Seven Minutes To Your Perfect Elevator Pitch

You’ve no doubt heard of the elevator pitch but many people don’t get around to creating their own version of it. If you are a genuine person, it can feel a little contrived to spend time on something you deem to be a glorified sales pitch.

But let’s not overlook that any version of recruitment is selling. It’s matching a skillset well enough with an employment need to spike an interest. So with that in mind, why wouldn’t you want to have a well honed synopsis of yourself at the ready for when the opportunity presents itself?

Keeping it simple – your elevator pitch is a super quick summary of your background and experience. Super quick being the operative words. As the name suggests, the elevator pitch was designed to be your little ‘me speech’ which you can deliver in its entirety in an elevator ride, so 30-60 seconds is your limit.

Admittedly we may not be spending all of our time in lifts, but if you think about how many situations present themselves to you as a chance to share what you do in day to day life, not having a perfectly natural elevator pitch to draw from is a missed opportunity every time.

If you get this right, you’ll feel prepared enough to confidently introduce yourself to business or career connections in a compelling way.

Want to know how you can sound like the next best employee rather than a bimbling Hugh Grant when people ask what you do?

Here are some tips to get you primed and ready…

What Should I Include In My Elevator Pitch?

Remember – no padding! All this needs to be is who you are, what you do and a short recap of how you got there. If you are job hunting, then you share what you’d like to be doing instead of current employment. If you are naturally able to, add some emotion too which highlights that you’d be an invested employee – spark their interest.

Here’s an example…

I recently graduated from university with a degree in communications. I worked as a reporter on the university newspaper and progressed to the role of editor of the arts section. I loved these roles and am looking for a job which will put my journalism skills to work.

You can see how having such a succinct opener gives people the opportunity to strike up a conversation if they wish. That’s all an elevator pitch is. You didn’t sound pushy or needy, you simply offered enough information in a short space of time to introduce yourself properly and confidently.

When Do I Use My Elevator Pitch?

The beauty of capturing yourself in such a short and precise way is that you can deliver this in many formats. In person or online – if people can see a quick snapshot they don’t mind reading to the end of it.

If you are job hunting, you’ll want to be able to use this wherever you possibly can…

  • Career Expos
  • Job Fairs
  • Networking Events
  • Professional Meetings
  • Job Interviews – when asked the “Tell me about yourself” question
  • Linked In – use it as your headline so that all comments are a mini advert
  • Twitter or other Social Media Platforms
  • Whenever asked “What do you do?, Where did you study?” etc

Basically any conversation with the right audience could be a potential connection so be a little more attentive with the people you’re talking to.

Practice Really Does Make Perfect (AND Relaxes You!)

There’s nothing worse than people gushing at you when you ask them what they do. Offputting is an understatement so the more relaxed you can be in delivering your elevator pitch, the more likely you are to engage your recipient.

It’s hard to be relaxed with something unfamiliar though, so make sure you practice this until you can deliver it in a way which sounds totally ‘you’.

If you have close friends you’re comfortable to practice on, rope them in, but if not, try recording yourself either on video or simply on a voice recorder and listen or watch back. Would you employ you if you saw or heard that version?

If the answer is no, keep going until you would. You’ll hone it very quickly but the practice will also help you to learn your pitch too, so if it feels silly, just think of the ££’s that could come your way when you land your perfect job because of a chance meeting at Costa!

We joke, but you really don’t ever know where opportunities are lurking so a great elevator pitch really could be one of the best tools in your job hunting arsenal!

Know Your Audience

Following on from the practice your pitch comment, try to be intuitive about your audience too. Clues such as their age, their dress sense, their job or role will all act as identifiers of how to pitch yourself. Knowing you’re speaking to the head of a technical team would allow you to drop a tiny bit of jargon in to show you know your stuff.

Trying to dazzle the CEO with tech lingo may not be so well received so paying a tiny bit of attention to anything that hints at a shared interest will go a long way in getting you heard.

A little secret too – if you are confident enough to try to make them laugh – don’t hold back. Laughter is unspoken resonance – an instant ‘I like you’ BUT it has to be natural – if you;re usually funny very easily this shouldn’t be excluded. However, if you don’t feel you could carry it off, maybe give the comedy a miss as you risk making an impression for the wrong reasons.

