Quick CV Dropoff
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This session has once again prompted us to share answers to some excellent questions asked during the workshop.
A: Firstly, here is a link to more information about the STAR technique, which is a commonly used formula for preparing the best answers to competency-based interview questions.
S – Situation
T – Task
A – Action
R – Result
In the absence of a person specification, you could do the following:
A: The internal language used in organizations can vary. You might get a sense of this from the website or the job description itself. For example, do they use quite formal, academic language? If they do, it might be okay to sound a little ‘textbook’. If, however, the tone is fairly informal, you might want to avoid using too many theoretical phrases. Saying that, the answer is probably somewhere in between. You want to give the impression that you are experienced at a leadership level and have had the relevant training, but you also want to use examples and language that speak more to a real-life approach to management. Use language that most authentically reflects you and your style. You could even use quotes from current/past colleagues or appraisals that evidence your leadership and management style.
A: With this question, it is really important to personalize the answer to the specific role or organization. Pick out 2 or 3 aspects of the role/organization that really appeal to you. This feedback often comes up if the organization is worried about you becoming bored too quickly and then moving on, so try to demonstrate what it is that would keep you engaged and interested in the role and/or organization. Consider whether there is something in the job description that you haven’t done before and are keen to learn/improve on. Alternatively, you could explain that the organization is larger than your current one or that you will be challenged by learning and getting exposure to new projects, for example.
A: This is not very helpful feedback, unfortunately. For this feedback to be more constructive, you would ideally want examples of answers that lacked the strategic element. We would, however, suggest that if you are applying for a role where strategy will be a focus (usually a more senior role), then cover off both the strategic and practical elements of what you did. Ensure that you put some emphasis on the vision and your ability to plan forward strategically. You can do this by explaining how you put the strategy together, how you implemented it, monitored and measured outcomes, and the role you played. You may need to focus a little more on the strategy element by talking through exactly how you developed the strategy. It is, however, impossible to do this without covering actions, process, and tactics, so it is very likely a blend of both.
A: Take some time to gather your thoughts, allow some uncomfortable silence (it feels worse than it is in reality). Re-focus by controlling your inner voice, which is likely to be negative, and bring yourself back into the moment by noticing something visible on the interviewer’s face, the color of their eyes or hair, for example. Have a glass of water with you, so that you can break for a sip and gather your thoughts. You could also ask the interviewer to repeat the question, which might be all it takes for you to come up with a suitable answer. If you really find the question difficult and do not have an answer, then we would suggest you are open about this, rather than attempt to give an answer under pressure that you might regret later.
A: This is a great question, and certainly a new challenge in the remote working world we find ourselves in now. The best way to do this is through research online, trying to find anyone you could talk to who may already work there or has in the past. You can also ask your Consultant for any information they might have on the organization. If this aspect is very important to you, you could opt for, or request, a face-to-face interview. Unless a role is geographically always going to require remote working due to the location, it is quite likely that the organization will have a face-to-face element as part of the process. Commonly, this face-to-face stage is usually the second interview or a ‘meet the team’ stage.
A: The likelihood is that they would have seen the maternity leave noted on your CV already. If you just leave it out and there is a gap that they ask you about, then yes, we would always encourage candidates to be open and confident about maternity/paternity/adoption, etc. leave. We do, however, suggest that candidates include this on their CV, as raising a family or caring for a loved one accounts for a constructive and important part of your life and overall experience. In relation to redundancy, this usually comes up when an employer explores your reasons for leaving a role, and again, we would suggest being open about any redundancy situations.
It is worth noting, however, that you are under no obligation to share any information you are not comfortable with (obviously, there are certain roles that will require certain disclosures based on legislation).
A: We haven’t come across this issue and don’t have any examples of situations where a request for an adjustment has led to a negative outcome. Usually, we find that organizations are happy to make adjustments and offer the required support, particularly in the context of a disability or health condition, which is a legal requirement anyway.
If an organization in any way demonstrates a concerning attitude towards a request for an adjustment or support, then it would certainly highlight the need to consider whether the organization is inclusive and one that you could see yourself working for.
A: This is a real challenge for both the candidates and the agency. Most agencies try very hard to get feedback for candidates, and good organizations are usually forthcoming with this because they understand the importance for both the candidate and the reputation of their organization. Occasionally, however, this feedback is simply not forthcoming, and agencies are then not able to pass on information they do not have. If you have applied directly, you could contact the hiring manager or recruitment team directly for feedback or draft a request for feedback that the agency could pass on for you. Rest assured, however, that it is in the agency's best interest to get and pass on this feedback. At TPP, we really do believe that if a candidate has taken the time to interview for an organization, they deserve some feedback on why they didn’t get the role.