Nightmare or dream interview?

Headingley has begun to see its annual surge of cars packed to the rafters with everything a student might need for the new term, as Leeds opens the doors once again to freshers and returning students. These students are perhaps amongst the lucky ones with growing reports that fewer will secure University places as the Government cuts continue and fees increase. Will the job situation have improved by the class of 2013 or will we have more NEETS and unemployed Graduates?

How are NEETS impacting on the Yorkshire Job Market?

The one thing we can be sure of is how the growing number of school leavers and Graduates are impacting on the job market in Yorkshire. Senior people with extensive experience are being pushed aside for lower cost solutions. This is certainly not a strategy for the long game but is helping some organisations with the recession roller coaster.

How do we keep our economy growing?

In truth our businesses need this new blood to continue a successful growth plan and keep the economy moving in the right direction. How do we arm our young people to ensure they are successful when getting their first step on the career ladder?

Education Leeds is currently running a project to arm our school leavers and young people with the skills to succeed at interview. I was approached by the project to advise on how people can improve their chances. I reiterated the point that a major problem with the interview process is poor quality interviewers as well as poor candidates. I’ve not met a single client who has not had some trauma at the hands of an inexperienced interviewer. One imagines this is much harder to deal with if it’s only your first or second interview. What is the worst interview experience you’ve had?

The girl who brought along her mum!

I regularly ask the question about worst interview experience as either an interviewer or candidate and I am often amazed by the responses I receive. A client mentioned to me that they were interviewing for an office junior, a very nice young lady arrived, with her mum in tow. The mum then proceeded to answer every question on the daughter’s behalf. Mum then commented “My daughter is a real chatter box and never shuts up!” although she hadn’t uttered a word throughout the interview. I mentioned this story to a recruiter who confirmed candidates turn up with parents with startling regularity. What are the parent’s thinking? Turning up with additions is certainly not limited to parents; candidates have arrived with significant others, children and the odd cuddly toy thrown in for luck!

When the interviewer gets it wrong….

On the other side interviewers need to consider their probing style and make questions clear enough for the candidate to understand. One interviewer asked a school–leaver, “What gets you up on a morning.” To which he gave the literal response, “My mum with a cup of tea.” Asking ambiguous questions results in a laborious interview for both parties.

A good interview should be a two way process with the candidate deciding if the job is right for them as much as the employer deciding if the candidate is right for the role. All too often as the job search drags on the job simply becomes any job and candidates can appear desperate. This will significantly reduce the likely hood of a positive outcome. Remember most people at a senior level will go for a number of interviews before they secure the right position and the more senior the position the more stages you should expect within the process. Share your interview experience

Your Questions Answered

Q. I have not had an interview for several months and I feel my confidence levels are at an all time low, what can I do?

A. As a general rule there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises at interview. You should know what they are looking for and what the key competencies of the role are. With this in mind you should think about the kinds of questions you might be asked and ensure have prepared for some clear answers. I regularly have clients who book time with me to refresh their interview skills and ensure they feel 100% confident when they go into an interview. This can be especially helpful if the gap between interviews has been significant. Whatever you do practice, practice, practice!

Q. I’ve had several interviews but no job offers. I always get the same feedback, the other candidate had more experience, what can I do?

A. It is widely accepted that the best candidate does not always get the job, the one who gives the perception of being the best for the job does. Therefore how are you portraying yourself? Are you giving the answers they want to hear? Practice the questions, perhaps writing down the answers you have given, Did you stick to the point? Did you actually answer the question? How could you improve your answers? I would also suggest contacting the interviewer for more constructive feedback.

Q. I went for a position as a Sales Manager and three weeks on I haven’t heard from the company and have since seen the job re–advertised. Should I follow up?

A. The part of your question that stands out to me is the fact that you are a Sales Manager; demonstrate the behaviours you would expect to display in the role and you will increase your chances of securing the position. If the interviewer had been a client would you have waited three weeks to make contact? Always follow up after any interview.