Getting the Interview

Just like every other job applicant, you finally decided to brush up your CV, made sure you attended to all the tiny details and then decided to send it off to the races. Indeed, Glassdoor, Monster, you sent your resume to all these job portals for your favourite companies. After the first thirty applications, you did not get a reply. But that’s fine. Rejection happens to everyone, right? So, you changed the font and made sure the margins were a bit more prominent. And then you started sending them out again. Now over seventy applications later, you still have no replies, and your morale starts failing. Like this Guy.

Or this one.

You wonder if you’re doing something wrong. Or is there just too much competition? Maybe you are just invisible to companies. And then, existential crisis, will I ever get a job? If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. Millions of candidates go through this every year. This article will go through:

  • Wrong mental models for the job search process
  • How to stand out from the other candidates
  • Why good candidates don’t get hired

Wrong mental models for the job search process

Before we even dive into the stress of a finding a job, ATS software, recruiters, LinkedIn, any of that…let’s take a deep breath and relax a little. The correct mindset towards the job hunt can influence your success or failure. There are too many candidates who, just because they came close to success and missed it, now look at it as a catastrophic failure. Just because an interview went wrong doesn’t mean that it’s all gone bad. Use the feedback from this interview to inform your future ones. Let us look for ways to reframe your mindset from incorrect ways of thinking.

The pandemic has changed the job market: Now, if you read this statement, you probably assumed the pandemic changed it for the worse. Now, we are not going to sugar-coat this, certain industries, especially travel and hospitality have been decimated by the pandemic. But be assured, the pandemic has opened global and local doors for entry point into international jobs. Due to the pandemic a lot more companies are willing to offer career flexibility, work from home opportunities and also remote working. This is a blessing as now you can apply to jobs abroad which were initially restricted to you for geographic reasons.

Stop delegating the job search: Sometimes, it can seem that you are doing a lot of work but not getting any results. But if you are just doing the same thing again and again, then your results will be the same they always are. A lot of candidates seem to think that if they have the right resume and just shoot it off several times, a job will pop out. You will have to own the job process. That means applying steadily, talking to recruiters, getting referrals, and following up. Stop delegating the job search to recruiters and algorithms.

Get really niche:

We know that it’s the pandemic and you probably just need ‘a’ job to survive’. However, do not be broad in your search and just try to appeal to everyone and everything. Niche down exactly what you are targeting, what salary range you need, the size of the company and the job title.

I would like to be placed as a Digital Marketing specialist within a mid-sized SaaS company at a salary of 40,000 Euros

I would like to work as a Brand Designer at a medium sized Design agency at a salary of 35,000 Euros

How to stand out from the other candidates

You have to understand that recruiters are also human. They don’t get pleasure out of rejecting our CV. In fact, recruiters often pray for a good candidate and if they really like someone, they may even skip some of the essential requirements for the job. However, they are also human and prone to bias. A tiny detail on your CV can make the difference between a hire/no-hire. There are three significant barriers between you and your dream job. Though job profiles vary across various positions in tech, these three layers are a vital part of any recruitment process. They are:

  1. CV Review: This is when your CV is quickly analysed with respect to the job which the recruiter must fill up. Usually, this filtering is done on LinkedIn or if the recruiter has a recruitment tool like LinkedIn recruiter.
  2. Screening Call: The screening call usually comes from the recruiter when he has found a candidate who he thinks is a good fit for the posted job. There are two types of screening calls. A. Scheduled calls B. Unscheduled calls
  3. Interview/Interviews: This usually comprises either one interview with the hiring manager at the company or multiple interviews for a highly technical job.

CV Review

As always once you get the fundamentals right you can then move to the job application process. So be sure to tailor your CV for your dream job and ensure that each section of the CV is relevant. Without this critical component, you will not move ahead to the next stage. If you are overwhelmed by the number of things you need to do to make a good CV, no worries. Ingenio Learning just released their newest product, a CV Review service. Be sure to sign up and get your CV reviewed with personalized feedback from the best recruiters in the market.

Messaging Recruiters

After your CV and LinkedIn profile is ready, it’s time to start being proactive and start reaching out to recruiters. There are several ways to do this.

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Business Email
  3. Video Messages

For a step-by-step account of how to do this on LinkedIn, kindly refer to our ‘Ultimate Guide to the Stamp 1 Irish Visa’ where we show you LinkedIn and email scripts to get call-backs.

Screening Call

Scheduled Calls

On this occasion what happens is that the recruiter typically emails the candidate and says that he will be calling at a certain day and time. If he asks when you are free, make sure you give him a time a day or so later. This is so that you can buy yourself enough time to make sure you go over every line of your CV so that you can answer any career questions the recruiter asks on the phone. The screening call is typically done to gauge the candidate’s communication skills. You don’t have to speak flawless English, but the recruiter wants to know how you conduct yourself in normal conversation.

Is your voice tonality aggressive or friendly?

Can you reasonably explain your career projects?

If you get a difficult question, can you think on your feet or do you get nervous?

Craft the narrative: Take your resume and try to read it from a recruiter’s perspective. Scan through it quickly and then close your eyes and try to recollect what impressions are left with you. This is what your recruiter does, scanning each CV in 10 – 15 seconds. Does your CV answer these questions?