Hopefully, you can see how just a bit of confidence to use your elevator pitch regularly will really spread the word far more easily for you than not being prepared. You’ll be happy to talk about yourself rather than being petrified of being asked what you’re currently doing – particularly if you’re job hunting right now.

We’ve all been there and stuttering your words along with your sweaty palms may not get you off to the best start.

Feel free to share with us how you’re getting on, or your successful elevator pitch stories!

People sat waiting for a job interview

Competency Based Interviews.

Competency Based Interviews.

A blueprint for success, every time

The competency based interview is often approached with trepidation by candidates. The format is very different to less structured interviews and requires a specific approach in order to succeed. It’s probably the only type of interview where answering questions with the right information but in the wrong way can mean failure. This guide is designed to help candidates succeed at the competency based interview by taking steps to prepare beforehand and to remain calm and focused during the interview itself. Read the following guide, practice your approach and you’ll never have to fear this interview format again.

Why do employers use the competency based interview?

This type of interview normally forms part of a wider interview process. It might be conducted over the telephone, or face to face depending on the company. It would usually be accompanied by a less structured interview at some point. Again all this depends on the company and its particular process. I’ve had some senior candidates fail this type of interview and some relatively inexperienced candidates perform excellently. The good news is that anyone can do well if they stick to the methodology.

The competency based interview is designed to assess your ability to do the job you have applied for based on past behaviour. More specifically, it looks at how candidates have performed previously against a set of competencies that are relevant to the job. The CIPD offers the following definition, ‘Competency’ and ‘competencies’ may be defined as the behaviours (and, where appropriate, technical attributes) that individuals must have, or must acquire, to perform effectively at work – that is, the terms focus on the personal attributes or inputs of the individual.’

So, the company interviewing you is trying to assess, based on past performance, whether you exhibit the right behaviours to succeed in the role. Therefore, you must find a way to get across to the interviewer that you have demonstrated the behaviours in real life situations.

A level playing field

As well as giving the company a structured way to assess candidates, it also offers two other things. Firstly, a level playing field, meaning that candidates can shine whatever their experience. Because it looks at behaviours, it works for all experience levels. Whether the candidate is a CEO or someone who has just graduated, everyone can find examples that will allow them to demonstrate the desired behaviours. The second thing the interview style allows, is for anyone to conduct the interview, regardless of their experience or particular approach. This means that large numbers of candidates can be interviewed by many different people in the organisation, and the results can be objectively assessed. As long as the interviewer sticks to the questions and accurately records the responses, candidates can be reassured that any biases held by the interviewer will have no impact on the results.

After the interview, the results are assessed and a score is given for each question, dependin on how much evidence of each behaviour the candidate has offered. If the candidate has not offered any evidence of the behaviour, then the score for that question would likely be zero. If the candidate has shown some evidence, then perhaps a score of one or two would be given and so on. Scores are typically on a scale from zero to four, although this is up to the company to decide and knowing the scoring system shouldn’t change your approach in any case. The scores are then added up to give an overall score for the interview, which can be compared like for like with other candidates. Hopefully you are starting to see that it is possible to score highly in this type of interview, if you follow the correct approach and make sure that you use the methodology to address each question in full.

Preparation is key

In order to shine in a competency based interview, preparation is one of the most important things to consider. You should know the type of interview you are going to be attending beforehand. Ask the company or your recruiter if you don’t know. Whilst you are very unlikely to be given the actual questions, you may be able to find out, or work out, the competencies and behaviours that the interviewer is going to assess. A lot of companies will list the competencies in their job specifications or descriptions. If the competencies are not given, why not try asking for them? A phone call to the company will show professionalism on your part, and demonstrate a diligent approach to your work. You could try saying, ‘In order for the interview to be as productive as possible, could you please forward me a list of the competencies that will be assessed?’ Most candidates won’t do this, so as well as being better prepared for the interview, you’ll also stand out from the crowd for the right reasons. To put this in a work context, would you ever turn up for an important meeting having done zero preparation? Your approach to interviews is a direct indication of your approach to work.

