Letter of the week: Advice on how to sell yourself
• I refer to your article regarding interview questions which cause candidates consternation (30 November). It is a pity many employers seem to want to catch candidates out with difficult questions. I like to think our company uses such questions to test how candidates respond in a difficult situation.
In our recruitment processes, I would say the HR department tends to ask the awkward, "touchy-feely" questions which aim to find out about the person, whereas the managers are generally more keen on job-related questions in terms of experience and knowledge and so on.
Here are some favourites.
How do you like to be managed? Invokes some interesting reactions as usually their prospective manager is in front of them.
What irritates you in other people? An excellent way to find out what gets on their nerves and how they cope. Some candidates are nervous about this one as they think it may cast a negative light on their personality.
If we offered you the job on Friday, what would you do on Monday? This sorts out those people who have thought about how they would go about the job when they got it, and those who are attending for interview sake.
What would you do if you did not agree with your manager's decision? This can often make people feel uncomfortable, especially if they are strong-minded.
I would agree that candidates could be better prepared for interview and show greater enthusiasm. The candidate who has not prepared some sort of presentation, supplied details of qualifications and achievements etc, or shown some question preparation, is clearly not the person for the job.
The candidate has only a short time to impress and, while they may have been able to sell themselves on paper, they are not through the woods.
Writing notes is an excellent way to train the mind, especially if someone is nervous. I am very impressed if candidates have notes with them - it shows preparation and commitment.
You refer to three areas in which it has been found that candidates fail to impress - I agree with all of these. Inappropriate dress, I find, is more a failure of internal than external candidates - there is nothing wrong with a suit, shirt, tie and trousers, skirt and blouse or similar. Clean shoes are a must.
Finally yes, monosyllabic responses are a problem with lot of people. A