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Job Seeker Resource Centres
Posted by Kinsale Advertiser on 15 May 2013

Job-Seeker’s Resource Centres throughout West Cork are assisting job-hunters with their job-hunting efforts. Volunteers have been trained to support job-seekers in many ways towards achieving their job – in areas such as information provision / decision making / CV Preparation / job Applications and pro-active job-seeking. A key and critical part of the job-seeking process is the interview. Adapted from many sources, here we provide some tips and ideas to prepare and conduct job-interviews.

Interviews have many formats from the very formal to the very informal. From the job-seekers perspective – they all aim to achieve the same goal – ie – get selected for the job – and thus no matter what the format of the interview – It should be given its due attention and preparation.

In considering interviews – The philosophy of Job-Seekers Resource Centres is that the candidate has a job to do – That is to sell themselves / their skills / their person / their abilities in the best way they can. The aim is that the candidate should “do themselves justice” and do the “best they can”, not leaving the interview situation with regrets. If this happens then whether the job is achieved or not, you can move on to the next job-seeking goal without second guessing yourself.

One technique to try to remove the butterflies and counterproductive emotionality of the situation is to try to imagine yourself selling a breakfast cereal. Think of the things you would do or say to convince someone to buy that cereal. How would you talk about the product. What would you say to the potential purchaser of cereal? – What reasons would you give? Give it a try. You will note that this is not too difficult – You can quite easily make a convincing argument as to why the purchaser should buy the cereal you are selling. In the interview the product is you. If you can treat the interview process similarly you can relax and prepare with intent to do the best sales job you can.

We are in a good place. You have been selected for an interview – Which itself is an achievement in a difficult labour market. Having been selected you now know your application has proven that you have the technical capabilities and skill set to undertake the job at hand. The interview may be used to double check and prove your technical skills – But this is not the primary purpose of the interview. The primary aim of the interview is for the employer to get a feel for the “person” being interviewed.

The employer wishes to determine whether you will fit in the team – whether you will be a nice person to work with – will you have a pleasant and friendly demeanour when you are all working together in the coming years. The employer wants Someone who is committed, can work under pressure, is flexible and has a can-do attitude. People who can multi-task with little fuss. These traits are all very human and difficult to measure – and yet they are the most important traits. It will be your job at interview to get across to an employer that you have these attributes and more besides. But talk is cheap – so when expressing your abilities in these areas – you will need to back them up with a very short anecdote or story which proves your point.

So the first tip is to prepare a list of up to 30 key characteristics about you – technical / human / personal / obvious / not-so obvious. These are the 30 key selling points about you and it is your job to get this across at interview. Don’t presume that the employer has had time to read your CV in detail or remembers its content – so by all means repeat (reinforce) the content of the CV.

For each of these key characteristics you should prepare a short story or anecdote which proves your point – Don’t ramble – make your point – reinforce it and then move on – eg – “I am trust worthy – I was nominated as treasurer by my local club – and I held the position for 4 years.” – Here you have made your point – you have reinforced – so now move on and get the next selling point across.

With this sales-pitch strategy for interviews – The open ended questions are the easiest – “Tell me about yourself” – Turns out to be the best possible question to be asked because you have prepared 30 things about yourself to tell them – so you will have plenty to tell them about your suitability for the job.

Questions you expect to be asked: -There will be a number of questions you expect to be asked – you should prepare a strong answer for at least 10 questions which you expect to be asked.

Questions you don’t want to be asked. – For every career or every position there will be a number of questions you will hope not to be asked – You should prepare for these questions and when you answer them well – the employer will be even more impressed.

Interview basics: - There are a large number of interview basics which I am not going to discuss here – your attire / your presentation / your punctuality / your body language / spoken language / eye-contact are all exceptionally important and should be taken very seriously – You can get advice on these matters on-line at www.westcorkjobsupport.com or at any of the job-seekers resource centres.

Research: - When selected for interview – you should work very hard at researching the position and the company in question. Don’t be afraid to ask someone involved – This is not canvassing. Every word in the job-description and the personal-specification was put there for a reason – make sure you are fully briefed on the role and who they are looking for. Your job is to convince them that this person is you. If you have not been provided a job-description or a personal specification – use the internet to find one for a similar role.

If you don’t get the job. Once you have given yourself the best shot and done yourself justice – then move on to the next project and leave it behind you. If you chose to seek constructive feedback – do so modestly and carefully without burning your bridges – or seeming like a potential litigant. There is a significant chance that another opportunity may arise and you might have been a close runner – so even after an unsuccessful interview – you remain on sales mode when dealing with the employer.

Fergal Conlon is Local Community Development Programme Manager with West Cork Development Partnership. 5 Job-Seekers Resource Centres operate in Kinsale, Bandon, Clonakilty, Skibbereen and Macroom. Services are free. See www.westcorkjobsupport.com for details.