Typical examples of competencies that might be assessed are communication, decision making, resilience and ability to adapt. A quick Google search will bring up several websites with comprehensive lists of competencies and the likely questions that accompany them. If we take ‘working in a team’ as an example, you could be asked, ‘Give me an example of when you played a part in delivering a piece of work to a tight timescale?’ You can see that this question could be applicable to many different situations. A CEO might formulate an answer about a strategic review, whereas a school leaver might talk about working with others to finish a piece of coursework in time for a deadline. Either situation allows the question to be answered fully, using very different examples.

When preparing for the interview, sit down with your CV and think about situations you have faced where you can demonstrate the behaviours for each competency. Everyone can do this regardless of their experience. The important thing is to think about how you behaved in the situation and what the outcomes were.

STAR stories

The best way to ensure that you answer each question fully is to use the STAR methodology. This stands for Situation, Task, Action and Result. To answer the question above, you could say, ‘In my final year at university, I had a number of deadlines to meet. One of these was to collaborate with other students to present the findings of a year-long research project into social media in the workplace (situation). My role (task) in the group was to manage the production of the presentation so that it was ready to be delivered by the specific date. I recognised that everyone was busy with other work, so I put together a timetable and assigned tasks to each person, with regular meetings set out to check progress (action). Some people were struggling with their workload, so the meetings were really helpful and allowed us to reallocate some tasks to people who were less busy. Ultimately, the presentation was delivered on time and as a group we were awarded a first for that piece of work (result). This is just one example of how to use the methodology to fully answer the question to the satisfaction of the interviewer. I guarantee that you can think of similar examples from your career, education or even family life.

The interview will feel strange as it won’t have much of a flow to it. You’ll be asked a question, you’ll give an answer; the interviewer will sit quietly and write down your answer in full then ask you another question. This is normal for the interview style so don’t be put off by the silences.

Difficult subjects

Interviewers like to throw in difficult questions now and again, to explore how you react to change and adversity. A good example might be, ‘Tell me about a time when something you undertook went wrong. What did you do and what was the outcome?’ There is nothing to fear from answering the question, if you stick to the plan. Answering these questions can in fact impress upon the interviewer your suitability for the role. Everyone makes mistakes; it’s how they deal with them that’s important. Here you should talk about the situation and your tasks honestly. Describe what happened and what went wrong. From there you can set out the actions you took to turn things around and what the results were. With a bit of thought, it’s possible to turn most negatives into positives. One word of warning here though; don’t use examples that paint you in a bad light. You might think it was noble to stand up to your boss and refuse to do something you were asked to do. Your interviewer however might see you as someone who has a problem with authority. Context is everything and if you can’t get that across then it’s better to use another example.

In summary

Competency based interviews are useful for comparing a large number of candidates in an objective manner. They focus on behaviours, and can be conducted by interviewers with varying skill levels, meaning that you won’t be disadvantaged if you have a less experienced person interviewing you. Your answers will be scored according to how fully you answer the questions. The good news is that if you follow the methodology, you can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a high score.

Preparation is key. Find out if the interview is to be competency based, and ask for the competencies if they are not included in the job specification. Go through your CV and your experience, pull out relevant examples and practice your answers. Use the STAR methodology to formulate a complete answer and remember to cover each part fully.

Don’t be afraid of difficult subjects, prepare for them and have examples to hand where you can demonstrate how you turned adversity into triumph.

Stick to the plan and you’ll impress. Good luck!

Please share any of your experiences with this type of interview below.

A woman and a man talking about business

The first job interview; prepare to succeed

The first job interview; prepare to succeed

Securing a first interview is a major step on your journey to finding a job. The good news is that if you have succeeded in getting an interview, the company is really interested in your profile and your experience. It’s likely that you’ve made the cut from around 300 or more candidates down to perhaps 10 or less. That’s an achievement in itself and you should be encouraged.

In one of our previous posts, ‘Five ways to greatly increase your chances of getting a new job’, we gave an overview of how to prepare for the first interview. This post is the comprehensive guide that we promised to write as a follow up. Follow these steps and you will be better prepared and more confident than most of your competition.

Use a recruiter

You should consider using a good recruiter to help with your job search. Someone who knows the market and the client can give you a real edge over other candidates the company will be meeting. At all stages of the application process, your recruiter will be fighting your corner, giving you advice, preparing you for interviews and offering unique insights into the client and the people you’ll be meeting. Using a bad recruiter could damage your chances however, so you must find someone good. We’ll be posting another blog soon about how to engage with a good recruiter and what you should expect. We’ll also tell you how to spot a bad recruiter.

