Job Seekers

Prepare to Smash Your Job Interview

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Anthony McCormack, founding consultant, managing director and entrepreneur behind Macstaff with offices in Bristol and Abergavenny, United Kingdom. Macstaff is a high impact recruitment consultancy majoring on right-fit permanent placements in construction, property, manufacturing and engineering sectors in UK & Internationally. Macstaff joined NPAworldwide in 2019. Anthony McCormack takes you through several helpful and practical hints to give you the very best chance of being successful at an upcoming job interview. And some are more obvious than you think. This post originally appeared here.

So you are in an active job search and have secured yourself an interview.

Now this is where the ‘rubber hits the road’!

Personally, I think reliance on a job interview to determine the best candidate for a position is a broken system – but we will save this topic for another blog.

Nonetheless, the interview is how 90% of hiring decisions will be made. So be prepared to sell yourself. How you do that will influence the likelihood of an offer and the better the interview, the better the offer potentially!

So my first point will state the blindingly obvious. The best advice on preparation is… to actually prepare!

Many people spend an inordinate amount of time tinkering with the CV, browsing job postings and crafting the perfect cover letter – but little or no time properly preparing for individual interviews.

If you’re reading this, it looks like you are putting in some groundwork so give yourself a pat on the back, you’re heading in the right direction.

From a mental preparation point of view, I suggest making sure that you are ‘in it to win it.’ Don’t go to an interview to ‘check them out’ or to ‘see what they have to say.’ Go to an interview with the intention of winning a great job offer. If you get offered and choose not to accept, that’s empowering and your call to make.

I am always sad when someone is ill-prepared for an interview, goes in lukewarm or even suspicious about the opportunity, and realises during the appointment that the role is a dream job for them. It’s typically too late to inject passion to the interview and reverse the first impression formed by the interviewer that you only came to ‘kick some tyres.’

Logistics

Logistics wise. Make sure you plan your journey and allow enough time. That’s enough time to get to the postcode according to Google maps or SatNav but also to park and sign in. I also suggest allowing enough time for heavy traffic, road closures, getting lost and spilling coffee down yourself! As sod’s law says, it’s going to happen.

You want to allow enough time to be on time but also to be in the right frame of mind. Five minutes decompressing from the journey and visualising a successful interview will pay dividends. Lastly, I don’t want to pile on extra pressure, but I’ve pretty much never seen someone turn up late to an interview and go on to secure the job.

Take a CV with you

Take a fresh copy of your CV and a separate reference sheet so you are ready to hand over either or both. You likely won’t need them but it looks organised and allows you to use them as a point of reference. Also, in the eventuality that they have lost the CV or can’t print it, your job interview still goes smoothly ahead.

Dress to impress

It’s an interview cliché to be sharp-suited, clean pressed shirt and shiny shoes. However, I think old-school rules still apply here. As you all know, first impressions are strong, difficult to change and are strongly based around visual aspects.

How you present is viewed as a reflection (rightly or wrongly) of how seriously you are taking the application and how much respect you are giving the appointment.

I would say that while you can mess up by under-dressing for an interview, you can never really fail by over-dressing. Many people have a concern that they don’t want to feel over-dressed when they attend an interview at a less formal office environment. So feel free to try and mirror their culture to an extent. I must point out though that their current employees are not attending an interview and you are!

Expectations are different so it really doesn’t matter if you are the only person in a suit. It’s kind of like the interviewer can swear in the interview and they won’t notice or remember, if you do, it’s going to stand out and reflect badly.

Paint a picture of a Win-Win

Candidates are going to want to satisfy themselves that they are going to win the job in question, with respect to salary, benefits, challenge, interest, career potential and so on before accepting an offer. Clients are going to want to satisfy themselves that they are going to win by hiring the candidate in question in respect to skills, experience, personality, attitude and future potential before making an offer.

What is less obvious is the opposite side of these points. Candidates should want to establish that the company will win by hiring them, meaning they add value, it is a good fit and chances are good it will work out in short and long term.

Clients should want to establish that the candidate will win meaning that they get to apply their skills in a meaningful way, enjoy the work and ultimately stick around.

In my experience, in the stressful set-up of an interview, most people overlook ‘part 2’ of the win-win. So ensure everything you say and do in the selection process points towards a conclusion of strong mutual benefit.

On a related note, be aware of how you are viewed outside of the interview itself, like while booking the interview, when you ring beforehand and how you interact with the receptionist. Even when you are not being officially assessed, you are still being assessed. I would never want to hire someone that was snotty to my receptionist, for example.

Prepare by researching the company

This is so you can talk intelligently about the organisation, their products and projects. Or at least be able to answer the obvious question of why are you interested in XYZ when asked. You can look for published information from their website, news sources or from employer evaluation sites such as Glassdoor to get the ‘inside track’. Also, try and make sure you know the job specification and potentially the person specification for the role too.

