Knowing how best to navigate a graduate job interview may be making you feel slightly anxious and apprehensive – especially when you’re unsure exactly what questions you’ll be asked. However, one of the most common during the process that frequently arises very early on is - "Can you talk me through your CV?"
Now, this question may appear deceptively simple, but it acts as the foundation on which the rest of the interview is built. In this blog, we’ll delve into how to excel in answering this question by preparing a well-structured and compelling response:
Focus on your most relevant achievements
When you find yourself facing the pivotal question, "Could you guide me through your CV?" it's crucial to recognise the interviewer's primary interest – your achievements and the skills you've developed over your career. The aim here is to provide a concise overview of your professional journey, without drowning in irrelevant dates and job titles, unless these particulars outline your success in a specific role.
If you worked your way up the ranks at your previous company, emphasise the factors that propelled you to secure these promotions. Think about:
Highlight your key skills
When you're asked to talk about your CV, it's a prime opportunity to let your skills take centre stage. Instead of delivering a pretty basic rundown of your work history, seize this moment to showcase what sets you apart as the ideal candidate for both the position and the company.
Start by pinpointing the key skills outlined in the job description and seamlessly weave them into your past experiences by using concrete examples to demonstrate your ability. Additionally, don't overlook the value of transferable (soft) skills—ones that are universally beneficial across various industries and roles—highlighting how you can bring these valuable assets to the company. You might even have some success stories up your sleeve to demonstrate how you have excelled in real workplace scenarios.
Address any gaps in your CV
When discussing CV gaps, be direct and honest. State the reason for the gap clearly, without rambling on. For example, if you took a sabbatical to travel, pursued further education, or experienced a period of unemployment, don’t be afraid to briefly mention it, as this may prevent any further difficult questions being asked.
Perhaps you could emphasise what you learned or accomplished during your break from working life, even if it wasn't directly related to your career. Employers are always keen to hire candidates who are eager to invest in themselves and their personal growth.
The gap may have been due to unfortunate circumstances, through no fault of your own –such as illness or job loss. If possible, discuss any steps you took to remain connected to your field, whether it be taking online courses or attending workshops.
Briefly discuss your hobbies and interests
Discussing your hobbies during a job interview can be a valuable way to provide the interviewer with insights into your personality and potential cultural fit within the organisation. For example, if you're applying for a role in a tech startup that values creativity and innovation, mentioning a hobby like graphic design or coding in your free time could become a significant factor in landing you the role.
What’s more, particular hobbies and interests can set you apart from other applicants as a more interesting candidate, so really take the time to think about which ones you spend most of your time doing and this can trigger great conversation.
Close with a sense of enthusiasm
As you wrap up your discussion of your CV, it's crucial to leave a lasting impression by conveying your genuine enthusiasm for the chance to interview with the company. Take this moment to express your eagerness for the role and paint a clear picture of how your previous experiences have equipped you for this opportunity. Good luck!
Inspiring Interns is the UK’s leading graduate recruitment agency, connecting the best graduates with top companies worldwide. We work with everyone from the most innovative start-ups to the biggest multinationals, including Virgin, Lloyds, and M&C Saatchi Mobile. Please take a look at our website for the latest graduate jobs vacancies and careers advice.
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