Find out about the interview process

Is this going to be a two or three stage process? What will this first stage involve? Will it be an informal chat with HR? Will there be online tests? You need to know the answers to all these questions otherwise you could get caught out; leading to a sub-standard performance on the day.

If you are using a recruitment firm then your consultant should give you all this information. If you’re going direct to the employer, you need to ask for this information if it isn’t given to you. Phone up the contact you have at the company and ask them about the process and the different stages. The meeting will be more productive if you have had a proper chance to prepare for it. Any employer who spends valuable time interviewing will be disappointed if the interviewee turns up ill-prepared. On the other hand, a candidate who has researched the company, knows the process and is enthusiastic will be very well received.

Understand the type of interview you will be attending

Depending on the format of the interview, you’ll need to prepare in a specific manner. There are several types of interview. The initial interview could be on the telephone or via Skype. It could be face to face in an office or informally in a coffee shop. It could be with HR, the line manager or a senior director, depending on the company. It may be competency based, it may involve tests; the list goes on. The important thing is that you know what to expect and that you prepare for the interview specifically.

For competency based interviews, see our recent post for a comprehensive guide to preparing for and attending the interview. For all interviews, there are several things you need to do in order to be successful.

Get to know the company

You must research the company fully before attending the interview. This is non-negotiable, you have to do it. Turning up and meeting someone from a company you know nothing about is a complete waste of your time and the time of the person interviewing you. Imagine it from their point of view. They are looking to hire someone and they want that person to be interested in working at the company. If you don’t know what the company is about, the products or services it provides, or where it is going then you will fall flat on your face. I have interviewed people who knew more about the company that I did, and it impressed me greatly. By the same token, I have asked candidates what they knew about the company, and some have looked blankly, others have taken a fairly broad guess. Nothing shines like a prepared and enthusiastic candidate. Do your research.

There are loads of places to look for information. The first would be the company website. Read the ‘About Us’ section and then go on from there. If you are interviewing with a multi-national, then it’s acceptable to have an overview of the main company and in-depth knowledge of the area of the business that you’ll be working in. The news section is also definitely worth looking at. Here you’ll find the latest company developments. Has the company recently won an award, launched a new product or hired a new senior member of staff? News stories are a good source of content for questions you want to ask in the interview. You can generally glean a lot of information from this section of the website so make sure you read plenty of stories, going back at least a few months if not longer.

You need to know the history of the company. With so much consolidation in today’s markets, it may well be that the company has acquired a key competitor, maybe even a company you previously worked for. Read in the wider business press as well. Is the company rumoured to be on the takeover trail, or is it a target for a takeover? Read the relevant industry press also. There are trade publications for every type of business, many of them online. You have to stand out as someone who knows what is going on. This goes for any role you might be applying for, it’s always good to show that you are able to research information, take it in, digest it and form thoughts around it. That is after all what you will be expected to do in your job.

There are other websites to look at also. LinkedIn is a key site on which to conduct research. Look at the profiles of company employees, are they consistent, what do they say about the company? Glassdoor is a site that allows employees to rate their employer, and to leave one positive and one negative comment. Some companies have hundreds of reviews and this is typically down to the size of the organisation; more employees, more reviews. These reviews are very useful for forming an overall opinion of the company, along with your other research. Be aware that some people may have an agenda though. It’s generally easy to spot reviews that are extreme either way, as they stand out from the majority.

You should be able to get a good idea about the company through reading a number of reviews. It’s perfectly reasonable to ask a question about any points that keep coming up. For example, if lots of reviews mention a lack of career progression then ask a question, phrased in the right way, to explore this. Don’t say, ‘Lots of employees on Glassdoor say that the company holds people back.’ Instead, try asking, ‘I noticed during my research on Glassdoor, that some employees mentioned it can take a while to see career progression. Is this a fair reflection?’ It might be that there is a period of time before high potential employees are identified and steered onto a progressive track. Remember that you are interviewing the company as well, and you need to know if something you value might cause an issue if it doesn’t meet with your aspirations.

