Interview techniques

how to write a professional cv? Ask a professional cv writer!

Maybe You Just Need A Professional CV?

Being insecure about your CV can cause a lot of hand-wringing angst, procrastination, and analysis paralysis, (worthy of its own entry in Wikipedia no less). Maybe you need a professional CV, but just in case you think you don’t, let’s look at why not and why this is wrong; in general this can be divided into two sets of emotional reasons:

The first reason could be that the CV writing does not adequately convey to the reader what you think they would like to read. No matter how much time and effort you put in, the CV still ends up sounding like someone else and just does not convince you that it will do the job. This can partly be because you could be trying to second guess what the reader wants in a CV rather than looking at the job ad and deciding if firstly you can fulfill the brief. And secondly making sure your CV matches the brief.

Let’s make a list and call it:

The Procrastinators reasons for not sending out a CV:

[list icon=”clock” color=”magenta”]

  • It’s just not quite right.
  • I need to change some of the words for longer and more impressive adjectives.
  • It doesn’t really capture me.
  • Should I put my name in a larger font?
  • Can you check the spelling for me, I’ve checked, and spell checker has checked, but I would still like you to double check, (just in case)?
  • I’ve sent it out (to a job board), but nothing has happened. Maybe it needs tweaking?
  • Maybe I need more achievements?
  • I think the profile needs to be longer.


This list, as you might imagine is not quite exhaustive and I’m pretty certain that it could be about 4 times as long.

If procrastination or a variation of it is the first emotional reason for a lack of confidence in your CV, then what is the second?

Self Belief:

This is where things become tricky and emotional. If you read a job ad and convince yourself that you match all of the requirements of a role, then either you do or you don’t. But how do you find out? How can you check? Unless you are currently performing in an identical role at the moment (which could mean that your employer is advertising for someone to replace you), then you have no reference point other than family and maybe peers.

So after confiding in your nearest and dearest, you have a quick look at your CV, make some ill thought out adjustments, apply and nothing happens. Not a sniff of a reply. Self-belief takes an inevitable dive through the self-pasting table. Your ego is in pieces. And with the certainty that night follows day you end up back at the top of the page in the procrastinating analysis paralysis group.

Get a professional CV and start getting results

The process of creating a professional CV changes and you now have the opportunity to discuss your career with an expert that has (at least in our instance), credible and current experience of head hunting and the job market. The interview process as we have described on the home page of our website allows us to extract all of the information that is required for your professional CV. This consultation gives you a real personal insight into what will be demanded from you in an interview and can make a positive difference to the job interview outcome by allowing you to essentially “revise” the detail of your career. When it comes to questions from an interviewer, you will be prepared and your answers, in theory, will portray your self-belief and confidence.

But isn’t this all just snake oil, I hear you ask? No, but for a professional CV to get results, you just need to have the talent and ability that a role requires.

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Sir David Frost Dies - pictured with President Richard Nixon

Interview Technique: How to change the dynamic in the room

[success]I first posted this article back in October 2011 and republish it today in memory and as a tribute to the man who inspired it, Sir David Frost who has sadly passed away. For those of you that are unfamiliar with the story of Frost vs Nixon then I would suggest you look it up as it is a great example of firstly journalism at its very best, but also provides a clear example of how you change the dynamic in an interview. See below for references and the original post[/success]

Quite a few years ago, when I worked for Shanks Waste Management, during this tenure I was lucky enough to meet a gentleman called Huw. He was a trainer from an external resource called STC, probably one of the best external agencies that I have had access to. One training seminar always stands out for me as a pivotal moment of common sense from this time:

A word of caution before reading on, this only my experience and I would only use it in a situation that “felt right”. I know that is a subjective statement, but we all know, there is a time and place for everything.

How to change the dynamic:

The tutorial was actually based on sales, and how to influence the outcome by taking the initiative but I have used in the past to change the feel of an interview, get to the core of what is required and lay the foundation for a win. It can work for interviewers and interviewees. You must remember to move quickly, decisively and be professional. If you strugle with conversation do not read any further. Seriously.


Let the interviewer begin. They will usually start with thanks for coming, how are you etc. You could let them start the process of asking questions just to place them in their comfort zone. Then, at the opportune moment ask if it is possible to pause for a moment so that you can chat about, whether you get along (crucially appropriate if the person is going to be your manager or director), why they joined the company and why you should and should not join the company. The last part is critical. If they turn beige or pink then this is probably not the person you want to be working for. If, as in most cases, they sit back in the chair and ask you to explain or carry on, a CONVERSATION will begin. The astute amongst you can now guide the conversation in whichever direction you choose but always look to finish, say thank you and ask to resume the interview. You now have completely lightened the room and the interview will seem natural and easy for both of you.

