The 7 Core Skills for Interview
According to industry surveys, 66% of workers between 18 and 34 are currently in the job market looking for opportunities. If you've applied for work before, you're probably aware that looking for and securing a job is not as easy as it seems. Besides perfectly refining your CV, you must prepare for a job interview and impress your potential future employers. Although there's no single recipe for success at job interviews, you can increase your chances of getting an offer by developing these seven skills that will best prepare you for that moment.
The art of listening is an essential skill in any walk of life and never more so when you are sitting in front of an interview panel. You need to understand the question in front of you. Some of the questions you can expect at most job interviews are: "Tell me about yourself", "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" and "Why do you want to work with us?" If you're prepared to answer these questions and what the interview is getting at you can lessen your anxiety during the actual meeting and ensure that your answers make sense and are coherent. You can search for tips online on appropriately answering each type of question to guarantee that you satisfy their query.
Logically, planned and well thought out answer that connects your experiences and skills with what the employer is seeking. That is a coherent answer. If you have thoroughly reviewed the requirements and scope of the job and connected the tasks and responsibilities to your previous roles or transferable skills you are more likely to produce a coherent answer. This simply is taking the time and effort to look at the role, person requirements with who you are and what you have achieved. You need to be that best match for the company. In addition it is good practice to research the reputation and recent projects of the company you're applying for. Aside from gaining a favourable first impression, you'll get to understand the company's mission and vision, allowing you to know your values align to theirs.
Building rapport is an essential skill in life when you meet a stranger or someone you need to connect with for the first time. It's not easy but whilst the interviewer will want to put you at easy early on in the interview, by perhaps asking some light questions, you also want to be building rapport. It simple steps this can be done by smiling, nodding, leading forward slightly, making good eye contact with who ever is speaking. It's not a difficult task but it might surprise you how many people fail to do it. Gratitude and appreciation are all keys to building rapport as you are valuing their time to listen to you and to give you this opportunity. Who knows when you are the only one who actually said thankyou at the end. That could be enough to put you ahead of another candidate. If you are able to do some deep research on an interviewer it may be you have some common ground or interest and if the occasion arises you might be able to chat about this. Take care! This can be a risky strategy if you are a novice in this area and they are an expert. You could be made to look foolish.
Answering a question without fully understanding what the interview is going to undermine your ability to land the job. Asking clarification questions is acceptable in the interview process so long as you don't ask it for every moment. For example, "So what you are asking is..." is a method you could use. It also demonstrates that you heard the interviewer but want to clarify what it is they are getting at.
Towards the end of the meeting, your interviewer will likely ask you if you have any questions. Although they're not mandatory, they help you look enthusiastic and engaged with the prospect of working with them. It also allows you to clarify anything about the job that seems vague to you. You can ask about what's a day like working in the company or ask them about the organisation's work culture. Remember to avoid asking questions that focus too much on what the organisation can do for you. And unless they initiate the question, save your queries about compensation when you get the offer.
The ability to be concise in the interview will enable you to waffle through answers and demonstrate not only your grasp of the question but that you can communicate your points effectively. Waffling or digressing is not only a waste of time but demonstrates you haven't grasped the question or convinced the interviewer that you know what you are talking about. A short answer should take you around 30 seconds to complete. Extended questions that may have multiple elements would require an answer that might take 1 - 2 minutes. Any longer and your interviewer will switch off. Remember an interviewer knows the kind of answer they are looking for. So if you haven't given them what they want, they will quickly be thinking about either the next question or the next candidate!
A healthy awareness of your environment and yourself will enable you to better perform at an interview. If you are nervous you will most likely speak quickly, make side remarks or comments, lose eye contact or make any other manner of mistakes. So calming yourself, being present in the moment is important to you effectively performing. You also need to read the room. How are the interviewers coming across to you? Are the warm, distance, engaging, formal or informal. If the environment feels formal and serious, don't try and lighten it with a remark or joke, take the engagement in the same manner.
