Expert tips: Writing your CV and 10 commandments for interviews
Michael Page International and Page Personnel offer professional advice on how to prepare a Swiss job application and succeed in that all-important interview.
When applying for jobs in Switzerland, you will usually be asked to provide both a CV and a cover letter. These will be a potential employer’s first introduction to you, so it’s important they make a good impression.
The purpose of your cover letter is:
- to convince the reader to look at your CV;
- to call attention to the most important elements of your background;
- to reflect your attitude;
- to provide or refer to any information specifically requested.
Make sure that your letter is well structured and laid out, and that all grammar and spelling is correct.
Your CV is a reflection of you, from its presentation to its content, and should allow the recruiter to see at a glance how you can contribute to the company. If you cannot produce a professional CV, an employer may conclude that you are unlikely to have the competence for an important job.
- any periods between roles are fully explained;
- achievements that demonstrate your successes are highlighted;
- you do not make false or exaggerated claims: honesty is always the best approach
Once you’re called for interview, don’t get complacent! Interview performance is often the determining factor when deciding between candidates for a job. This makes the face-to-face meeting a critical part of the recruitment process and you will need to impress from the start. Candidates who are in fact qualified for the position may not get through this stage due to lack of preparation.
Being ready on the day of the interview will allow you to feel more comfortable and confident, and avoid the stress of not being able to answer key questions. Stick to these 10 interview preparation commandments to overcome interview nerves and install confidence for a productive meeting with a potential employer.
Before the interview
Find out as much information as possible about your prospective employer in advance. The company website should be your first start. Familiarise yourself with mission statements, past performance, future goals and current analyst ratings. Talk to anyone you know who has worked at the organisation.
2. Be familiar with your CV and job description
You should know every point on your CV and be prepared to answer questions from it. Similarly, ensure you have read the job description thoroughly and think of ways in which your experience will benefit your potential employer.
3. Prepare your interview kit
Bring certificates, references, a copy of the advert and a list of questions such as:
- What will my responsibilities be?
- How has the position become vacant?
- How will you assess my performance?
- How does the role fit into the structure of the department?
- How might my career progress?
- What encouragement is given to undertake further training?
- Who are your customers?
- Where is the company going? Are there expansion plans?
- What is the next step?
4. Prepare yourself for common questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- What have been your achievements to date?
- Are you happy with your career to date?
- Tell me about the most difficult situation you have faced and how you tackled it.
- What do you dislike about your current role?
- What are your strengths/weaknesses?
- What kind of decision do you find most difficult to make?
- Why do you want to leave your current employer?
During the interview
5. Maintain good body language
Greet your interviewer standing, with a strong, firm handshake and a smile! Sit up straight with both feet on the floor. Speak clearly and confidently. Try to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact throughout the interview.
6. Anticipate the interview’s course
A standard interview will generally start with an introductory chat – be prepared to introduce yourself in 10 minutes – moving on to questions specific to your application and experience. General information about the company and role may follow, finishing with an opportunity for you to ask your own questions.
7. Listen to what is being asked of you
Think about your answers to more difficult questions and do not give irrelevant detail. Give positive examples from your experience to date and be concise, but avoid one word answers.
8. Be ready to ask your questions
This demonstrates that you have thought about the role and researched the organisation. Ensure they are open questions, thus encouraging the interviewer to provide you with additional information.
9. Show your enthusiasm for the role
If you have some reservations, these can be discussed at a later stage.
After the interview
10. Write a short summary of the interview
Do this while it is still fresh in your mind. Note areas which you feel went well, as well as any questions you found difficult to answer. Seek advice in order to give constructive feedback to your recruitment consultant at every stage of the process.
Find a job in Switzerland using Expatica's job search.
Updated from 2011
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