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I have organised thousands of job interviews for candidates during my career. If only I had a penny for each time a good candidate ruined a job interview by asking the wrong questions – or worse, not even asking any at all!
The problem is that most candidates don’t seem to prepare for the inevitable interview question: “Do you have anything to ask us?”
Great candidates ask questions because they’re evaluating the interviewer and the company– and whether they really want the job. How you ask these questions may make or break the outcome of your interview.
Here are five questions great candidates ask:
1. What do you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?
Great candidates want to hit the ground running. They don’t want to spend weeks or months “getting to know the organization.” They want to make a difference–right away. And they want to show the interviewer that they have thought about how they will achieve this.
2. What are the common attributes of your top performers?
Great candidates also want to be great long-term employees. Every organization is different, and so are the key qualities of top performers in those organizations. Maybe top performers work longer hours. Maybe creativity is more important than methodology. Maybe constantly landing new customers in new markets is more important than building long-term customer relationships. Maybe it’s a willingness to spend the same amount of time educating an entry-level customer as helping an enthusiast who wants high-end equipment.
Great candidates ask this because they want to know if they fit, and if they do fit, what will make them a top performer.
3. What are a few things that really drive results for the company?
Employees are investments, and every employee should generate a positive return on his or her salary. (Otherwise why are they on the payroll?) In every job some activities make a bigger difference than others. Great candidates want to know what truly makes a difference. They know that by helping the company succeed, they succeed as well.
4. What do employees do in their spare time?
Happy employees like what they do, and they like the people they work with. This is a difficult question for an interviewer to answer. Unless the company is really small, all any interviewer can do is speak in generalities. But this candidate wants to make sure they have a reasonable chance of fitting in, and that is a very important quality.
5. How do you plan to deal with…?
Every business faces a major challenge: technological changes, competitors entering the market, shifting economic trends, etc. And well-informed candidates will be aware of all the risk factors. They hope for growth and advancement. If they do eventually leave, they want it to be on their terms and not because the company was forced out of business.
For example: I’m interviewing for a position at your bike shop. Another shop is opening less than a mile away: How do you plan to deal with the new competitor? Or you run a poultry farm: What will you do to deal with rising feed costs?
A great candidate doesn’t just want to know what the prospective employer thinks; they want to know what the prospective employer plans to do – and how they will fit into those plans.
Asking questions like these will help you stand out from the crowd, proving your real interest in the job and the company. Hopefully, the answers will also give you a pretty good idea of whether the role and company is right for you or not.
There is nothing quite like a new beginning!
I am delighted to announce the relaunch of Cathy Richardson Associates during January 2014.
With a new strapline of Resource, Recruit, Retain we will take steps beyond what is normally expected from Recruiters.
Resource: Away with Just-in-Time recruitment! Instead of waiting for recruitment needs to arise within our client companies before we react, we will pre-empt hiring needs. We will work with our clients to understand growth plans, recruitment strategies, medium and long-term business challenges, and any other elements that may impact on how our clients’ people strategies may change. We will build talent networks, generate market maps and identify key talent in our core markets so that we can advise pro-actively on market dynamics. We will help build employer branding and assist our employers of choice to develop the most attractive candidate attraction and recruitment strategies to maximise opportunities in the skills short jobs market.
Recruit: Away with outdated tactics! We will actively work with our clients to generate efficient, targeted recruitment campaigns based on a range of social and conventional methodologies to make sure we find the best possible candidate shortlists. We will engage actively with our candidates to make sure they enter into only the best-fit recruitment processes. We will manage these processes for and with our clients, using state-of-the-art psychometric and assessment centre technology to make sure that objective hiring decisions are made. We will work with all parties to make sure that the most positive contractual negotiations are achieved, and that referencing and due diligence takes place in all directions to ensure positive outcomes.
Retain: Away with one hit wonder recruitment! We want the candidates we place to stay with our clients. We want their jobs to turn into careers. We want our clients to build loyal, stable workforces where people are valued and developed. That is why we will work with our clients and their workforces to help with coaching, mentoring, honest broking, advising and ensuring that communication is outstanding. We will actively work with our clients to retain their people. This will help us build employer brands for returning to the resourcing cycle.
Core markets: We have built a reputation for recruiting successfully into the Sales, Service and Commercial arenas. As in the past, we will continue to focus on the manufacturing and techno-commercial distribution markets. This includes Manufacturing, Automotive and Distribution. We will work with Sales, Marketing and Commercial teams to bring the best possible teams of people together to ensure commercial success. This ranges from graduate or entry-level, through regional management and culminates in recruiting at MD, Director or Senior level.
Certainly, new beginnings are full of risk but as the economy continues to improve and the skills shortage bites even more, we look forward to wonderful things!
This has been a year of change and challenge in more areas than one. Everyone seems tired, slilghtly worn out and certainly ready for the Christmas break, when no doubt we will all recharge our batteries with festive fare and a lovely rest before starting back in 2013 with a newly refreshed drive and attitude.
Thankfully, the economy seems to be settling at last and hopefully, that will signal positive things for the job market. Lets hope the candidate shortage doesn’t continue to bite!
I would like to wish all my current and past clients, candidates, business contacts and friends a restful and plentiful Christmas, and a 2013 that defies all expectations for success and positivity.
Wishing you fun, frolic with fanciful festivities and a truly memorable end to 2012.
For our lovely festive e-card, please click here and enjoy!
Following the unexpected passing of my father in South Africa, I would like to extend my heartfelt thank to my friends, acquaintances, clients and candidates for all the heartfelt messages of condolence and support I received.