Get to know the people

The recruiter will tell you who you are meeting. Through LinkedIn you can then do some research into the person to find out who they are and what they have done in their career. You may find that the person previously worked at your current employer, or they went to the same school. These are all common areas of interest and you are bound to find something that you share. Be aware that the other person will see that you have viewed their profile on LinkedIn. If you are uncomfortable with this then you can change your privacy settings, so they only see an overview profile, or you can in fact appear totally anonymous. I think it’s fine to leave the settings as they are, so that the person can see you have viewed them. It shows initiative.

The other benefit of looking at someone on LinkedIn is that there should be a photo. If you know what the person looks like, you can confidently approach them when they come to reception to meet you. If the company is in a large office, sometimes reception is a busy area with lots of people coming and going. Very large buildings often have several companies within. Do you remember the taxi driver Guy Goma who went to the BBC for a job interview and was then interviewed on live TV after he was mistaken for the technology journalist Guy Kewney? Hopefully this won’t happen to you, but every bit of research you do will help the day to go smoothly.


Practice makes perfect. Go through your CV and the job spec. Draw out the key areas and concentrate on these especially. If the role requires a focus on new business wins, then make sure you are well versed on your own new business wins and how you went about securing them. Use the STAR methodology to answer competency based questions, as discussed in our post on competency based interviews.

Get a friend to help you by asking questions on the areas you think will be the most important. Keep practising your answers until you feel comfortable. The more you practice, the better you will come across on the day.

Plan your route

If you have never been to the office before then plan a route so you know you will arrive promptly. You can do this on Google maps, AA Routefinder or of course your satnav. If time allows then carry out a dry run at a similar time of day. It is hugely stressful to be rushing to get to the interview, and you are unlikely to regain your composure until well into the interview itself, which is likely to damage your chances of impressing the interviewer. If you get caught in traffic or your train is cancelled whilst travelling to the interview, phone the company the moment you realise that you can’t make the agreed time. You cannot control everything and the person will understand, as long as you let them know in good time.

If you are driving to the interview then make sure you know where you are going to park. If the company has a car park then you may need to book a visitor space. Research other car parks in the area so you have a back-up should something go wrong. Above all, leave plenty of time to get there. It’s better to sit in a café around the corner for 30 minutes than be running up the road with seconds to spare.

What to wear

This very much depends on the type of company you are going to visit and the role you are applying for. In nearly all cases, business dress is the safest option. It is unlikely that you could be over-dressed for an interview. The exception would perhaps be the creative industries, where a slightly more casual look is acceptable. If you are using a recruiter, ask their advice. If not, phone the company to check.

In summary

Understand the interview process so you know what to expect and how the interview fits into the overall structure. Know the type of interview you’ll be attending, so you can prepare thoroughly. Research the company fully, you need to know what the company does and where it wants to get to, as you’re hoping to be a part of that success. Research the interviewer. Use the information online to give you an edge, find some common ground or come up with killer questions that will impress. Practice, practice, practice. Focus on the key job requirements and practice answering questions around these. Know where you are going for the interview, how you are going to get there and how long it takes. Dress appropriately and if in doubt, go smart.

Good luck with your interview!

Please use the comments section to tell us about your interview experiences, good and bad. Thanks for reading.

So you didn’t get the job, what now?

In our last blog post, ‘Five ways to greatly increase your chances of getting a new job’, we gave you some top tips to help with your job search. This post is about what to do if you don’t get the job. Or more specifically, what NOT to do.

When you’ve put in the effort to find an opportunity, conduct extensive research, attend the interviews and made the decision that this is the role for you, it’s very disappointing if you don’t ultimately get the job. How you act after being given the bad news though is critically important for your future chances of ever getting to meet that employer again. Not only that specific employer, but other potential employers as well. Recruitment professionals change jobs and move to other companies. They also come into contact with lots of other recruiters. Additionally, part of their job is to deal with references. It doesn’t take a huge leap to realise that you need to be professional at ALL stages of the recruitment process, and this includes after the process has finished.

The moment of truth

Imagine the scene. You’ve been waiting a week to hear whether you’ve got the job or not, your friends and family know about it, the tension has been building. The phone rings, you take the call; it’s bad news. You didn’t get the job. How do you react? Probably with disappointment which is understandable. It’s what you say and do next that can really make or break your credibility.

