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How to Secure an Interview in a post-COVID Market

Posted on 14th August 2020 by Shauna McTigue

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Changing industry and joining a recruitment company over three years ago has really opened my eyes to just how much I didn’t know when applying for jobs in the past. Having an extensive background in the hospitality sector, working across the marketing, accounting and front of house functions, I thought I had a great understanding of how to interview and discuss my skills and relevant experience. I have since realised that while companies look for those qualities, the culture and actual fit to a business is just as important as your proven experience.

Unfortunately, COVID has led to significant job losses and a highly competitive job market. To help those people who are currently looking for a new job, I wanted to share some of the tips I have picked up and some of the advice that I give to my candidates.

Take pride in your CV & LinkedIn

Your CV is the most important tool you have when applying for a position. It represents your skills, experiences and career history so take the time to double check it for spelling and grammar mistakes. This should also include having someone else read over it. Stating you have great attention to detail but presenting a CV with several spelling mistakes is not a good look.

A completed LinkedIn profile can help to take your job application to the next level. Your LinkedIn shouldn’t be a carbon copy of your CV but instead compliment it by providing more information on your career history, the industries you have worked in and your employers. However is still a great idea to include your key skills, job titles and experiences as recruiters will often search LinkedIn for these criteria. If you have a completed LinkedIn profile, you are more likely to be found and approached by a recruiter for what could be your dream position!

Never exaggerate your experience

As a recruiter, it is my responsibility to ensure that you have the skills and experiences that are stated on your CV before placing you into a role. The reference process is a strong tool for employers and recruiters as it provides insight into what you were doing in previous positions as well as your performance and personality. Recruiters will also review your LinkedIn profile to ensure that the dates you worked for previous employers align and that your experience is the same as your CV. A full reference process will uncover any exaggerations about your previous roles, dates worked, performance or culture fit so honesty and attention to detail is everything when it comes to your application.

Make sure your CV is formatted correctly and is relevant

Although the content of your CV is important, so is its formatting. Make sure that you have properly displayed your relevant job experience when applying for a position. Under each role you need to display your job title, the company’s name, the dates you worked showing both the month and the year and your achievements and responsibilities. Your achievements should be the benefits you brought to your employer. For example, how a piece of work that you completed saved the business money or improved its profit. While your achievements can be something large or small, you should always try to include exact results such as percentage increases or precise figures. Your professional achievements are important but you should also make room for any personal achievements that you are proud of.

Take a breath

Most people get nervous before attending an interview but it is something you need to manage. To help my candidates relax, I often tell those who are going on an interview that the person you are meeting wants you to be just as successful as you do. Chances are, the recruiter or hiring manager selected you for an interview out of hundreds of applications. If you have been asked to come in for an interview, something about your skills and experiences stood out to them. An interview is simply a conversation where the employer is trying to get a better idea of how you work, who you are and what you want, and an opportunity for you to decide if this position and employer is right for you.

Be prepared for your job interview

I cannot stress this enough: be prepared! Always research the company before attending an interview. This includes gaining a decent knowledge and understanding of what they do and what they are trying to achieve. There are certain common interview questions that tend to come up so be prepared to answer them. I used to struggle with talking about my strengths and weaknesses when asked about them. It’s easy to point out your strengths but not so easy to pick out a weakness. The key is, once again, being honest. A weakness shouldn’t be something you cannot easily improve, such as a personality trait. Instead, it could be something technical. For example, you could highlight that you are not that confident in a particular system, but you have used other systems and are actively trying to close this skill gap. Answering this question in this way brings attention to the fact that you are aware of a knowledge gap but you are trying to gain more experience and knowledge to bridge it.

Closing Thoughts

In closing, there is a lot to think about when preparing for an interview and some candidates may only interview a handful of times in their lives. There is nothing wrong with that and, if you have prepared properly, there is nothing to be worried or nervous about. When attending an interview, the best way to combat those nerves is to know you are walking in prepared, to know what is on your CV, and to be confident that you have covered your relevant experience. Always remember it is just a conversation, and while you want the job, the employer wants an employee they can trust to do the job.

Don’t forget to prepare several questions to ask the interviewer yourself when asked near the end of the interview. Asking your own questions shows that you are interested and engaged, and some questions can help the manager envision you doing the job. Check out our resource on the 5 best and worst interview questions to ask an employer as well as other great advice.

If you are in the market for a new role, we also have some great roles across admin, accounting & IT in Auckland & Wellington right now on our job board.