How to: Prepare your CV & Interviews

With Christmas around the corner, I can imagine that lots of young people are on the hunt for seasonal work (if you haven’t already bagged yourself a job!). Graduate programmes have opened and students are spending hours on applications! I recently had an interview in a very prestigious company. With the label in mind, I was extremely nervous. I was worried I wouldn’t leave a lasting impression. I feared the kind of questions they could ask. I felt totally unprepared for something I had spent days researching.

Luckily, my interview was a success. Some might say it was a breeze. I’d prepared nearly every single question they asked me so I do not know why I was so worried. Then it dawned on me. Nearly every single business are going to ask you the same questions. Questions that are so easy to answer but so difficult to put into words when left on the spot. I’ve decided to lend a supportive hand to those preparing for an upcoming interview, or for someone who might want to dicky up their CV, or even for someone who’s worried about how to visually impress your interviewer. I’ve listed some tips below on how to leave an impression in a business from my experience.

Your CV and Cover Letter

CV’s and Cover letters are your greatest asset when trying to get your foot in the door of any business. Once your CV is in check, the rest is easy. It’s easier to make a lasting impression in person than on paper. When writing a CV, remember to keep your points sharp. Try to avoid the bare ramblings of why you volunteered for dog rescues or what your favourite thing about working in retail is. Keep the interests you wish to heighten for your cover letter.

My advice for a CV is, keep it between 2-3 pages long, maximum. I used to try and fit everything on to one page, but as my experience broadened, it was merely impossible (unless using microscopic font).

Begin your CV with a short description about yourself. If you’re looking to apply for a role in Finance, be sure to discuss your expertise in detail. Use buzz words and relatable language that your possible future employer will be impressed by.

A general CV will need your previous education, employment history and the varied skills you have. If you have lots of experience in volunteering, create a column designated to notes on your experience. If you hold diploma’s and certificates in First Aid Training or IT specialism, create another skilled department for these outlets. Use absolutely every asset of your life and mash it into your cv.

Keeping your CV tidy and neat is really important. If you need further guidelines on the overall layout, don’t ever hesitate to google a basic CV. It’ll give you a general guideline on how to represent your cv professionally.

When applying to particular businesses, a cover letter is expected to be attached to your CV. They are generally expected when applying for specific positions. A huge factor when writing your cover letter is that you can tailor the message to suit the position you are looking to apply for. If the company have advertised the position online stating they are looking for someone with skills in team work and someone who is innovative, use their words to your advantage. Regurgitate them right back into your cover letter and tell them exactly why you believe you are the right match for the job. Tell them you are innovative. Promise them that you are a team leader! Remember to use formal language when addressing a company or employer, dating and signing the copy if possible.

Interviews: Outfits

Right, so you’ve been offered to go for an interview. What’s next? Wearing the right outfit says a lot. When approaching an interview, you want to dress in a professional manner. Throughout my years, I’ve always worn professional clothing, dressing my outfit with a unique touch. If this is something you wish to do, then don’t be afraid to stand out a little. Be mindful of bright colours and distracting visuals, but I think a dainty scarf or unique jacket can never go amiss, as long as it looks professional. Below I’ve drawn up some outfits currently in store that fit the fashion criteria when attending an interview!

Black Blazer, €34.55, New Look

Houndstooth check blazer, by Morgan., €105.07

Pinstripe Blazer, €40.23, New Look
Satin Shirt, €40.00, Topshop

Tunic Dress, €20.68, New Look

Tweed Co-Ord, €69.13, ASOS

Orange Co-Ord, €89.16, Y.A.S

The Interview

When arriving to an interview, it is important to deliver yourself as a sophisticated adult. Be polite, offer a handshake, and make sure to sit up right while being interviewed. What a lot of people fear is the various questions they may be asked on the spot. The big thing here is to prepare in advance. Make sure to scan your CV beforehand, leaving no room for your interviewer to throw you off. The next vital thing is to prepare for questions they might ask. Everyone has their own unique level of experience. Whether or not you have five years experience or none, the goal is to encourage the interviewer to believe that regardless of your experience, you’re the perfect asset to their entity. Below I have listed some of the most likely questions when entering a job. These questions may not always come up, but generally they do (depending on the route you’re taking).

The Questions

1. What encouraged you to apply for this role?

2. What makes you an important asset to our company?

3. Why should we hire you?

4. What can you bring to our company?

5. Give an example of a time you had trouble in the workplace and what you actions you took to repair the issue?

6. Tell us about a time you went the extra mile to help a customer or coworker, and what was the outcome?

7. Tell me about yourself

8. What are your strengths/weaknesses?

9. Name a time you exercised team work and leadership

10. What do you think needs improving in our company, and how would you go about improving it?

11. What attracted you to this company, and what can you tell us about it?

12. What qualities/values can you bring to this company?

13. Describe a time you were a team player.

14. What is your greatest achievement?

15. Do you have any questions?

Number 15 is the greatest question of all. Take some time to research a few questions you could ask at the end of your interview. Taking initiative at the end of an interview shows that you have interest and confidence. I recommend using this question to your own personal advantage. As for the rest of these questions, I have been asked each of these in nearly every interview I have ever been in. Prepare some answers in advance so you will not struggle. Don’t be shy, talking too much is never an issue. Just remember to smile and be courteous!

I hope my advice gives each of you a little confidence boost before applying for job, or before you sit an interview. I promise that after a while, it gets easier. I’ll never forget my first interview when I was just 17. It’s daunting, but employers do not bite! They’re giving you the opportunity to show off your skills and talk about how great you are. Use this time to make them love you and want to hire you immediately. Best of luck!