At what stage does a job interview start? Does it start when you arrive at the appointed time and location. Does it start when you sit down and exchange pleasantries with the interview panel? When does it really start?
To respond to this question, I would like to suggest that we see the interview as starting at the time we read a job announcement. That is when the interview starts. Take advantage of using the job posting as an opportunity to frame potential interview questions. Treat the minimum requirements listed in the job posting as interview questions. Understand the job duties and use them to help you prepare for the actual interview.
Framing the job announcement as a job interview will also help to strengthen your application package. You will begin the interview process by responding to the ‘interview’ questions posed in the job posting.
For example, if producing monthly management reports is an activity required in the job duties, you would want to address this specific piece in your CV and in you cover letter. In your CV, it could show up in the professional summary at the top third of your marketing document as follows:
‘A meticulous professional with over 10 years’ of analysing and producing management reports presenting facts in a structured and consistent manner.’
In a cover letter, you could add few more details based on the requirements and responsibilities. It could read as follows:
‘I have program management skills and extensive experience in communicating effectively in spoken and written form. My communications skills and experience, include producing management reports to enhance business performance and profitability.’
Note that the keyword in this statement is ‘enhance’ which indicates the ultimate results of the applicant’s intervention.
Let us return to the CV. To capture this information in the work experience entry, you would provide a detailed account of how you used your management report production skills to enhance business performance and profitability. To ease the presentation of this information, you can apply the CARL/I model. This acronym stands for Challenge, Action, Result and Learning/Impact. Thus, you would present your work experience as follows:
Challenge: Was assigned as an analyst in the labour department to establish the source of discrepancies in staff wages.
Action: Set up a team of 3 to ……(What was the goal?). Produced a comprehensive report complete with cash flow statement and balance sheets that provided an accurate picture of the operations and company status.
Result: Streamlined the monitoring process which helped to reduce the amount of time spent on reconciling labour expenses.
Impact: Ensured that the organization was in line with industry averages.
The formula above would also be how an interview response would read: “I was assigned as an analyst in the labour department to establish the source of discrepancies in staff wages. In order to undertake this task effectively, I set up a team of 3 to ………………. (what was the goal?). As the team lead, I produced a comprehensive report complete with cash flow statements and balance sheets that provided an accurate picture of the operations and company status. This resulted in streamlined the monitoring process which helped to reduce the amount of time spent on reconciling labour expenses. As a positive externality, the effort ensured that the organization was in line with industry averages.”
What is key here is that when you begin preparing and practicing for the interview, you ensure that your responses are in line with and directly translate into how your past experience, competencies and skills can bring success to the position and the organization overall. So, whether you are applying for a job in international development or event the private sector, take advantage and use the job details and your application package to prepare you for the job interview. Besides, the interview questions will most likely be determined by information in your CV/Cover letter and the job requirements & competencies.
Good luck and happy job hunting!
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