Lastly, be confident throughout the interview since your confidence can let potential employers know you're equally confident in what you can bring to the company. Some companies may also view your confidence as an asset to the business, especially if the role you're applying for calls for it. However, don't be overly sure of yourself. An article on being overconfident shared that those who overestimated their abilities the most were the ones who performed the worst when it came to actual attainment. To balance your confidence and humility, avoid saying "I" too much when discussing your achievements. Use "we" instead whenever it is applicable.
It's not easy to tell when you'll get the job from your interview alone. But as we discussed in our article on improving your employability, it's best to maintain a positive outlook and be open to future opportunities, even if you don't get a job offer right away. Check out this article also on mastering a virtual interview and see our poster of the same.
Written by Faith Aliana Clarkson (freelance writer) and Russ Banner (Director- Career Guidance Charts)
Jobs in Demand
Figuring out what career you want to pursue can be extremely difficult. Questions like ‘What do you find the most interesting?’, ‘Where would you like to be in 5 years?’, ‘What are your dreams?’ can often breed many results and raise a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about what to do next. Another way to look at it is to investigate what it is the world currently needs; what jobs are in demand. Then, if you find any of those roles appealing you could research them further and see if you might want to pursue any of those careers.
Since Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic, the working landscape has drastically altered. Sectors have been entirely re-structured, and many people have left careers or changed to something new. In this article we outline those positions that are experiencing shortages and are looking for new talent to bolster the workforce.
The healthcare sector has endured a demanding and intensive few years due to the recent Coronavirus pandemic. Despite the heroic efforts of the NHS and other medical professionals, the industry is still under huge strain to meet the requirements of the country. There are many jobs within this sector which have high vacancies that need to be filled.
Engineering is another industry experiencing a shortage of workers. Jobs in this industry require skilled workers with a high standard of expertise. This also means that salaries tend to be higher, and therefore it is definitely worth considering a potential career. This sector is extremely broad with a vast number of sub-disciplines, but the occupations currently in demand include:
As technology becomes more prominent and the recent pandemic forced many businesses to move online, the world has become even more reliant on IT. With this need for highly functioning software and computer tech, our need for IT professionals has also risen drastically. More and more positions are opening up as this industry continues to boom. If you think you might be interested in a career in technology then consider these roles:
The UK is currently experiencing a severe lack of teachers, with certain subjects suffering more than others. In fact, the Department for Education revealed that it has been unsuccessful in meeting recruitment targets for the seventh year running. This applies to both primary and secondary education. However, in order to incentivise people into these jobs the Government has increased the starting salary for teachers and this is forecast to reach £30,000 by 2023. So, if think a career in teaching sounds interesting you could find yourself, not only in high demand, but with a higher wage as well.
All companies and organisations require managers and directors to ensure operations run smoothly and efficiently. The need for these senior members in business is rising. Are you good at motivating others, being organised, and performing well under pressure? Then you might consider a future role in management.
Transport & Logistics
One of the biggest shortages in workers comes from the Transport & Logistics sector. Demand for delivery drivers has trebled since 2021. This is partly due to the number of retail businesses that shifted online during the pandemic, but also because many people picked up delivery jobs during this time, as a way of maintaining an income, but then left their position once the UK came out of lockdown. This then increased the gap between online sales and the number of delivery drivers, and so demand for these jobs surged rapidly.
The UK’s construction industry is trying to create a greater influx of new young workers to help meet growing demand. There are over 210,000 positions that need to be filled by 2025 in order to stay on track. As such, there are a great number of opportunities available to young people should they want to start a career in construction. For instance, apprenticeship opportunities are increasing as this is a great way to get new talent trained, qualified and prepared to start working, so it is worth keeping an eye out for these.
For more information check out our store where we have an extensive range of infographics and posters on the labour market, industry trends and statistics. Our Career and Employment Series contains a series of artworks covering jobs in demand, apprenticeships, the job market, and 2022 employment statistics, to name a few.