Why does it work?

People like people. Moreover, people like people that can offer a new approach or a different dynamic. And, using this technique will create a bond that could just be the deal clincher.


Use the same approach but after the initial formality, put the pen and pad down and say that you would like to get to know the person and the interview structure as it stands does not allow for it (a white lie as this is the interview). Obviously only employ the technique for candidates that have a chance of winning the role.

Be bold and change.
(If you would like help with interview preparation then visit our coaching page here)

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interview answers

Interview Answers

I felt the need to share something from my daily Quora email digest. This answer came from a Gent called Tom Allen and I reference it here because it could quite possibly be not only one of the funniest answers I have seen, but it is also clever without being completely glib.

The Question:
During an interview what’s an appropriate answer when asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

The Answer: “That depends on where this company will be in four.”

I wrote about changing the interview dynamic in the room back in 2011 and it this answer would fit nicely with the approach and while your first reaction may be not to agree, I believe the question to be so crass as to deserve the answer!

Tom rounds out his thought process with his answer for what happens if the interviewer persists with requiring a definitive retort:
“Well, now it depends on whether you’ve just given me the job…”

I have to agree with him once more as he makes a valid point. This led me to consider of another alternative which could be used in place of both answers:

“If you have not given me the role then I will probably be with your main competitor taking away your market share”

That should seal it!

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Video Interviews - Is the UK ready?

Video Interview, is the UK ready?

The Video Interview – dystopian reality? As technology evolves, how we (as people) operate from day to day is changing. In business, time is always of the essence. Therefore, technological developments that have saved time in the past have been welcomed with open arms. With this in mind, the interview process has remained almost untouched by technology, until now. Here, we will explore more about the video interview.
[blockquote align=”center” cite=””]In the US, 6 out of 10 interviews involving HR are now conducted in this format[/blockquote]
Video chat is one of many technological developments that we have welcomed. Therefore, you could argue that it was only a matter of time before companies started to link video chat to business and come up with the video interview. In the US, 6 out of 10 interviews are now conducted in this format, but in the UK only small businesses are conducting video interviews. However, many HR specialists are saying that it will not be long until video interviews become the norm.

The benefits to the employers

There are a few benefits that an employer would see if they made the switch to the video interview. It is fair to say that the financial gain and time saving possibilities are the biggest two:

Financial– any company that adopts this process would spend less on interviewing. The European Organization for Nuclear Research noted that they saved 20% when they made the switch.

Time – as the person conducting the interview can do all of them in one place, or all at one time if an automated solution is being implemented, the amount of time that can be saved is significant.

While the video interview process for companies would take a bit of time to get used to, one could argue that the above benefits would come with no negatives.

2013 is probably the year that the interview process will change in the UK forever. As this is the case, it is imperative that those who are currently looking for work, start to think about how this process may affect them. No doubt, Generation Y has a distinct advantage having grown up with YouTube but for Generation X or the last of the Baby Boomers could this be an Orwellian nightmare?

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Get the interviewer to behave like a Toady

Will your CV get you that job?

No and do not convince yourself that a CV will be a “shoe in” to your next position.

It could actually ruin your chances and this is why:
If you are tempted to believe that you can just send your CV, that employers will be beating a path to your door before rolling out the red carpet whilst performing backward toady hops and showering you with platitudes then your CV must be a brilliant and targeted document. Why, you must have spent an age crafting it to fit the person specification for the role?

[error]I cannot emphasise enough the importance of using an advert for a role as the keyword/keyphrase target for your CV.[/error]

Of course there are exceptions and the more senior you are, the less likely it is to encounter obstacles. However, if you consider yourself to be an astute individual then you will be aware that every stage of a recruitment process is a sift and this becomes increasingly rigorous with every step forward.

A well crafted, detail rich CV can get you noticed and it can encourage or expedite the possibility of contact from a recruiter or employer. It will not get you the role that is your responsibility and that harsh reality of any contact regarding a CV needs to be considered as a nano interview process where scrutiny is used to establish how suitable, enthusiastic and qualified you are to take on the role.

