Ask James Caan – Issue 62
On Friday I appeared on ITV’s Tonight programme, ‘The Working Life: How To Get A Job’, in which I provided advice to three job seekers from very different backgrounds.
With unemployment rising once again – affecting all levels of applicant – I saw it as a great opportunity to share my experience with people from areas within our group, including school leavers, recent graduates and the over 50s.
Each job seeker’s situation showed just how each demographic has been hit hard, but it also highlighted how you can turn a challenge into an opportunity by going after what you really want. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, you can view it here: http://www.itv.com/itvplayer/video/?Filter=269765
Back to the column and this week I’ve chosen to answer a question from Harry who’s seeking to refine his interview technique.
‘Please help. I have attended around six interviews but have had no luck. I don’t know whether it is my confidence or if I am not experienced enough. Either way, I’m not getting anywhere.
‘I have four years in IT, admin and support but maybe this experience isn’t coming across. Please advise’.
Harry, let me start on a positive. The good news is your CV is working; it’s doing exactly what its purpose is: to secure you an interview. So technically, you are half way there which means you can devote your time and energy to fine-tuning your interview technique.
When it comes to an interview, you need to set your stall. Everything about you is like a shop window – how you present yourself, how you speak, how you engage.
As soon as you can, put yourself in the mind of the interviewer. Every interviewer, Harry, will have a subconscious check list. For example, they’ll keep an eye on the clock to see if you turned up on time, they’ll listen to see how you apply your skills to each question, and they will check to see if you have done your homework and researched their company.
As an interviewee, that means you will need to have looked into the business by visiting their website, requesting their sales brochure or even giving them a call; you will need to show you understand the requirements of the position and most importantly, you need to demonstrate how you will add value.
I often share this piece of advice with job seekers I speak to: don’t try to be the perfect candidate, just make sure you are better than the competition.
Too many interviewees are hung up by delivering the perfect performance – they shouldn’t. As long as you tick all the right boxes when it comes to dressing appropriately, presenting yourself, displaying the right body language, answering the questions and engaging in dialogue, then you needn’t worry.
What happens when you learn you haven’t been successful? I’d make sure to ask for tangible feedback that you can act upon. I appreciate telling candidates to ask for feedback seems a little straight forward; however, you would be surprised by the number of people that don’t request it. Employers’ feedback is most probably the most realistic feedback you can ask for.
I wish you the best of luck,