Prepare lots of questions

There will typically be an opportunity to ask questions during an interview. Hopefully throughout, allowing a good two-way street of communication, or otherwise towards the end. This is an opportunity for you to take.

The quality of your questions can differentiate you from an otherwise similar candidate. Questions that show you have done your research are great, and in general open questions that demonstrate your understanding or prove your interest going to foster a positive response and often further discussion.

Questions which can be seen as suspicious, negative or are just hard to answer will make for a negative atmosphere which ends up reflecting badly.

For example, try not to ask: “What happened to the last person in this role?” or “What’s your sick days allocation?” or “What’s the company’s financial position like?”

Believe me, I have heard them asked before.

Take notes

There is some debate on this topic but I think it is okay to take some notes if you wish to capture key information for your future reference. Again, it can help demonstrate organisation and professionalism. Do ask permission and don’t overdo it as your note-taking can be off-putting to the interviewer, and of course, reduce eye contact which is important for building rapport.

Interview technique

This is a subject in itself and there is all kinds of advice to impart here. I’ll keep it simple and just cover two of them – confidence and enthusiasm.

If you think about it, the hiring company needs to work out two things: 1) Can you do the job (better than other candidates). 2) Do you want the job (and will you accept it).

Therefore you convince them you can do the job by feeling, showing and instilling them with confidence in your capabilities. You convince them that you want the job by demonstrating your enthusiasm for the job, company, product and projects in question.

Confidence

This will be maximised by being prepared (as above) by knowing your CV, the job-spec and how they relate. Prepare specific examples you plan to leverage and questions you would like to ask. Be conscious of using positive body language and voice projection. Practice the power of belief.

Enthusiasm

Prepare all the valid personal reasons why this job is a great match for you in order to demonstrate an authentic win-win. Why are you passionate about the industry, what do you like about the company, what attracts you to the job, are the location and salary going to satisfy you long term. Enthusiasm isn’t all about being ‘bubbly’ if that isn’t your style but demonstrating your appetite for the job somehow is important.

Be specific

The need to be specific will apply to many areas of the interview but particularly in terms of duties, responsibilities and achievements. Being specific and where appropriate using quantifiable examples moves you from making general claims about your suitability to giving evidence that you are the best candidate.

Be succinct

It’s a fine balance. You are going to want to answer questions fully, to score maximum points (either in the interviewer’s mind or often literally if you are being graded). However, you are also going to want to be succinct. The interviewer only has a certain amount of time and if they don’t get to ask all the questions then you certainly don’t get to score all the points. It’s easy with pressure and nerves to waffle on or go off on an irrelevant tangent. Much better to take a breath, get composure and then give a killer answer, rather than jumping in without thinking.

Ask for the job

I don’t think this is common interview advice but put in the right way, I think it is positive and powerful. This is typically for the end in respect to closing statements, and could be along the lines of: “On the basis of this conversation, I am even more excited about the job than when I applied. I would love to assume the role and look forward to hearing back.” This removes any doubt that you would be prepared to accept (offer dependent) and makes you a safer bet. Companies, like potential dates, hate being turned down and would prefer to ask someone who they know will likely say yes!

Any objections?

Again, I don’t think this a common area of interview advice, however, put in the right way I think this question can be a good strategic, assertive move. It again would come near to the end and would go something like: “I am very confident that I can meet all the requirements of the role, so do you have any questions or concerns?” If you are going to ask this, make sure you are ready to answer, address and perceived issues and hopefully overcome them.

So good luck with your current and future interviews. Expect success. The hiring company has a business issue to solve and given that you have been selected for interview, you are well qualified to solve this business issue. It is just about making sure that this comes across effectively.

The interviewers are also hoping that you are going to do well. So everyone is on the same side in that respect. My advice in short (as candidates who have worked with me will likely recall), is:

  • Be prepared
  • Be confident
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Be specific

If I can be of assistance in respect to interview preparation, hiring or job search issues across the spectrum, feel free to give me a shout.


Job Seeker Tips for Finding an Independent Recruiter

by Sarah Freiburger

It is tempting in 2019 to be lazy when it comes to your next job search. Online job boards and career portals make it seem so easy to view and apply for multiple jobs with few clicks or effort, and if you have a highly sought position you may also be getting approached by companies or think that they will find you. However, this preferred way of finding a job does not always produce the end result that is a perfect match for you. When you are considering a job move you want to work with someone the same way an individual works with a personal trainer at the gym; focused on you and your goals. The option most similar to that attentive one on one personal trainer when it comes to employment is working with a third-party, independent recruiter.

