James Kenealey HR
It’s a scenario that’s familiar to most people. You’ve updated your CV with your latest experience and skills.
You’ve crafted the perfect cover letter. You’ve shortlisted several roles that you can imagine yourself working in. You submit your application and wait. Then, nothing. At all.
The loud silence that can follow applying for a job can be frustrating to say the least, particularly if you aren’t currently in a role. It’s very easy to feel demoralised.
Here are some tips for improving your job interview success rate:
Do your research
It’s important that you do your research on both the nature of the role and the organisation itself before applying.
Firstly, the nature of the role itself may be different from company to company, with different expectations coming with the position. Have a look at similar roles with other companies to see how they compare. Look for elements that appear in these other roles but might not appear in the one you’re applying for. These extra little bits might present the opportunity for you to demonstrate extra capability.
It’s also usually obvious to a recruiter or hiring manager when a person has not done their homework on the organisation they claim to want to work for. It shows a lack of attention to detail and will likely trip you up in interviews. Do your homework. Knowing a bit about the latest developments in the businesses can be a great conversation starter for your interview, too.
"It's important that you research both the role and the organisation. Do your homework."
Be selective and creative
Spam-applying for any role that vaguely seems within your skill set might sound like a sure-fire way of maximising your job interview success rate. In reality, this can be a huge waste of time and resources. Not only will your enthusiasm for searching for a job be diminished by this repetitive, thankless task, it also won’t necessarily mean a higher chance of getting an interview or an offer. Plus, hastily filled out job applications often lack that spark and hiring managers can often tell when someone has merely applied for a role because it’s ‘there.’
Instead, be more selective about what you want to apply for and take the time to really craft your case for why you deserve an interview. Going above and beyond at this early stage is sure to make you stand out from a crowd – and being noticed among a potentially huge pile of similar CVs and applications is the first battle.
For example, if you’re applying for a marketing role, take the time to put together a short presentation about how you see the organisation’s brand evolving, or how you would extend their social reach, even if the application criteria doesn’t include this. It might take a bit of preparation and time invested but it’s guaranteed to separate you from the multitude of other, more ‘by-the-books’ submissions.
"If you haven't already got a LinkedIn, you really should get one."
Utilise your network
We’re fortunate to live in the most connected world ever, and this is much the same when it comes to job hunting. If you haven’t got one already (and you really should), create a LinkedIn and connect with as many people as you can. Start with current and former colleagues and then go from there. Ask your network for recommendations (though if you’re currently in a role and you haven’t handed your notice in, it’s not advisable to publicly state you’re looking for work on your profile or status). Recommendations are a great way of hearing about roles and also give you the added advantage of being able to make a personal introduction to accompany your application.
Go straight to the hiring manager
When faced with innumerable CV’s, hiring managers are often looking for something that sets you apart from the mountain of other applications in the system. Often, a personal introduction can help. When researching the business (and I stress, you really do need to do your research) find out who is likely to either be your line manager or hiring manager. Drop them a line on LinkedIn or email to introduce yourself.
It’s important to caveat this point with: do not harass people. If you haven’t heard back or don’t receive a reply from your approach, it’s best not proceed with your approaches. There’s nothing likely to put a hiring manager off a candidate than the feeling that they’re being stalked by them. Once is enough.
"A brief note of regards demonstrates that you have connected on a personal level with the interviewer."
Follow up after the interview
Once you land the interview and successfully get through it, you might think the job is done and that it’s down to fate whether or not you land the role. But the process doesn’t have to stop there.
Simply sending a brief note of regards to your interviewer demonstrates that you’ve connected on a personal level and that this wasn’t just another in a string of interviews that you’re attending blindly. At this point you might have even decided that the role isn’t for you. Either way, a courtesy email is a great touch and makes sure you are well thought of in the eyes of a recruiter or hiring manager, and you never know if your paths will cross again…
Also be sure to follow up after an interview with additional information that you might have discussed. When I applied for my most recent job, a conversation arose in the first interview about other skills outside of the job specification I might have. A quick email with some examples of content later and not only did I secure a second interview, but I was also offered an altered, more varied and engaging position at a slightly increased salary.