  • Does your career show progress or growth?
  • If you changed industries in your career, do you have a good reason as to why?
  • If worked less than six months at a company, what made you leave?

Rehearse your answers: By this, I do not mean rote learning, where you memorize information without knowing how to apply it. This is your CV. Only you are the best at articulating what you have achieved over your career. Take your CV and try to grasp what the narrative is section by section.

Your profile: CV writing is different from speaking to a recruiter about your CV. You don’t want to repeat it word for word, but it would be useful to have the main points on the back of your mind. Think of it as an elevator pitch where you are selling yourself.

Work Experience: Since this is a scheduled call, it would be best to have a copy of your resume near you, in electronic or printed form. This is so that in case you forget; you can quickly refer to it for specific details. Here are ten typical recruiter questions. Make sure you have your answers ready for them.

– Are you still interested and available for the job?

– Can you tell me what attracted you to apply for this position?

– Here are the (3-4) key requirements for this job. Can you confirm – with specific details – that you meet these requirements?

– Can you tell me about where you are in your job search – and what you hope to accomplish?

– Describe your ideal working situation (work environment, hours, travel, and the like)

– What are your salary expectations? 

– What is your availability for an interview in the next week to 10 days?

– Is there anything else relevant to the job and your candidacy that we have not discussed that you want to discuss?

– What questions can I answer for you?

   Once you have a basic structure prepared for each of those questions, now it is time to practice. Try speaking out the answer and reading aloud. This just helps you get out of “brainstorming” mode where you keep thinking what to say next. Your job is to make the screening call as smooth as possible.

Mirror the Recruiter: The main thing about talking to someone on the phone is that they only have their ears to essentially judge your character, communication skills and personality. Usually when a recruiter calls you, he/she has already gone through your resume and knows the main points. Even though this is a professional call, there is no reason to be nervous. A recruiter who is on a screening call, is there because they think you are a good fit.

So be sure to follow phone etiquette. This means adapting your style based on the recruiter. This means that if the recruiter seems chatty and friendly, you can open up a bit and talk about general stuff. However, If the recruiter seems brisk, you limit your answers to the point. Try to match your voice to the tempo of their speech.

Be clear on the job description: If the recruiter scheduled a screening call after you applied for a particular job description then make sure that you know what the key skills are that the employer is looking for. Make sure you have a narrative for how you match those skills by talking about a couple career projects that match it.

Salary Questions at the Last: Do not ever make the mistake of discussing salary first unless the recruiter brings it up. By focusing too much on the salary and not what you will be doing at the job, the recruiter could get the idea that you are only leaving your current job for the salary which means when you get a better offer you will leave immediately for that offer which is not a good sign. Only raise the salary question at the end if the recruiter hasn’t mentioned it all throughout the call.

Unscheduled Calls

For unscheduled calls, the procedure is the same except that the recruiter calls out of the blue. This isn’t very common but the best way to prepare for it is to do the above exercises with your CV at least a couple of times so you can answer specific career questions at a moment’s notice.

Pro Tip: Keep in mind that along with the recruiter, you are also human. If the recruiter has called you at an inconvenient time or you cannot handle a recruitment call at that moment, be sure to politely inform them that you are currently occupied and will be sure to get back in touch with them. Ask them a good time to call back and note it down. Unscheduled calls are of lower pressure because the recruiter is aware that he may be catching you at the wrong time.

Following up after a screening call

After the screening call, the one thing which greatly increases your chances of getting the job interview and yet lots of candidates forget to do, is to send a follow up email. This signals to the recruiter that you are invested in the job and are being proactive in following up on it. Here is a free sample you can use for the next recruiter.

Dear [Recruiter’s Name],

Thank you for talking with me today. I really enjoyed learning more about [Company Name]. It was great to understand how your business is growing and especially [specific detail about the company you learned during the interview].

 I’m looking forward to meeting with you again and discussing our cooperation further. Please find attached my resume and cover letter with detailed work experience.

Best regards,

[Your signature]

Why good candidates don’t get hired

Sometimes you can do everything right and still not get hired. That’s okay, it’s part of work and life. Here are some common dealbreakers for recruiters when they glance at and reject your profile.

Notice Period: Sometimes you may be at a company whose notice period is the standard two months and the recruiter must find a person who can start working in two weeks. Hence, you could be rejected just based on your company’s notice period policies.

Salary Expectations: Occasionally, the job application may not have written down a salary and when you fill in the required field “What are your Salary Expectations?” you may have filled in a value that’s too high for the employer to consider you.

Unexplained Gaps on Resume: Maybe you took a gap year or tried and failed to start your own business. Or maybe you took a sabbatical. Whatever the reason, if the recruiter sees a gap of time when you were not working with no explanation for the same, that is also a dealbreaker and a reason to reject you.

Location Mismatch: Though we are in a world of remote working, sometimes your geographical location can work against you. However, a lot of companies are right now looking to hire internationally because Covid has made them aware of remote working possibilities.

All in all, search for a job can be stressful and difficult. But the more time you put into the finer details like optimizing your CV, practicing for interviews, being prepared for tough questions, researching your field, the better it pays off in terms of results so stay cheerful and keep on keeping on.

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