CV & Interview Tips

CV Tips

Alexander Associates want to offer you a few tried and tested techniques to ensure that the CV you put together maximises your job searching and gets you the job you want.

Your CV - The Purpose

There is one simple objective for any CV. It is to get your foot in the door and meet a potential new employer.

Your CV - Who Is Reading It?

Different people will scan your CV for suitability for a role. It could be a recruiter. They will want to consider your experience for any number of roles they are sourcing. It could be your next manager. They are looking to see why you might suit their vacancy. It could be HR. They are looking to see if you will fit their company culture. It could be a resourcer looking to see if you have the tick list of skills they have been asked to find. Trying to ensure that your CV is attractive to all these people is no mean feat!

Your CV - The Structure

Your CV needs to summarise your experience - technical and interpersonal. It needs to look professional. It needs to clearly show when and where you have worked. It also needs to show what you were responsible for and what you achieved. All this in just 2-3 pages! So start with the basics and follow a simple structure:

  • Name, address, contact details
  • Brief overview of what you have to offer
  • Summary of what you are looking for
  • Employment history
  • Training courses
  • Education
  • Interests

Your CV - The Content

Having built the structure, you now need to add the detail. It needs to be laid out with bold headers, indents for different content, plenty of clear space and an easily readable typeface - no colours, words in capitals or unusual fonts! Make it as easily readable as possible.

Name, Address, Contact Details

  • who you are
  • where you are based and therefore will travel from
  • how to get in touch with you

Brief Overview Of What You Have To Offer

  • technically and personally
  • a list of succinct words, skills or short sentences is ideal

Summary Of What You Are Looking For

  • content of this section may vary for different positions you apply for
  • keep your wants fairly broad so that you don't close off potential opportunities simply because you are too specific

Employment History

  • start with your most recent company and work back
  • include name of the company and a brief description of what they do
  • dates you worked there
  • job title (ensure this is a title that reflects your role in the external market - avoid using internal company specific titles)
  • responsibilities - ensure you pick out the key points only and most importantly what you achieved or contributed in each position

If you have held numerous positions over many years - just include the last 10 years and summarise anything prior to this.

Use bullet points for responsibilities and achievements rather than paragraphs of text.

Quantify and qualify everything e.g. worked on project X for 6 months in a team of 12, overseeing the work of 2 junior staff

Training Courses

  • Include any relevant technical, interpersonal and management training courses you have completed

Education

  • details of your degree - subject, grade, university and start and end date (if you have one)
  • just a headline summary of A levels and O levels (if you have them)
  • any other education you completed

Interests

  • show what you are interested in outside of work
  • include any positions of responsibility - e.g. coach/manager for the local U14 girls football team for the last 10 years

Your CV - The Application

When you send your CV for a position, always accompany it with a short explanation. Include why you are looking and your availability to start including any notice period. Offer an explanation for any anomalies in your CV such as gaps or any question that your CV might raise. For example, you might want to explain why you might be looking for a role 200 miles away from where you currently live!

Your CV - Let It Sell You

Your CV must be factually accurate. It doesn't have to be dull! Capture the attention of your future employer. Give them an immediate impression that you're the right person for the job. Engage with the reader and install confidence in your capabilities.
If you need any further help putting together a meaningful CV, please call us for advice on the number at the top of this page. We are happy to help you.

 

Interview Tips

Alexander Associates want to offer you a few tried and tested techniques to consider and ensure that when you attend an interview, you get the job.
Your interview - the purpose

Remember That Your CV Has Got You In Front Of A Potential New Employer.

For You - there are two objectives for you in an interview. The first is to impress the interviewers who are your potential new employers, so that they will want to make you an offer. The second is for you to "interview" your interviewers to see if their company and the position is right for you.

For The Interviewer - their objective is to understand what you have to offer technically and personally and whether you will contribute to the company career structure and culture. These are sometimes the difficult areas to assess. Interviewers generally do not want to intimidate interviewees! What they should do is relax you so that you give your best performance although inevitably, an interview can be stressful, particularly if you want the job!

