Valuable insights on job interviews from our recruiter, Sarah
Be yourself, to get the job
As a recruiter, Sarah looks through up to 100 CVs a week. Here she gives you top tips for your interview.
In your work, you have already conducted more than 500 job interviews. What do most applicants do wrong?
They are not prepared enough, for example about the company, the area and the job they applied for. We do not expect people to know everything, but it does not help if you are not prepared. It shows that this can also affect day-to-day work. In the digital age, it is easy to get the information you need.
What do you think is the biggest mistake in a first job interview?
People can easily seem arrogant or pretentious if they have limited self-awareness. The key here is a good dose of self-confidence with the right amount of judgement. It also gets difficult if applicants speak poorly of their current or previous employers. I can only advise against this, as it is a question of loyalty. We then inevitably ask ourselves whether the person will talk about us like that too if they leave our firm. Of course, in any job there are things you do not like, but these can be mentioned in the right way during the conversation.
What do you look for in particular in a job interview?
The applicants should be careful not to use too many standard phrases, because we of course want to get to know the candidates and do not want any “textbook answers”. We find out what a person is really like at the latest when they start the job – so lots of polished answers in the interview are less than helpful.
Many applicants also think that the only point of a job interview is to present themselves in the best possible way to attract the employer’s attention. They forget that they also have the same right to find out whether they are a good fit and whether the job is right for them. Preparation is therefore essential and the candidates should consider in advance what information is important to them. By the end of the conversation, you should know as an applicant whether you can imagine yourself working for the company. In the end, you must feel comfortable in your new job.
People spend so much time in the office these days that the social element and the working atmosphere should not be underestimated.
At Deloitte, we normally always give candidates the chance to have lunch or coffee with their potential future colleagues. This is kept informal – no one from Human Resources or their future manager are there. Our aim here is to see whether we and the candidates have the same expectations. If this is not automatically offered by the employer, I would advise candidates to ask directly about it.
You look at roughly 100 cover letters and CVs each week. What do you look for in particular?
On first glance, I see whether the layout is right. Different fonts or colours should be avoided. Then it is down to the traditional things: an overview of career, education, relevant skills. As we have about 30 seconds per CV it makes life easier for both recruiters and applicants if availability, workload and salary expectations are included straight away too. The key elements should be clear at first glance and there should be a common thread throughout. Gaps in employment history are not a problem, but should be explained in the CV. For foreign nationals, we ask that the person includes their work permit.
What additional advice would you give to people who are applying for a job?
Interest and motivation are key in the job application process. Time and again we receive cover letters and can see immediately that they have been sent to umpteen companies. That should definitely be avoided. Make the effort and write an individual letter that relates to the job opening in question and explains why you are a good fit for it. Put that together with a strong, clear CV, and you will have a good chance of launching your career!