An independent recruiter is a business owner focused entirely on the employment world of finding the right candidate for companies. Companies will hire an independent recruiting agency for a variety of reasons. It may be growing quickly and not have the time or ability to hire the desired employees. It may have tried to find employees for specific jobs but has been unable to find employees who meet their requirements. Or, it may be searching for employees outside of its reach located in a different location than the company headquarters; for example, in another state/province or another country.

As you explore connecting with and working with an independent recruiter, here are some tips to make sure you are working with a solid professional:

1. Recruiting Experience
For how long has the recruiter been working as a recruiter in your industry and/or other industries?

2. Knowledge and Capabilities
Does the recruiter understand your industry and the area in which you specialize? Or, do they have access to other independent recruiters either through an informal network or formal network who do understand the specifics of your situation.

3. Geographical Reach
If you are searching for a job in another state or province, does the recruiter belong to an informal or formal network of recruiters which would increase the likelihood that the recruiter would know about non-local jobs? If you are searching for a job in another country, does the recruiter have global recruiting capabilities?

4. Integrity
After speaking with the recruiter, do you feel the recruiter operates with integrity? You may want to ask the recruiter for a couple of references; individuals with whom the recruiter has worked and placed in new jobs.

5. Commitment
For your relationship with the recruiter to be fruitful, commitment is important. However, commitment goes both ways. I recommend you remove your resume from job boards and tell the recruiter you have done so. Why should you do this? Employers will not pay recruiters for finding candidates if they (the company) find them on job boards. Therefore, many recruiters choose to not work with candidates who have posted their resumes on job boards. Many times your resume itself is a much weaker representation of you than what a recruiter would present to a company of your full profile and screening.

If you have worked with a third-party, independent recruiter in the past, do you have any other suggestions for someone investigating this option?


How To Avoid Roadblocks That Sabotage Your Job Applications

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Keith Grafman, Founder and Principal of Creative Content Consulting, LLC. CCC positions digital identity for your career, dating, and business, with a consistent presence across your digital footprint. For more information, visit: www.CreativeContentConsulting.com

Wondering why your resume that’s chock full of color, graphics, pictures, unique characters and symbols isn’t landing you interviews? The culprit is most likely all of those fancy bells and whistles—they typically work against you.

Don’t let this discourage you from taking a creative approach to your resume and career positioning because you do need to individualize yourself, but it’s important to avoid confusing the parsing systems. Rather than leading with aesthetics, focus on articulating value.

For those of you that have heard of ATS systems, AKA Application Tracking Systems, that’s not the only part of your job application process that should concern you. There are also systems referred to as parsing systems. The simple explanation of a parsing system is the technology responsible for analyzing and interpreting your digital application/resume data to be organized and reviewed thereafter. More specifically, have you ever noticed when you’re prompted to submit/attach your resume/CV, immediately thereafter, a whole bunch of information (such as your name, phone number, city/state, etc.) populates? That’s a parsing system as work.

When an applicant is prompted to attach a resume/CV, there are typically options to submit a variety of formats, e.g. Microsoft Word, PDF, etc.

There’s a lot of debate surrounding the use of Microsoft Word vs. PDF documents for the digital application process—the fact is, both file formats have value.

The benefits of submitting a PDF-version of your resume:

  • Typically an accepted format for job application submissions
  • Keeps your resume formatting secured for submission process
  • Protects your data, organization and formatting within the document

The benefits of having a Word-version of your resume:

  • An easy-to-reference version that can be modified as needed
  • Some parsing systems may require the submission of a Word formatted document

Ideally, it’s optimal to have both a Word and PDF version of your resume, so you are able to:

  • Modify/add any relevant new details, accomplishments, etc. as your career progresses
  • Control the context and visual presentation of your career-positioning assets

If you find yourself confused about which resume file format is optimal for a job application submission, my suggestion would be to submit as a PDF whenever it’s an acceptable file format—This way, you’ll be able to protect your resume’s formatting and content.


The New Job Search for Executive Professionals

by Dave Nerz

OK, so you have been employed for the last 10 or more years. Just now you are beginning to search for what is next. Maybe your career is in flux because you experienced a reduction in force, or perhaps your company is moving and you are not, or you just need to do something new for someone else. There are new rules that will impact your job search methods. Some things really have not changed about job search, and others are all new.

