May 2020

The Phone Call:

You have a superlative CV and LinkedIn profile. You are busy applying for work through recruitment agencies, Indeed, and

On Tuesday afternoon, a recruitment agent phones you to say, “XYZ plc would like to interview you for the role of purchasing manager. Are you available to meet with Mr. Smith production director, and Ms. Jones HR manager at 2pm on Thursday afternoon?” You reply, “Yes I am available.”

The recruitment agent follows up with a confirmation email.

You have approximately 48 hours to prepare for the interview. How should you prepare?


Preparing for Your Interview:

It is vital that you approach interview preparation with a positive mindset. See yourself as the best candidate for the job. Anticipate the type of questions you will be asked at the interview. Many companies use competency based or behavioural based interviewing techniques to determine if you have the core skills they are looking for. Know your preferred style of working, and your key strengths and skills.

Take time to research XYZ plc online. Who are their main competitors? What differentiates XYZ plc from the competition? What are their core products or services? What is their annual turnover?

If there are any gaps on your CV anticipate a question, and have your answer prepared beforehand.


The Interview:

It’s Thursday afternoon. Make sure to arrive at XYZ plc ahead of time. When you are called for your interview, create a positive first impression. Smile and shake hands firmly with your interviewer.

Be aware of your body language and tone of voice. If you are an extrovert, ensure you control your energy level. You don’t want to appear as overpowering. If you are an introvert, you may need to increase your energy level. You don’t want to give the impression of being too timid.

When an interviewer asks you a question, pause before you speak. You will give the interviewer a favourable impression of you, because you are seen to think before you speak. Don’t pause too long though. The interviewer will get the impression you are searching for answers to their question and you have not prepared adequately.

The interviewer may ask you some open ended questions like “Tell me all about yourself in 2 minutes” to get you to relax and engage in a conversation. Use the 2 minutes to the fullest extent to describe yourself as a professional person, your achievements, and career goals.

The interviewer will then move on to more structured competency based questions. When answering these questions, use the STAR technique. Outline the situation you were involved in. Describe the task you were asked to complete. Outline what actions you took to complete the task. Finally explain the results of your actions.

If you are being interviewed by a panel of people, what should you do? Make initial eye contact with the person who asked you the question. Then scan from one face to the next, remembering to pause briefly and include the other panel members. Then return your attention to the person who asked the question to conclude your answer.


Concluding the Interview:

Competency based interviews usually last for one hour. It is normal for interviewers to say, “Have you any questions you would like to ask”?

This is an opportune time to show you have done research on XYZ plc. Ask strategic questions about XYZ plc and the business sector they compete in. This proves you are capable of analysing information and asking key questions.

When the interview has concluded smile and shake hands firmly with each member of the interview panel.

Second Round Interviews:

Many companies use competency based interviews to select a small number of candidates for a second round interview with senior management. Second round interviews can be more “full on”, to see how you cope under pressure, and if you can think on your feet.

The person with responsibility for deciding who gets appointed as purchasing manager of XYZ plc, may place a greater emphasis on interpersonal skills compared to technical ability. Therefore, it is vital that you create a positive first impression and connect with the interviewer.


Without doubt, the jobs market is going to tighten post the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers will soon be able to draw from a larger pool of well qualified candidates for key roles. If you would like to prepare well for a job interview, please call me. I will be happy to guide you based on my own experience. I look forward to hearing from you.

The Jobs Market:

At the beginning of 2020, economic and political commentators said that the economy of the Republic of Ireland was at or close to full employment.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic sent shock waves through the world economy. 12% of the workforce in Ireland is forecasted to be unemployed by the end of 2020. The jobs market is set to become an employers’ market.

If you are between jobs, or you are a salaried person looking for a better job, you will need a curriculum vitae. Start with a clean slate. Create a CV that is worthy of your achievements and skillset. Aim to differentiate yourself from the competition.


Name & Contact Details:

I recommend you include the following personal details on your CV:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address

There is no requirement to provide personal information such as your date of birth, marital status, or nationality on your CV.

Summary Profile:

Customise the summary profile section of your CV to highlight key skills and personal attributes that are pertinent to the job you are applying for. Your profile statement needs to describe you as a professional person. It needs to be punchy and succinct. Describe the type of work environment you thrive in. Ensure your key skills are in alignment with your achievements.


Employment History:

Outline your employment history in reverse chronological order. Starting with your current or most recent job, use active verbs and bullet points when describing your main achievements.

State your employers name, job title, and start & end dates.

If you are an experienced professional person who is considering applying for a senior management role, you will need to demonstrate a track record of achievement, and increased responsibility. Your people skills will be crucial to a successful job application. Highlight these skills in your achievements.


The information you provide in the education section will depend on your professional experience. If you are a chartered engineer of many years standing with a degree in civil engineering, there is no need to mention your secondary school education. Your work experience is more pertinent.

Job applicants with less than 5 years’ work experience would benefit from providing greater detail about their education. Employers may seek to employ young people with high potential and develop them into well rounded professionals.


Voluntary Roles, Interests & Hobbies:

If you are a young professional person, include any voluntary roles or interests you may have on your CV. It gives potential employers the impression you are a sociable and responsible individual.

Other points:

Your CV should be a maximum of 2 pages in length. Tailor your CV to the specific requirements of each job you apply for. There is no need to provide the names and contact details of referees on your CV. Employers will ask you for references when they offer you a job.


If you are between jobs, or you would like to move to a better job, and you need help to write a winning CV, I would be happy to give you some advice based on my own experience. We live in uncertain times. The least we can do is support one another. My contact details are on this page. Any information you share will remain confidential.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is mandatory for some employees with professional qualifications like chartered accountants, doctors, solicitors, teachers etc. I completed several CPD courses as a finance manager with a multi-national company. The CPD helps you to be more productive, further your career and improve your income, which, at my time, were all the benefits I failed to grasp. I was focusing more on developing the skills I already had and was reluctant to learn new skills. I had a wrong mindset for which I paid a high price!

Thankfully, I have my own business today where I help other professionals to achieve their career goals by showing them how to avoid the same mistakes that I made. So, let me show you three ways to develop your career with CPD.


Be Strategic in Your Thinking

Some might know their weakness and choose to ignore them, while others might need someone to point it to them, which is why your annual performance appraisal is very important, because the report will help you to identify your areas of strength and weakness.

By aligning your CPD to the weak points in your annual review, you are filling gaps in your knowledge and skills to become more productive and efficient. Not only does this make you a candidate for promotion, but it makes you more employable to outside offers. Make no mistake of thinking you will be promoted or get a better job without proofs that you have grown in your current job.


Find New Courses

If your goal is to climb the organisational ladder to the top, then your soft skills development is key. Have a chat with your line manager or the HR department before committing to a study a course. They are there to help you by pointing you in the right direction. Besides, being ambitious is great!

I am not saying this would automatically lead to a job promotion, but if you embrace a growth mindset and learn to embrace change, you will gain the confidence and credibility to stand out from the crowd and be ready for great opportunities. Life is all about growth!


Take Voluntary Roles

There are benefits in taking voluntary roles at your current job. It is a great way of developing your leadership skills. It will also make your resume look more robust. Ask your line manager and the HR for opportunities to take voluntary roles. Take challenges and do not wait to be asked. Prove to them that you are ready!

When your CPD course is over, ensure you apply what you learned to your job. Keep your manager in the loop. All going well, what your manager perceived as a weakness in you, they will now regard as a strength.

I wish you good luck in your choice of CPD courses.

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