Interviews are very time consuming. Depending on the seniority of the job and the interviewer’s style, an interview can last on average between 45 and 90 minutes. Small wonder, therefore, that employers are very choosy about who they ask along. Irrespective of how well qualified you are for a job, you should never take it for granted that you are going to get an interview. The fact that you are the best thing since sliced bread is not enough. That message has to get through to the employer and the responsibility to make sure that this happens falls on you (yet another example of ‘taking control’).
The challenge is of course most in evidence where there is competition for the job:
- Where the employer has a number of applicants to choose from
- If some applicants will be picked out for interview and some will not
The challenge of getting on interview lists is one you particularly need to focus your mind on when making applications on the visible market. Any good job that has been advertised (in newspapers, journals or on websites) will attract large numbers of applicants and you should always allow for this.
How Interview Lists are Chosen
Yesterday we looked at selection criteria – the benchmarks that employers use to assess candidates. We saw how selection criteria provide you with a basis to determine the strong and weak areas in your application:
- A strong area: where there is a match between the selection criteria and what you have to offer.
- A weak area: where you fall short of the criteria in some way.
Similarly, an employer browsing through a batch of job applications will be searching for matches. If a sufficient number of matches with the selection criteria are found, the candidate will be put on the ‘Yes’ pile. Alternatively, if few or no matches are evident, the candidate will be put on the pile to be turned down. Other points to note about this preliminary sifting process are:
- Where there are large numbers of applications, the time given to reading each one will be relatively short
- Not all applications will be read from start to finish
- Applications are rarely read twice (once on the turndown pile, they tend to stay there)
Give prominence to your Strong Areas
Improve your chances of being picked for interviews by helping employers to make the matches. Take control of your applications and give your strong areas prominence. In doing this, pay special attention to any documentation that you submit to employers, notably:
- Your CV
- Your letters of application
- Any forms you are asked to fill in
Jill Anderson works full-time as an HR specialist for a recruiting firm in Sydney. She is currently busy due to the surge in job applicants for Western Australia mining jobs.