Job hunting for executives has changed over the years and these ideas may help you improve the speed and results of your job hunt: Read the rest of this entry »


Top Recruitment Blogs of 2019

by Veronica Blatt

top recruitment blogsIt’s a holiday week in both Canada and the USA, so we’re only posting once and giving you a chance to catch up on your reading if you are among the many people away from the office. In case you missed them the first time around, here are our top recruitment blogs of the year to date:

Three Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Interviews: How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume Automation has made it more difficult for job seekers’ resumes to be seen by the proper hiring authorities. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) “read” resumes looking for keywords. If your resume doesn’t include the right words and the right formatting for machine-reading, it’s very possible you’ll be overlooked. This post includes tips for how to create a resume that will be “seen” and hopefully lead to more interviews! Read the rest of this entry »


Prepare, Prepare, Prepare

by Veronica Blatt

image of job interviewToday’s guest blogger is Paulette Steele with Real Resumes located in Queensland, Australia. Real Resumes is educating people from beginning to end on getting a job.  Short videos cover all aspects including: where to look for a job, writing effective resumes, researching and preparing for the interview, and most importantly, mastering the interview itself. Paulette has 15 years of recruitment experience and a vast career in various industries.

We hear the words Location, Location, Location when it comes to finding good real estate. Well, it’s Prepare, Prepare, Prepare when it comes to finding a job and particularly when getting ready for a job interview.

There is a lot of emphasis put on resumes and sure they are important to get your foot in the door, so to speak. However, if you are going to nail that interview and turn it into a job offer, you need to do a lot of preparation for the interview. The more you prepare, the more confident you will be in the actual interview. You can be thrown any question and be comfortable with answering it. Read the rest of this entry »


What Happens if You Receive a Counteroffer?

by Veronica Blatt

Changing jobs can be a huge source of stress, even when you *know* it’s the right decision. It’s common to feel sad or anxious, or even a little bit guilty even if you are excited about the new opportunity. On top of all those emotions, you have to actually resign – you know, tell your boss you’re leaving. And that’s when they hit you with the counteroffer. Maybe you didn’t see it coming, or maybe you should have, but either way it’s on the table and now you have to deal with it.

If you’re working with a recruiter, you have likely had the “counteroffer talk” multiple times throughout the hiring process. While that might make it less of a surprise, it can still feel like you’ve been caught off guard. It can still be difficult. Read the rest of this entry »


Tips for a Great Webcam Interview

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Anthony McCormack, founding consultant, managing director and entrepreneur behind Macstaff with offices in Bristol and Abergavenny, United Kingdom. Macstaff is a high impact recruitment consultancy majoring on right-fit permanent placements in construction, property, manufacturing and engineering sectors in UK & Internationally. Macstaff joined NPAworldwide in 2019. Anthony offers tips for a successful webcam interview in the post below, which originally appeared here.

Being interviewed on a webcam or video conference may save you traveling costs but there are still plenty of things that you need to get right to give yourself the very best chance of being successful on the day.

So you have secured an interview, presumably for a company and job role you find attractive.

Then you discover the interview is going to be in a video conference or webcam format. Read the rest of this entry »


Three Reasons Why You’re Not Getting Interviews: How to Create an ATS-Friendly Resume

by Veronica Blatt

ats-friendly resumeToday’s guest blogger is Keith Grafman, Founder and Principal of Creative Content Consulting. CCC positions digital identity for your Career, Dating, and Business, with a consistent presence across your digital footprint. For more information, visit: www.CreativeContentConsulting.com

While software automation has simplified the recruitment process for recruiters, staffing specialists, human resources professionals and employers, it has made the hiring process much more challenging for job seekers, applicants and candidates. Nowadays, Application Tracking Systems (ATS) are becoming continuously more sophisticated each day, and as a consequence, a resume won’t get selected to move forward and be reviewed by a human unless it satisfies a custom-programed, specific set of keywords and criteria for a particular position. The ATS-selection process can include, but is not necessarily limited to: experience, expertise, skills, competencies, awards, certifications, training, education, accomplishments, personality, demeanor and ambition(s). To further complicate this process, the ATS’ keywords(s) and criteria requirements can range from specific to very specific. For example, your resume’s usage of keywords, grammar, punctuation, etc. may potentially not be recognized by the ATS due to wording variation, such as either including or not including a word such as “specialist,” or even hyphenation of a phrase or terminology. Read the rest of this entry »


Don’t Marry the First Person You Date

by Veronica Blatt

Our guest blogger is Jason Elias of Elias Recruitment in Sydney, Australia. Elias Recruitment is a specialist legal recruitment consultancy, finding lawyers for law firms, not-for-profits and corporates, across Australia. Jason is the Secretary/Treasurer of the NPAworldwide Board of Directors and received our Chairman’s Award in 2014. Jason is also a Fellow of the peak recruitment industry body in Australasia  the RCSA (Recruitment & Consulting Services Association).

Whilst I am sure “love at first sight” does exist and my wife swears she knew we were going to get married the day we met- I would not advise anyone to marry the first person they dated.

Likewise, it is imperative when you counsel your candidates to take the best job offer, not the first one (especially when the first offer is not yours). There is no secret that the job market for candidates across many industries is the best it has been for a long time. Read the rest of this entry »