As we continue the theme of advice and encouragement provided by our Warwick Alumni community, this week’s blog focuses on interview tips – and provides a timely reminder that we have had and survived previous recessions.
Remember – while this pandemic is unique, looking for a job in an uncertain job market is definitely not unique. Job markets boom and bust. The career you thought you were going to have disappears due to a new technology etc. Having a period of unemployment on your CV if the worst case happens is not a disaster. Many of the recruiters will have their own experience of trying to find a job in a recession. Remember that interviewers care about unexplained gaps … not gaps that can be explained.
- If you aren’t getting interviews then don’t take it personally (you are applying in a recession!). Don’t just keep on sending out the same CV. Treat getting a job as a job in itself. Every application should be customised to the job advertisement. You are selling ‘you’. Trust me, going through 50 CVs and covering letters that do not address the role that is being applied for is soul destroying for the interviewer. When shortlisting I just look for for an applicant to show me they have skill x or, can show that they have a similar skill that would allow them to pick up skill x quickly.
Tell everyone that you are looking for a job. And I mean everyone. Your network, your auntie, the woman in the bus queue, your hairdresser….. you don’t know who someone knows (or who will overhear you … I’ve asked people to send a CV after hearing them talking to someone else on the train!)
- All interviews are valuable even if you don’t get the job. Having been interviewed so many times early on I completely lost my fear of being interviewed. I got experience of good interviewers and abysmal interviewers. I had interviewers who asked questions that would now be illegal, make rude remarks about my personal appearance and tell me to my face that they didn’t think I was suitable for the job. Looking back all I can say to those people is ‘thank you.’ It armed me with an arsenal of questions that I could prepare and rehearse answers to. It also made me a better interviewer when it was my turn to ask the questions. I’ve also been contacted months after being interviewed as the original hire didn’t work out.
- Practice being interviewed. Ask your parents or their friends to interview you. Video it if you can. Be brave – reach out on linked in and ask someone in the industry that you are interested in if they will give you a mock interview over Zoom or Skype.
- The interviewee cannot tell whether an interview has gone well or badly. I have been offered a job after spilling my coffee over the interviewer’s paper work. I have been offered job after an interview that was so awful that I stood outside the building afterwards crying my eyes out. At one interview I was delayed getting there and didn’t have time to change out of my motorcycle clothing into my posh outfit. They interviewed me with my waterproof over-trousers rolled down below my knees so I wouldn’t get the chair wet. In the toilets afterwards I found I had a black streak across my face due to water thrown up by lorries. I got offered the job! I’ve stopped an interview half way through and said “I think there has been a mistake, I don’t have the skills or qualifications for the job you are talking about”. They decided to continue the interview. I got offered the job as they decided I could learn what I needed after starting.
- An interview is a two way process. You are interviewing them. It really is OK to stop an interview and say: ‘I don’t think I’m going to be a good fit for this job. Thank you for giving me an insight into your company and the things you do. I hope you’ll consider me if I apply for a different role in the future.’ Best case scenario, you’ll then have a conversation about what you’re looking for and get some good advice / have your CV passed to another department.
- If you decide you want the job then don’t forget to tell the interviewer at the end of the interview. ‘Thank you for the chance to be interviewed. I’m definitely interested in this role.’ Particularly important if you are naturally reserved and don’t give away your thoughts. The interviewer may perceive you as not being interested and offer it to a candidate who isn’t as good but clearly displayed interest in being hired.
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