The loss of a parent is an inevitable but heartbreaking fact of life. But when family are on the other side of the globe, it makes coping with the loss so much more difficult.
I had no choice but to get on a plane to South Africa as soon as I heard the news to be with my family. Although I did put interim measures in place I would like to apologise if calls and emails have not been answered over the past 2 weeks. Responsive service is always very important to me, but at this time my focus simply had to be elsewhere for a short time.
I have been really humbled by the generous responses I have received from most quarters, and I am truly grateful to be held in such high regard by so many people who took the time to offer their support and best wishes in such a sad time for me.
Hopefully, it will be back to business as normal from now on.
It makes sense that the CONTENT of your CV is what gets you the interview, not the STYLE of it. Obviously, the person who reads your CV wants to see what you did, how did it, how long for and what you achieved in each role. Anything that detracts from that, detracts from your chances of being considered.
When you apply for a job, you would want your CV to cause the least bit of disruption to internal systems, so that it can get through to be seen by the decision maker. Formatting and trying to be overly creative with the appearance of your CV can shoot you in the foot.
In this case, less is definitely more! The best advice on formatting is always to go for a simple Word based CV, with ordinary spacing and using bold typeface to highlight important bits.
1. Ordering of dates
Always start with the most recent first. Reverse chronology of dates means the reader has to scroll all the way down to the bottom of your CV to get to your relevant experience. They may get bored and decide to look at another CV instead!
2. CVs saved as PDF
Your CV is likely to be stored on a database if you approach an agency. They would probably want to reformat it to suit their particular style. If your CV is saved as PDF, it is not possible to effect quick changes. Some databases don’t accept PDF at all as a document format. At best, it will need to be reformatted either by the database itself, or by an administrator, which means you will lose all the clever formatting anyway. At worst, your CV might just be discarded.
Using complex tables in your CV might look good and help you to sort the information, but often emailing or storing tables disrupt the formatting. And if your CV has to be reformatted to suit a recruiting client’s expectations, it can cause administrative headaches with tables that overrun pages, or tables that don’t fit into the set format. As for PDF’s, save yourself the risk of exclusion by going for simple and straightforward instead.
Believe it or not, I see many CVs that are written entirely in capitals. It is difficult to read, hugely challenging to reformat and simply not good English. Always make sure the capitalisation is correct. It reflects attention to detail, a good grasp of the written language and good presentation skills.
5. Multiple Colours
Recently, I saw a CV with all the text in red. It was amazingly difficult to read! Using too many colours, or even a single block colour, on your CV does not create the right impression. Go for simple black text on a white background – It creates the best professional impression.
6. Including logos and photographs
Don’t put the logos of past employers on your CV. You are selling your own skills, and that is what you should be focussing on.
As for photos: Just don’t do it! Unless you are in a performance related field such as acting, the way you look has nothing to do with the job you do. It distracts the reader from what is really important.
A large amount of text presented in a single block is very difficult to read. Space things out so that the reader is lead naturally through your experience. Use Bold type to separate different sections. For example: Place an employers name, dates and job title in Bold, and then follow that with a bulleted list of responsibilities and achievements in that particular role
8. Keep it standard
Finish off as you start. Make sure your CV has a uniform appearance, present information consistently in the same way (Spacing, typeface, etc) throughout to create a professional appearance. Anything different creates a haphazard appearance.
Recruiters find themselves in a complicated and often misunderstood role. Job seekers are attracted to their services and industry expertise – yet at the same time repelled by the seemingly fickle relationships, the possibility of failure and rejection, and worst of all – job opportunities that may never fully materialize.
Before working with a recruiter, job seekers need to come to terms with some very hard truths about themselves and the recruitment industry. Namely, not every candidate is created equal, and recruiters can’t always be miracle workers. Realizing this, candidates can move on and embrace recruiters for what they realistically have to offer. Below you’ll find some un-doctored truths about recruiters – what they can and cannot do, and what it means for job seekers. For starters…
- Recruiters have commitments to their clients: The recruitment agency’s clients are composed of companies and organizations that have hired them to fill open positions. Although a recruiter may want to help you with all their heart, if you’re not a good fit for their requisitions, they can’t do anything for you (at the time). What this means is that recruiters have long memories, and when a position does come along that fits your profile, you can bet that you’ll be first to know.
- Recruiters know the job market: Recruiters who are truly dedicated to their craft will be able to offer small tidbits of wisdom to help you along in your job search. If a recruiter recommends you make an adjustment to your CV or suggests you present your experience in a certain light to better fit an opportunity – you’d be wise to listen to them. On the other hand, know that recruiters are not babysitters or career coaches…
- A recruiter is only as good as his/her candidates: The Internet is awash with criticisms of recruiters for their inability to place every sad excuse of a candidate that walks through their door. Recruiters are not miracle workers. They can’t shine you up, cover up your imperfections and toss you into your dream job. If you’re not qualified for a position, the recruiter can only do so much.They don’t create jobs, but they can be “hubs” of invaluable market knowledge and career networking.
Finally, know that working with recruiters requires mutual effort and understanding. A good recruiter will put in the extra effort for you, if you do the same for them. When working with recruiters, try to return their calls in a timely manner, be professional and presentable, go on interviews they set up, and always exercise honesty and integrity.
As with many practices in business, you get what you put in. If you call a recruiter only when you desperately need a job and then act frustrated when they don’t find you a job in a day, they aren’t going to want to help you as much. Again, recruiters can’t make a company hire you, but they are selling; if they like you and believe in your skills, they will be that much more effective at selling you to the company