Your Interview - The Preparation

Always prepare well for any interview. If you have prepared well, you will feel more confident and therefore likely to be less nervous. But nerves do play a part in the interview and can enhance your performance so it isn't a bad thing!

Background Research

  • Company - what they do, structure, where they are based, turnover, aspirations - all this can usually be found on their web site
  • Interviewers - find out who is interviewing you (name, job title, time in the company, area of responsibility, team etc), their background prior to joining their current company - in fact everything you can. Research them on LinkedIn. Ask your consultant for information about them.
  • Address - make sure you have the correct address! Check Google maps for the journey and over-estimate the time to travel there, take into account time of day (rush hour?).
  • What to take - copy of your CV (to refer to), passport, anything else they have asked you to take, any work of particular relevance or importance - but recognise that you only want to discuss this if specifically asked.
  • What to wear - err on the side of smart unless you are told otherwise - suit or other smart outfit is ideal.
  • Running late? Call the company or your consultant to give them an estimated arrival time, but don't panic - it happens!
  • Prepare some questions - you must think about some of the things that are important to you to know about a future employer, so make sure you have a list of these written down so that if they are not covered by the interviewer, then you can raise them.
  • Prepare some answers - CBI is Competency Based Interviewing. Interviewers will ask you questions that require you to provide specific evidence that you have a particular experience or skill. List the competencies you think the job needs e.g. adaptability, compliance, team work, decisiveness, communication, influencing, delegation, leadership, tenacity etc. There are many more possible competency combinations. Prepare at least 1 example of where you have demonstrated each competency. Practice your answers.

Your Interview - On The Day

  • Arrive in plenty of time
  • Greet
  • Strong handshake with all the interviewers
  • Smile

Engage

  • Look alert, enthusiastic and interested. Use a positive body posture.
  • Make constant eye contact with all the interviewers; focus on the one that asked each question.
  • Answer each question clearly and succinctly. Don't ramble.
  • If you are not sure that you have answered a question, ask.
  • Speak honestly - interviewers can tell if you are not!

Your interview - The Likely Structure

The interview is likely to take around 1-2 hours and follow a structure not necessarily in this order. You should expect to talk for about 75-80% of the time.

  • Introductions
  • Explanation of the interview process
  • Background to the company
  • Questions about your experience
  • Current role
  • Previous role
  • Personal strengths & weaknesses
  • Why you are looking
  • What you are looking for
  • Career aspirations
  • Practicalities - location, availability etc

Information About The Role, Structure, Highlights, Culture, Why They Are Looking Etc

  • Opportunity for you to ask questions
  • What happens next
  • Thank you's

Your Interview - The Questions

There are 4 main types of questions you may be asked:

  • Open
  • Encouraging you to talk
  • Closed
  • Yes/No or specific answers e.g. 10 years
  • Probing
  • Exploring in depth a specific area of your skill set
  • Situational/Competency
  • Describing an experience you have enabling you to demonstrate an experience.

Your Interview - Making A Great Impression

Try and relax and be yourself. Really show interest in the company, the role, the interviewers. Take some control e.g. ask if you have answered a question to their satisfaction or ask if you need to give them more information. Turn your weaknesses into strengths and show how you are overcoming them. If you find yourself digging a verbal "hole" for yourself, make light and add some humour. Close the interview with affirmation that you really want the role and why.
Your interview - some don'ts!

  • Be unprepared
  • Too talkative & long-winded
  • Opinionated/biased or argue
  • Ensure you respond to their body language - if they are looking bored, finish your answer quickly

Let your consultant manage the salary/rate discussions on your behalf.

Your Interview - The Follow-Up
Contact your consultant as soon as you finish the interview to let them know how it went - the good and the not so good. There is nothing wrong with a courtesy email to the interviewer/s thanking them and confirming your interest in the role.

 

If you need any further help preparing for your interview, please call us for advice. We can be contacted on the number at the top of this page. We are very happy to help you.

 

Contact us

01959 562572
recruit@alexander-assoc.co.uk

4 The Old Yard
Rectory Lane
Brasted
Westerham ,Kent
TN16 1JP

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