If you are receiving regular calls or emails in regard to your CV or Linkedin profile then you can safely assume that your profile offers the detail

Taking responsibility for your initial contact and the Interview:

Your CV, once written properly can help you get an interview and that is all it can do. If your facts do not withstand scrutiny or you are unable to discuss your claims in detail then you will probably fail.

If you do not fill the room with your presence and command the attention of your interviewer(s) panel, you will fail.

If your CV is dynamic and you have the interview personality of a corpse then you have failed and NOT your CV.

Your CV got you in the room and if you do not succeed then you have yourself to blame.

As always, there is a caveat or two:

You may have failed because there was a better candidate (it happens to everyone) but there are only a few times you can use this excuse before you should have an introspective chat (if you have not done so already) with yourself. Look at yourself and think to how you behaved and engaged. Were you too passive or meek or maybe just dull?
If you want a role, you need to want a role and seasoned interviewer can spot this a mile off. So the next time you are called to interview, make sure that you execute your “A” game and fill the room with personality and enthusiasm.

After all, you might just surprise yourself into getting a new role.

Will your CV get you that job? Read More »

Do you have a Professional CV that shows a transferable skill set?

I thought I would reiterate some comments from an article that we posted on the old blog a few months ago. The article came from the BBC Newsnight Job Market Mentors and the thrust of it was around how Public Sector employees, amongst others, can learn to survive in the real world, sorry, I meant to say the private sector. Deborah Meaden was seen to offer a young lady called Kelly, a PubSec employee, advice on what she should do to find work, and, if she can make the transfer across the Rubicon.

To coin a phrase, “let me explain where I am”;

I’m not the Deborah Meaden off Dragons Den biggest fan. I find her lack of courage and vision in the Dragons Den incredibly frustrating and she really does not put herself in the best light. This is a shame, as in the cold hard glare of the real world she actually does hold her own and speaks a lot of common sense.

But I digress. She suggested that she could take someone that has had a job and “apply at least 75% of the skills that they have acquired in it and use them in another role” (sic). Think chap that sweeps leaves in the park and turning him into the next CEO of RBS and you can see what she means – able to clean up a lot of mess with a new broom?

I’m not sure about the 75% figure, it does seem a tad throwaway but the real question is, is she right? Yes she is, but with a caveat. There is a natural point of reason whereby the statement does not apply. How do you check? First check the advertisement and what it asks for.
If you can’t answer yes to at least 80% of the requirement then it’s a safe bet your skills do not transfer to the level the employer may require and this is the issue. Expectation and square pegs for square holes. Ms Meaden is right to bring up transferable skills but unfortunately she will not be interviewing you.

Read the article and watch the video and you will probably feel that the example does not fit with your profile but you would be missing the point somewhat. Think laterally, take the main idea of being transferable and then believe enough in the idea to be credible. Ensure the CV conveys the idea and that the cover letter pushes the point home. Your next role could be completely different and you might just find it is the best move you have ever made.

Do you have a Professional CV that shows a transferable skill set? Read More »

The Secrets behind the CEO or Managing Director CV

It’s simple, to be considered the leading applicant for a new post you will need a great track record of success. True, to a point. Some will tell you that you have to show how you managed an organisation and increased margins while lowering overheads. You will also hear a raft of other obvious statements that includes strategic thinking, change management and financial acumen to mention just a few. What no other Professional CV Writer will tell you is that it is also about the psychology of self belief and the ability to convey how much of an asset you were but more importantly, how you are or will be (notice the obvious present & future tense) to a business.

When asking around the office this morning, what else is key, one reply was synonymous with a CEO/MD role; Achievements. When I asked for elaboration the reply became quantifiable achievements. Your CV has to have detail and it has to be as close to exact as is possible. This is understandable. We know the Zeitgeist is for due diligence to be performed on senior appointments – thus the fiery hoops have become smaller and hotter.

If you have a CV that shows progression and continued success then you are half way there but if your tendency is to orate during an interview then it is likely that you will not progress any further.

Brevity is another secret key that we can suggest you consider. Get to the answer of a question quickly, with precision and ensure the interviewer comprehends the answer. Keep the mood light and interesting and do not be afraid to discuss negative issues. When handled properly they can have a more positive effect than people realise.

The final secret for this article is: Let us take the strain.

When you use our Professional CV Services three things happen. You feel relief that you chose our service. You think harder, a lot harder, about who you are and about your career. You feel prepared to take your career to the next step.

To read more click here

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