For some of us, the interview can be a scary and nerve-wracking event, but it’s something that we, unfortunately, can't avoid! Our best advice is to make sure you are prepared in every way possible - we will do our best to help you with that.
As long as you have taken the time to prepare for the interview and you know enough about the company and the role, you should be able to arrive feeling ready and confident! Interview processes vary depending on the company, but this is usually something the hiring manager or recruiter will outline to help you prepare the best way you can!
We interviewed our HR Manager, Mónica Senín, and asked her to share her expert tips and interview advice, revealing the best recruitment secrets - what recruiters like and what they don’t! Take advantage of this inside knowledge from Europe Language Jobs and you’ll become one step closer to landing your dream job!
1. CV tips
Order: One of the most common mistakes candidates make is when they structure their CV in the wrong order. It’s extremely off-putting when you open a candidate's CV and the CV isn’t in reverse chronological order - we always like to see the latest experience and education at the top. It makes us more likely to read it if it is structured the way we like it, so stick to the rules!
Keywords: Some candidates fail to put their individual tasks and responsibilities for their job roles. This is a common mistake and can really affect the likeliness of their CV being read. As we mentioned, by listing the different tasks and responsibilities, your CV will contain a selection of industry-related keywords that will help to boost the chances of your CV being read by us.
Photo: When it comes to adding a photograph to your CV, this is often country-specific but we’ve seen some extremely unprofessional photographs! Some candidates think that it’s a good idea to add photographs with their dogs, their friends, in their bathroom... it's not! We recommend sticking to the more professional-looking photograph, from the waist up with a plain, tidy background.
Contact details: Another thing that we experience a lot is when candidates add a phone number that doesn’t work. This can be extremely frustrating for us, especially when we find the ideal candidate! Make sure you check your CV multiple times and make sure it's up-to-date!
Format: One of the biggest mistakes is when a candidate sends a CV that is saved in an unusual file format, whether it’s a corrupted file that loses its structure, or a document that won’t open at all. Please, send your documents in PDF format to avoid these errors. Also, never send a photograph of your CV taken from a mobile phone or camera of a CV, we see this a lot and it's usually extremely hard to read and comes across as plain lazy!
When candidates are applying for a position here at Europe Language Jobs, I always enjoy opening a CV that contains a nice professional photograph of the candidate. It should have a good personal summary, outlining why they want to work for us, what their previous experiences are, and their tasks and responsibilities. CVs that contain all of this information show us a clear explanation of why you want to work with us. It shows that you have personalised your CV for the job role and that you have a genuine interest in the company. It's so much nicer to read a CV that is informative and descriptive rather than a generic and unclear one!
As I spend most days looking through CVs, it’s always nice to see a CV that is well structured with a clear design! These designs and templates are very easy to find on Google and although we don’t recommend just completely copying a CV template, it’s good to use these templates as a reference.
Remember, it's extremely easy for us to notice when the same generic CV has been distributed to loads of different companies - don't be lazy!
When we receive the CV, we take a quick look at it and decide if we think the person could be a good fit for the team. If this person appears to be a good match, we then call them for a short phone interview.
The call lasts around 15 minutes, and here we evaluate the energy, motivation, and reasons why they applied to the role. If a candidate claims that their dream is to be a painter, and they are applying for a sales role, we are not going to choose that candidate for obvious reasons! If it’s a contract role that we are applying for, we also evaluate your experience and talk this through with the candidate to understand their values and goals.
From this initial call, we then assess whether we think you would be a good match for the team. If this is the case, we'll invite you to the next stage of the interview process, for an interview with the Manager.
Please arrive 5 minutes early! If the recruiter is doing something at that moment, they can leave you in the waiting room for 5 minutes without feeling odd. Being too early can sometimes cause inconvenience, especially if we have a busy schedule that day.
Most importantly, please don't arrive late! If you do arrive late (even if it's 2 minutes), always apologise and give an explanation! We always appreciate a warning if you know you are going to be late...
What you wear depends on the company or the industry you want to work in. Try to conduct some research beforehand to see the general dress code of the company is or even ask during the phone interview!
Although we care more about your experience and your personality, we expect candidates to look professional when they arrive for an interview. For instance, we wouldn’t be impressed if a candidate showed up in a tracksuit for a job in Europe Language Jobs.
We’ve also had some interesting experiences in the past when candidates have brought along family members and friends to their interview. It looks a lot better from our side if you come to the interview alone - it shows that you are independent and mature. Bringing someone with you, such as your best friend, boyfriend, or parent, makes it come across as though you need support. Also, don’t bring your pets with you - this is extremely unusual but we’ve heard experiences in the past when candidates have brought theirs. This causes inconvenience for the company and at the end of the day, it looks extremely unprofessional.
It’s offputting when a candidate talks too much and doesn’t listen properly to the questions asked. It’s important to get to the point when you are answering questions and to avoid any waffling! It's also very annoying when a candidate doesn't hold eye contact and looks uninterested or bored, and it's even worse when a candidate uses their phone during the interview. Please, keep your phone on silent, in your bag, or in your pocket!
We don't like it when a candidate brags and brags about how good they are and how perfect they are for the role, with no facts or no explanations to support it! It comes across as though you haven’t prepared for the interview and as recruiters, this is something we can notice immediately!
One key mistake that a lot of candidates do is when they talk about their previous employer in a disrespectful way. This comes across as very negative and unprofessional. Even if you did have a bad experience, try to bring up the positives and the things you gained from that experience to appear respectful and appreciative.
One of the questions that receive the most offputting responses is the “What are your weaknesses, what do you need to improve?”. We often hear the same answer to this question over and over again, and it’s definitely an answer that you should all avoid... "My only weakness or personal improvement is that I need to stop being such a perfectionist!" Come on, we don’t believe that 90% of the candidates are perfectionists…Besides the fact that this is the most common answer that we hear, it comes across as though you can't evaluate yourself, and that you are not going to be very good at accepting feedback!
Please take some time to think about how you are going to answer the common interview questions.
One of the weirdest responses to that question was a candidate claiming that the only thing he needed to work on was ‘getting a girlfriend’. This isn’t a very appropriate answer and isn't work-related at all - this is why preparation is important!
At the end of the phone interview, when the recruiter asks you if you have further questions. The most important part here is how you ask the question. For example, a good approach would be to ask “what benefits and conditions are the company offering for this opportunity?” It’s a question that should be asked in a polite manner, at the right time. Demonstrate your values, experience, and why you want the job first, and then think about asking this question.
One last piece of advice - always ask questions! We like it when you ask questions at the end of the interview, closely related to the role and the company. Asking questions shows your genuine interest and that you have been listening properly to what we have been explaining throughout the interview process!
We hope that Monica's advice provides you with some key insights into what recruiters find impressive and what they find off-putting. This should demonstrate how much research, preparation, and effort you should be putting into your job searching process. At the end of the day, it’s the recruiter's job to decide if you are the perfect fit for the job or not and from experience, they can always tell who has prepared and who hasn’t!
Tomorrow we are wrapping up week 3 of the Challenge with your best assistant in the application process - a last-minute checklist! Double-checking is easy when your organisation is on-point!