See the range here: https://www.careerguidancecharts.com/store/c16/Career_and_Employment_Series.html
Starting to think about your future career and entering working life can be a little daunting. It is normal to feel unsure and uncertain about what you want to do in the future due to the sheer number of jobs that are out there. However, there are things you can do to help figure out what route you might want to take and how to get there. The key is to try and learn as much as possible about the world of work and also reflect on yourself and your own traits and skills. This will enable you to start realising the jobs that are best suited to you and uncover what such jobs entail.
1. Personality tests
Personality tests are a really useful tool for learning more about which jobs complement you and your own characteristics and strengths. Visit our website (https://www.careerguidancecharts.com/career-assessments.html) to access a range of short, free assessments that will help you reflect on your own traits and aptitudes. Other tests you should take include: Holland’s, Myers Briggs and Redbull, Wingfinder, to name a few. All of these tests will ask you a series of questions in order to decipher how you perceive the world around you and what motivates you into acting and making decisions. Completing these tests will give you a better awareness of yourself and your capabilities. This is extremely useful when looking for work because you will be able to recognise which sorts of occupations you would excel in and which you should avoid. For example, if you find out that you are a very efficient, logical, independent and organised then you will be best suited to organisational and planning roles such as event planner, real estate agent or assistant positions.
2. Career Information Websites
There are a number of websites that you can access which have information available on an extensive list of jobs and industries. For example, our Career Guidance Charts App (http://app.careerguidancecharts.com/) has a large database of maps on career sectors, as well as occupation descriptions, links to company websites and sector outlooks. Other useful sites include Prospects.ac.uk, National Careers Service and UCAS. These websites contain details on what various jobs entail, what skills are required, routes into the role, as well as information on average salary, big companies, typical hours and career progression. If you are considering a few different jobs or career paths, it is worthwhile finding out as much information as possible about the roles to check that it is the right fit for you and to discover what qualifications you might need to get there.
3. Speak to people in the field
One of the most effective methods of finding out about a job is to actually speak with someone currently in the sector. Talk to your family members and see if they know of anyone in that sector or role, making connections is an extremely valuable resource when job hunting. Social media is another great tool for this. Platforms like LinkedIn are a great way to reach out to professionals and network with people already in your chosen field. Once you have made contact, be sure to ask questions, accept any advice they may have, and reflect on whether you think the job is right for you.
4. Lived Experience
It is also important to reflect on the experience you already have. Have you done any volunteering, work experience or been involved with any events or activities within your community? Think about what skills and capabilities you have acquired that lend themselves to certain jobs. Research which careers play to your strengths and experiences.
5. Career games or quizzes
Online games and quizzes based on careers and skills can be a quick, easy and fun way to learn more about what you are looking for in a future career. The Career Guidance Charts website has 7 free quizzes, such as the Career Values Quiz and the Strengths Exercises, that you can complete to reflect on your career ambitions and job searching activities. They take no more than a few minutes and will help you to evaluate your decisions, skills and what motivates you. Visit https://www.careerguidancecharts.com/career-assessments.html to access the quizzes.
Keep an eye out in schools, job centres and community centres for any leaflets or brochures on career opportunities currently being advertised. Often companies will promote any local opportunities, be that work experience or new vacancies, in leaflets and posters so be sure to take home any that you come across in case there is a role that interests you. Leaflets and posters are also used to market any local events that might be coming up and with events comes the opportunity to volunteer or simply to get involved with your community where you can meet and network with more people.
We do provide a range of job guides in leaflet format which can be purchased in print or downloaded digitally. See our products here: https://www.careerguidancecharts.com/store/c38/Job_Guides.html
7. Looking at LMI
Visit www.lmiforall.org.uk to find out more about the current labour market and industry statistics. It is extremely useful to be clued up on the present state of the labour market as this will help you to see which sectors are growing, what jobs are in demand, and where you might want to pursue a career. For a broader outlook on the labour market and industry trends you can also visit websites such as www.nomisweb.co.uk or www.cipd.co.uk/.
8. Use a Careers Platform
An online careers platform is a great space for you to continue your own exploration of a range of potential occupations. Platforms such as http://app.careerguidancecharts.com/ , START profile, Unifrog or Kudos all contain a wealth of career information. You will be able to learn more about what jobs entail and in which sectors, how to enter into roles, what university courses or apprenticeships are available, how to build your CV, and much more. Be sure to make the most of what these platforms have to offer because they will equip you with all the necessary information on jobs you might want to pursue and show you how to get there.