Telling someone they haven’t got the job is not a nice thing to have to do, but it is part of a recruiter’s role. I have finished some conversations with a new found respect for candidates in this situation, and I’ve also mentally decided that I would never again deal with some others. Any decision has been thought out thoroughly, most probably by a number of people, so it isn’t a good idea to tell the recruiter that they are making a mistake, or worse, react with anger or rudeness.

Pen and pad at the ready

You should receive feedback from the employer or the recruitment consultant if you applied through an agency. This should be proper, constructive feedback on why you weren’t successful. You need to write this feedback down, as the phone call and its contents will be a blur afterwards. Ask questions to establish any facts you are not clear on. How did you rate against the person who got the job? What could you have done differently? What areas can you work on to improve your chances in your other interviews? Where there any areas of concern in your background? This phone call is a fantastic opportunity to learn from someone who sees thousands of CVs a year and conducts hundreds of interviews; use it wisely. At the end of the call, thank the person for their time and honesty.

Another key reason for taking a positive approach is that sometimes the new hire doesn’t work out. It happens, and if it does, who do you think the recruiter will call? The person who was polite, who understood the decision and thanked them for their time, or the person who sounded frustrated, angry or aggressively told them they were making a mistake? You know the answer to that question.

There are several other things you could do that you really shouldn’t:

Vent on social media

It is so easy to pick up your phone and tweet your frustration, or put an update on Facebook detailing why the company is making a big mistake. Don’t do it. Once you put something out there, it’s there forever, even if you delete it. You might feel momentarily better, but what happens when your tweet surfaces in front of a recruiter at your next opportunity? Potential employers use your social media presence to assess your suitability. You have to keep this in mind at all times and act professionally. Keep your phone in your pocket and move on.

Apply for the role again through a recruitment agency

Whilst recruitment consultants can make a huge difference to your application, they cannot generally reverse a decision that has already been made. A number of years ago I enthusiastically submitted a candidate for a role only to find that the candidate had already been through the process with that company unsuccessfully. Despite questioning the candidate about the role and the company, assurances were given that this company had not been approached. It causes a lot of issues for all concerned when this happens, and nobody wins, especially not the candidate. Now this could have been an act of desperation on the part of the candidate, or perhaps the person had simply forgotten that they had applied, which goes back to our previous post about keeping a record of all applications. Either way, credibility is lost and it’s unlikely that a future application would be welcomed.

Send in a detailed letter rebuffing the feedback

Whilst you may think that you’re the best person for the role, you have to trust that the company knows what it is doing and has made the best decision for its needs. I have seen candidates put together detailed letters or emails listing the reasons why a miscarriage of justice has occurred, then sending these to the recruiter, the hiring manager or worse the managing director of the company. Even if you think your arguments are valid, taking this approach can only worsen your chances with future opportunities. Even if eloquently put, your letter is still basically saying that the person you are writing to does not know their job, which is never going to be well received. Accept the decision and concentrate your energy on your next opportunity.

Give up

The worst thing you can possibly do is to become disheartened with your job search. It takes sustained effort to get the job you really want and to move forward in your career. Don’t let a knockback dictate the outcome of your efforts. It’s normally just at the point where you feel most demotivated that things start to happen. Don’t quit with the end in sight, keep going and you will get there. The more opportunities you pursue, the quicker you will land a new role. What’s more, you’ll learn loads from the disappointments and rejections which will help you to secure future roles.

To summarise

Losing out on a job is never going to be nice, but you can take the experience and learn from it, or you can let it affect you negatively. Always trust that the company you have applied to knows what it is doing and has made a balanced decision. Write down the feedback you receive, clarify any points you are unsure of, review the feedback and act upon it. Make changes to your CV, tailor your responses to interview questions, or even take a course to fill in a gap in your experience or knowledge. Definitely do not take to social media to rail against the perceived injustice, don’t try to get in through the back door by using a recruiter, don’t write a 50 point list as to why you should have got the job, and most importantly, never, ever give up. Keep going, tweak your approach and you will land the job that is right for you. Please comment below and share your experiences.

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Five ways to greatly increase your chances of getting a new job

When you decide it’s time to move on from your current employer, you probably know that it becomes a job in itself. There’s the research, the applications, dealing with recruiters (both agency and in-house), interviews, offers, negotiations, the list goes on. So how can you make your life, and your job search, easier and less stressful?

