What employers want from interviews?

With the CV Coach

In my previous instalment on ‘how to write a Curriculum Vitae (CV)  that can give you competitive edge, in today’s fast-paced job market, I highlighted the basic information to be included, and how to arrange it. I pointed out that, a CV may simply be defined as a summary of one’s experience, achievements, and skills.

As indicated in the previous article, CVs should be prepared in a way that market the applicant before he or she personally meets the prospective employer, and as such it should be prepared in a way that is attractive, precise, and clear to understand.

In this episode, I am going to look at what happens after. When advertising a vacancy, the hirer puts down the guidelines on what is being expected from the applicant, which include experience, education, and attributes, among other things. And after receiving the applications, the employer goes on to sort out the CVs, placing them in trays, some to be discarded, others put by the side for possible further consideration, while the best ones are shortlisted.

After this first or initial selection, the hirer would then contact those shortlisted candidates to come for an interview, interviews are important because it is during this stage, where the employer will have direct interface, marry the applicant with his or her CV. Interviews also help the hirer to find out more about the applicant, at the same time giving the applicant the opportunity to convince the employer that he or she is the right person for the job.

During an interview, the employer will be equipped with the information contained in the advertisement for the job, as well as the applicant’s CV, and basically, it is against these two on which the applicant would be measured. During this stage the interviewer will seek to find out more about the applicant in person, and interrogate as to if what was indicated in the CV is so, for instance, proof of education and qualifications; original certificate, diplomas or any other.

Some of the questions to look forward to during an interview include the following;

Tell us about yourself

Here, the employer wants a brief history about your-self; so as to help understand the applicant more. In your answer, highlight the important information, your history, and personal attributes in line with what is being sought, though some of this data may be followed-up as the interview progresses. Show that you are results oriented and that you are good in working with others.

Period worked in your previous job(s)

Interviewers may ask this question in order to find out if you are a person who is able to settle at a job, and not the one who hops from job to job. An employee is an asset, though this does not mean that one shouldn’t change jobs, but nobody would want to employ a nomadic who is always on the road. Employers seek someone who is stable, as this shows how well you went along with your previous employer.

Reason for leaving

Here the hirer would want to find and weigh your character, were you fired and if so why, this helps to know if you have problems in working. Or you left at your own accord, in response concentrate on your eagerness, and being an individual who is driven by the adventure in exploring new opportunities. Never blame or lambast your previous employer, as this would mean that you may not be good in going on with superiors.

What were some of your duties?

The duties you have performed shows how flexible you are. This helps to know that when the need arise you can also perform other tasks, this is why some job adverts contain clauses like ‘and any other duties as may be assigned from time to time’ (multi-tasking).

Why you want to join us?

To answer this one, you may need a brief background about the company, and express your passion to be part of the team, how your qualifications and attributes fit into the company culture, and what you can offer.

What are your salary expectations?

In answering this one, you have to be tactful, have a guideline on the salary ranges in the industry, or for similar grades/ position being applied. Your expected salary should neither be too high, as this could work against you, nor should it be too low as this would mean you sell yourself cheaply, and sounds as if you are compromised in the way you work.

What are your strength and weaknesses?

Try to present a positive lean; your weaknesses should not be too heavy, if weighted against your strengths, as this disregards the need to hire you in the first place. Indicate how your weaknesses can be explored into strengths, or indicate steps you have taken to overcome them.

Do you have any questions?

When you are given the opportunity to ask questions, again use your background knowledge about the company, and ask relevant questions. It always sounds great to the employer to know that you have some interest in the company and that you can speak their language. You may ask about how the company take the issue of personal development, for instance in-house trainings, staff turnover, why the previous person to hold the post left, etc.