conduct them. If you are really interested in the position make sure you tell the interviewer.
- Practice a strong positive handshake and plan your greeting
- Remember to smile and be polite to all the staff you meet
- Unless you feel particularly comfortable, do not accept tea or coffee at the interview as it can get in the way
- If you are taking papers to the interview, carry them in a suitable case or folder
Accounts Trainee - Liverpool