  1. Plan your search

When looking for a new role, it’s critical that you have a plan and that you follow it. Going at it half-heartedly or taking a random approach can only lead to frustration, and ultimately a result that you may not be happy with. So, sit down and do your research. Work out which companies you want to work for and why. Identify and contact good recruiters that can give you an edge. Think about any contacts at target companies who can help you. List out your skills and your achievements. Tailor your CV to each role. When you’ve done all that, make sure the information is captured somewhere.

  1. Use a spreadsheet

You’d be surprised how easy it is to get muddled when there are lots of things going on in your search, especially when your current job is demanding and busy. Start a spreadsheet and use it to record all your research, applications and everything else mentioned in point one. Store the spreadsheet in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere on any device. If someone calls you and you can’t remember the details of the role you applied for, it’s perfectly acceptable to say, ‘can I call you back in five minutes?’ then spend a few minutes looking at your spreadsheet to refresh your memory. If you sound vague or can’t remember applying, it will dent your chances.

  1. Prepare for the interview

There will be a more comprehensive post dedicated to this specific subject soon; in the meantime here’s an overview. If you’re using a recruitment consultant then it goes without saying that you should be the best prepared candidate in the process. If you’re not, then you need to ask your consultant some serious questions. If you’ve applied directly then you need to find out as much as you can before attending the interview. First of all you must research the company and the role fully. This is easier than it has ever been with so much information available online. The company website is an obvious place to look as are news sites, trade publications and review sites such as Glassdoor. You need to understand the company, what it does, what its values are, who are the key people? Look at the other roles the company is recruiting for. What is the company looking to achieve? Research the interviewer as well. Check out their LinkedIn profile, you may find you both worked at the same company previously, or you have a shared interest outside of work.

You need to find out the structure of the interview process and how many stages there are. Again if you’re using a recruiter you should know this. If not then contact the company and ask the question. Is this going to be a competency based interview? Will there be a presentation? Do you need to take anything with you? Hopefully this will have been made clear, but it’s always good to check if you’re unsure.

  1. Impress at the interview

You have prepared for this, so you should be relaxed and upbeat. Some pre-interview nerves are normal so don’t worry. Remember that this company is interested in you, otherwise you wouldn’t be there. In addition, the person you’ll meet actually wants to hire someone so you have as much chance as any other candidate. You already know about things such as eye contact, firm handshake and a smile so we don’t need to cover that. You must be enthusiastic, and this goes back to your research. Being generally enthusiastic is a given. You should be enthusiastic about where the company is going, the latest product launch, or the big win that has just been announced. Your enthusiasm must be about specific things. Be calm, speak slowly and clearly, and consider your responses. The interview will fly by from your point of view, so you must take your time to get your points across in a rational and professional manner.

Before the interview concludes, ask questions. If you don’t you will seem disinterested. You should have questions already prepared and they should be insightful. It’s fine to ask about prospects and future plans, but make them relevant to the company. Instead of asking, ‘what plans does the company have to grow?’ why not try asking, ‘I read that the company is moving into emerging markets. How is this role going to contribute to those efforts?’ Everyone asks the same questions, so you have to stand out. Make sure also to test the water by asking about the next interview stage, or the decision making process, this shows you are interested.

  1. Follow up

There are mixed views on this, but I believe that a friendly follow up email is polite and courteous. Thank the person for their time and say you enjoyed the meeting. That’s all you need to say. Never, ever list the ‘ten reasons’ why you should get the job. The interviewer knows what they are looking for and pushing your views onto them will only weaken your chances. If you’re using a recruiter, then you should phone straight after the interview to give your thoughts. If you feel you missed something out, then your recruiter may be able to drop this into their follow up conversation. Contact the company if you haven’t heard within the given timescale. You’ll probably be looking elsewhere so you need to know where you stand. There’s nothing wrong with dropping your contact a line and asking when things will be resolved. Don’t hassle people though and never call before the date you were given for a decision; that won’t do you any favours.

If you get the job, fantastic, keep in touch and make sure you understand what happens next and whether there is anything you need to do before joining. If you’re unsuccessful, then there are two ways to go, but only one of them is going to enhance your credibility. We’ll cover this in our next blog post. Thanks for reading and good luck with your job search.

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