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A few thoughts on interviews...

By - Head of Digital Marketing. 

work for Orantec

Part of my job as Head of Digital Marketing at Orantec is to determine how many employees we need for the team to work best, and to hire new employees when the need arises. Despite the gloomy economic situation we have continued growing, going from a team of four people two years ago (and I'm counting our web developers and our part-time office manager in!) to five full-time employees, plus two part-timers and one intern.

The hiring process

In order to give our clients the best service possible, it is necessary to have enough staff, but we don't just need extra hands to write blogs or update social media, we need people who can add value to the team while fitting in. Indeed, if team members don't get along, how can they be happy to come to the office every day, and work harmoniously together to provide a great service?

If you've read some of our other blogs, you know that we like to find interns through GO Wales, as we believe that placements are great work experiences for graduates without much experience who struggle to find a position, while allowing us as a company to teach someone the ropes and see if the candidate can have a future with our company. We can’t give a permanent job to every intern we hire, but GO Wales placements can nevertheless be beneficial for both candidate and employer.

In the past 6 months, I've had the opportunity to hire three interns (which means I've read about 50 CVs and directed 20 to 30 interviews) and I even had to terminate the placement of one candidate who proved not to be a good match; it was not a pleasant experience but it was a necessary one for the good of the team. When you start looking for someone new to hire, you have to take into account so many things that it’s hard to make the right choice: ideally, you want a candidate who is motivated, talented, hard-working and knowledgeable, but you also need someone who understands the company ethos and can blossom within the team and be happy to work with you. No one is perfect, so the most important thing is the potential of a person. Since you only have a CV and a 30min to 1 hour interview to decide which candidate seems best, you are bound to have surprises (good or bad) once the candidate starts work. Since writing is a major aspect of our job in Digital Marketing, I like to give candidates a text to proof-read, but still, the results are not always accurate compared to the reality of writing and proof-reading within a professional environment.

Candidates, please avoid rooky mistakes

I don’t know if this is due to the fact that I grew up and studied in France, but I find that many graduates I met were making rooky mistakes that I was taught to avoid during my first year at uni. Although I try not to judge candidates too harshly, in the end errors do tend to leave a negative impression, and when you have to make your final decision this may count in the balance, even if only a little. Applying for a job is like taking part in a competition: you need to be the best to win, so it’s wiser to avoid silly mistakes.

Spell-check your CV

To me this is Rule No 1, especially since, as I said earlier, our job relies heavily on writing. If you can’t write your CV properly when you have plenty of time to do it and can ask as many people as you wish to double-check it, how can a potential employer believe you can write anything autonomously without needing too much proof-reading? Some jobs may not demand that you know how to write, but it will put you at an advantage if you can and in Digital Marketing it is a requirement.

Read the invitation e-mail carefully

You've been sent an e-mail to request an interview, great! Make sure to double check the time and day, the place, and if you need to prepare anything – if the convocation e-mail mentions you will have to proof-read a text upon arrival, don’t act surprised when you’re given said text! It can be simply due to stress, but suggests a certain lack of thoroughness and/or interest.

Avoid calling to ask silly questions

If the ad mentions skills you don’t have but you still get chosen for an interview then it’s great, it means we've seen your potential – no need to call to check if it's ok that you don’t have the skill.

Research the company

I've personally always struggled on this one when I was applying for jobs, not knowing how much research to do, especially when the website of a company was unclear – which I believe isn't the case for us! When you apply for a job I don’t expect you to learn by heart the date of creation of the company or the names of all the employees, but having a look at some of the projects we've done and checking the services we offer is easy enough. If any of the candidates I last interviewed had noticed the .uk domain name we had just acquired, they would definitely have won brownie points, but that’s just the geek in me speaking! You can also read a few of our blogs, which will allow you to find out a bit more about the team (and maybe find questions to ask), and will avoid you having to say that we do "online stuff" if we ask you what services we offer.

Timing is important

Being late is definitely a deal-breaker, but arriving too early for an appointment is not great either. If you arrive 30 or 40 minutes prior to the interview, go for a walk and check out the neighbourhood -  walking will help you relax before meeting your potential new boss. Arriving too early can give the impression that you are stressed and that your time-management skills need some fine-tuning.

Dress to impress

This may sound old-fashioned, but the way you dress for an interview matters, so it’s better to dress in a smart way. It doesn’t mean you would have to put on a suit every day, but if there is one day you should avoid jeans, it’s on the day of the interview. If you’re wondering, we have a smart casual dress code (even for our web developers) since we’re all likely to meet clients.

If you’re not coming, let us know!

If you have confirmed the interview, but can’t make it for any reason, then just send a quick e-mail to apologise and say you won’t be coming. It’s sheer politeness, and this way, if a similar position is offered later on you have a chance of being considered again.

If you’re a manager starting out in Human Resources, have you had similar experiences? What is most important thing you look for in a candidate? If you’re a candidate, I hope this will help ease your way through the daunting process of finding a job – and if you’re applying for a position at Orantec, you’re definitely on the right track! 

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