Volunteering is a great way to gain experience in the world of work, get involved with your local community, and connect and network with people. Whilst you do not receive any payment for your labour, the benefits you will gain from volunteering are far more valuable. You will get real hands-on experience in the real world, and assess whether you might want to start a career in a given sector or industry. For example you might become a conservation volunteer at a national park and realise you would like a career in preserving and protecting the environment. Furthermore, having experience as a volunteer really boosts your CV and profile because it shows that you have strong work ethic and are enthusiastic about the sector. To find opportunities near you visit https://doit.life/volunteer or https://reachvolunteering.org.uk/.
10. YouTube and/or Vlogs
YouTube is rapidly expanding platform with millions of videos posted each day. Research and watch videos on specific careers, routes into the sector, what jobs actually involve. You could also watch Vlogs of people currently in your desired field and see what their day-to-day life consists of, giving you more insight into what the job requires. This will help you to reflect on whether you feel that job or industry is right for you. Try using hashtags such as #careerpath #careergoals #careeradvice to find relevant content and information. Check out websites such as icould.com for more videos.
11. Reading blogs, newspapers or magazines
The internet contains a vast amount of useful information on industries and careers so make the most of it. Google your desired field and read through any online articles or blogs to stay up-to-date on industry trends and future projections. Furthermore, being up-to-date about the current and future state of your chosen sector will make you a strong candidate during the job application process and you will stand out as someone who is already passionate about the field. As well as online resources there are a number of useful print materials which you should utilise such as newspapers and physical magazines. For example, if you want to work as a nurse you could subscribe to The Nursing Times or the British Journal of Nursing.
12. Careers appointment with advisors
Another great way to learn more about the world of work is to talk with your careers advisor in school or as an adult contact the National Careers Service for an appointment local to you. They are trained professionals whose job is to support people into work so they will be able to guide you on how to pursue a certain career or how to figure out which job might be right for you.
13. Visits to employers
Take advantage of the opportunities given to you in school. Often schools will organise trips to employers or taster days, be sure to sign up for a place on these visits. These trips will allow you to enter a working environment and see what working life is really like. You will gain further insight into what different jobs involve and might be inspired to pursue a role you hadn’t considered before. You will also be able to chat with people already in the field and find out more about what they do and how they got to where they are now.
14. Visits to education
Other worthwhile trips include visiting other educational institutions such as colleges or universities. If you have a subject or course in mind attending an open day will allow you to learn more about the modules you could take and what jobs they could lead to. You will also be able to chat to students who are currently taking the course and find out how they have found it and further assess whether you think it’s the right choice for you. Getting as qualified as possible will really support your job search and give you a far stronger job profile increasingly your chance for success during applications.
Check out https://www.opendays.com/ to find out dates for open days coming up.
15. Work experience
One of the best and most effective ways to learn about the world of work is to gain some work experience. This will help you to gain insight into the field, build and develop necessary skills, connect with professionals already in the industry, and massively boost your profile should you decide to pursue a career in the sector. To obtain work experience you can email or phone companies directly asking for opportunities they might have available. Alternatively you can look on career websites as listed above, or talk to your careers advisor in school to see if they can put you in contact with anyone.
16. Social Media research
Utilise social media to help you uncover more about the working world. Follow relevant hashtags such as #careerpath #careergoals #careeradvice to receive useful information and advice. You can also join Facebook groups relating to your chosen field where you will connect with likeminded people and access shared resources relating to work. You should also follow influencers who are in jobs you would like to learn more about, you can get a sneak peek into their daily lives and reflect on whether you can see yourself in their position. LinkedIn is another great tool for learning about careers. By connecting with people in your chosen field or following company pages you will keep updated on trends in the market and improve your knowledge of the sector.
I have 10 years experience of working in careers guidance and am director of CGC. We publish career infographics for schools and colleges