29th
Sep

Giving an interview to remember (or how to build competitive advantage)

Posted by: Matt

 

Often designers (graphic/industrial) use portfolios to showcase their work. But I’d recommend every candidate compiling a portfolio of their work/projects. It’s an effective way of demonstrating real life experience and will help you keep an interview on track and focused.

If you find the interview environment challenging (and most do!) then it can be a great aide to nerves and allow you to truly differentiate yourself from the competition. If you can host it online and allow access to it from your LinkedIn or online profile, then even better.

What is an Interview Portfolio?

It’s essentially a short presentation of your skills and experience. It should be visually engaging, like an infographic that’s easy to skim through. It’s easiest to create a portfolio in PowerPoint, using the Atitlan Template, and saving as a PDF for easy printing. It should include:

  • An introduction
  • Professional background summary
  • STAR behavioural examples
  • Awards and recommendations
  • Sample solution(s) – identify a specific problem common to the sector you’re in, or that you’ve uncovered during your company research, and explain how you’d address it
  • A closing page

It is essentially a show and tell of your skills, the goal is to get the interviewer to visualise you solving problems for them. Putting together a portfolio:

  • Makes you look and sound more credible, polished and professional
  • Shows your enthusiasm for getting the job
  • Keeps you on track during interviews
  • Puts you in control, directing the conversation
  • Makes you feel more comfortable, as you’ll be discussing information that you’ve taken time to think about
  • To an interviewer, it’s a tangible wonderful showcase of your talent and accomplishments
  • For you, it’s a also a handy cheat sheet, ensuring you don’t forget to mention anything crucial at interview

But an interview portfolio is far from the only way to stand out from the pack. Here are a few more tips to help you build competitive advantage in interviews.

Extracurricular Experience

In 2015, Victory University of Wellington undertook a study into what employers look for when recruiting students and graduates.

  • Of the 346 employers who participated, the number one attribute they were looking for was work ethic, but they also considered extracurricular activities important
  • Employers were keen to see signs of interests that extend beyond academics, including hands-on experience

Extracurricular activities can enhance job applications, resumes and internships, demonstrating that you’re well-rounded, with experience that others in your sector or academic field might not possess.

Many volunteer roles can help you develop personal skills like time management, leadership and team-building, which is particularly advantageous for graduates who might not have much real world experience.

Your Online Presence Is Important

Whether you like it or not, when you’re interviewing for jobs, anyone looking at your CV is also looking you up on Google. If you’re invisible or your Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn profiles look forgotten about, then you will be too. On the other hand, when someone Googles you and, voila, they see an impressive online profile – plenty of followers, networks on LinkedIn and recent tweets of interest – you’ve already packed a punch.

There’s real value in building your personal brand online, so use Social Media to your advantage.

Matt is a Director of The Talent Hive and leads the Engineering recruitment practice within the business. Originally from the UK he’s been living in New Zealand for 12 years. Matt is a retired ‘amateur’ athlete who has given up chasing great marathon times for chasing his young children around the park, a far more worthy (if not exhausting) pursuit.

At The Talent Hive we specialise in connecting  Engineering & IT  professionals with the right career opportunities. We encourage collaboration, socialising your success and sharing industry insight and expertise. Start the journey, connect with The Talent Hive today

Categorised as: Career Development