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The Interview, Part 3

The Interview, Part 3

We’ve covered some tough Q & A’s so far, and it’s not over yet.

This is a critical question, so think about this carefully. Keep your answer short and use positive words. Please do not badmouth your previous employers or your colleagues – this will backfire and paint you in a bad light.
For example – Rather than saying “There wasn’t an opportunity for growth”, put it this way “I’m looking to expand my horizons and move into a developmental role, where I can grow.”
Focus on what you want to achieve and explain how a move will be great for you and for your new company.

If you were fired – your response could be: “Unfortunately, the company and position were a mismatch for me, so I needed to find a new challenge.”
Or: “I was going through a bad stage in my life and made a few mistakes but I’ve since turned my life around and I’m ready for my next challenge.”

This question is popular for customer service and sales positions, but can be thrown in at any time to test your ability to think on your feet. It shows your future employer how you react under difficult circumstances and stress, and also to evaluate your reasoning ability, problem-solving, interpersonal and critical thinking skills.
Do not reply by saying that you have not found yourself in a difficult situation, everyone has had to face a challenge regardless of their position.
Perhaps think of a time when you learned something as the result of a disagreement. Pick a scenario that shows conflict with a good outcome and makes a positive statement about your ability to collaborate and grow. Be specific about the steps that you took to correct the issue, but also the positive solution.

As an example:
You assisted a difficult customer resolve an ongoing complaint, therefore saving the account.
Perhaps you negotiated a payment plan for a non-paying debtor, which secured future income with extended interest.

Your interviewer doesn’t want to know if you plan to get married, buy a house or win your local soccer league. They want to know if you are stable and see a future with their company – so they are really asking if you are worth the investment.
Having specific and measurable personal development goals shows that you’re not only motivated to succeed in your current position, but that you’re also open to learning new roles and growing with the company. Provide general ideas about the skills you want to develop, the types of roles you would like to be in and things you would like to have accomplished.
Avoid clichés or jokes like: “I just want to do the best work I can” or “I would like to be in your position”

Rather say: “Within five years, I would like to be an expert in terms of product knowledge and develop close relationships with my clients. I aim to significantly expand the client base in my region.”
Or –
“My goal is to be in a position where I can take on new challenges and responsibilities, so I’m on the lookout for opportunities to develop in-depth skills in my field.”

In our next article, we’ll wrap up the Q&A’s.

Stay safe!

The Interview Part 2

The Interview Part 2

Your interview is going well, you’ve told your interviewer who you are and what your strengths are – but now comes the dreaded:

3) What are your weaknesses:
This is an opportunity for you to turn a negative into a positive, keep your answer brief and don’t dwell too much on the weakness. As hard as this one is, make sure that you are honest with your response. As much as we like to think that we have no faults, don’t be afraid to let yourself be a little vulnerable—acknowledging your flaws shows that you value self-reflection and personal growth. Give this answer some thought and then importantly, also add what you are doing to overcome the weakness.
For example:
You always run late, but now you have set all your clocks ten minutes fast and constant alarms on your cellphone.

4) Why do you want to work with us:
Now is your chance to really impress. You’ve done your reach, you know a bit about the company so tie your answer in with what you’ve learnt. But again, be honest.
Perhaps the company is involved in charity work and this resonates with you. Or, they have posted very successful financials for the past few years and you’d like to be part of a successful enterprise with room for advancement.

5) What makes you the ideal candidate for this position:
Interviewers ask this kind of question to understand what specific skills or qualities make you stand out from the other candidates, especially if you are one of many candidates with the same qualifications. Review the company job description, paying specific attention to the required qualifications and skills of an ideal candidate. Highlight where you have demonstrated success in meeting these skills and qualifications in your prior positions.
For example:
If the company is looking for someone to increase sales by ten percent, provide concrete examples where you’ve landed major accounts or increased company revenue.
Try to avoid generic and generalised answers, such as I am great at sales and enjoy inter-acting with customers.

More potential Q&A’s will continue in our next article.

Stay safe!

The Interview

The Interview

You’ve been applying for positions, and finally that call comes that you have been waiting for. You are invited to attend an interview – now what?

We will cover this over the next few weeks, assisting you with preparation through to the follow-up.

Before the Interview:

The first step is to research the company, make sure you know where they are situated and that they are legitimate. Then go onto their website or social media platforms and learn about the company’s mission, goals, their culture and their management structure. Organisations look to hire people with similar values and being able to discuss these points will impress the interviewer.

Then go back to the job advert and read through the description, this will prepare you for any questions they might ask. Also take the time to review your CV, make sure you know off-hand the information in your CV.

One of the most important points is to prepare potential questions you may be asked and how you will answer these. Align your answers with the details in your CV and their job description, but also always be honest. To be better prepared, you can ask a family member or friend to mock interview you, using these questions.


Potential questions and how to reply:

  • Tell me about yourself:

An interviewer’s favourite opening question, but this is to get to know you and to break the ice. So maybe start with something personal and interesting, as an example – if your research revealed that they are a company that cares about the environment, tell them about your recycling habits. Volunteer work, charity initiatives and community upliftment is always a good conversation starter. Also personal achievements – running the comrades, local boxing champion, selling a personal painting, or similar. You can then ease into personal traits that also relate to business – I consider myself to be friendly, dependable, hard-working, positive, etc.


  • What are your strengths:

Here’s your chance to elaborate on the qualities that make you a good employee, so discuss attributes that will best qualify you for the specific job and set you apart from the other candidates. On your list you can include your education, soft skills, hard skills or past work experiences. Keep your list to five or six particularly strong skills and next to each skill, write an example of how you applied that strength.
An example:
I pride myself on my customer service skills, with five years’ experience as a customer service agent I have learned to understand and resolve customer issues effectively. I also have strong communication skills, which help me to work well with customers, team members and management.

Potential Q&A’s will continue in our next article.

Stay safe!

Applying for a Job

Applying for a Job

Your CV is polished and your Cover Letter is professional, now you want to start looking for suitable positions.

There are many options to consider – you can browse through:

  1. Social Media

LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are very popular platforms for networking, they provide an interactive and responsive avenue when job hunting. A word of warning though, be watchful of what you place on these sites.

For example, if you see a job on Facebook that you like – read the advert very carefully. If it asks you to follow a link, apply online or email the advertiser directly, do not comment with your cellphone number or say ‘interested’, this will create a bad impression and you will not be considered.

Potential employers also use social media to vet their candidates, so please ensure that your footprint is clean. Rather remove profanities, inappropriate pictures, political or topical rants that could be viewed as offensive.

Use your real name, avoid cute nicknames or ‘cool’ identities.

When it comes to LinkedIn, set up a profile that is professional and closely linked to your CV. Set up specific key words on your profile that accurately suit the type of position that you are looking for.


  1. Job Portals

Job portals expose you to a vast variety of positions within South Africa and abroad with the option of searching through hundreds of new positions. You can register your CV online, which may be viewed by any number of employers and recruiters, thus increasing your chances of getting noticed.


  1. Recruitment Agents

There are many reputable recruitment agencies in South Africa that are hired by employers to advertise vacancies and vet incoming applicants. It is advisable to register your CV with a recruitment agent in the event that they receive a position that matches your skill set. You can also browse through their available jobs on their websites and Facebook sites.


  1. Newspapers

Job classified sections of the paper can be viewed locally in the newspaper, or nationally online. The advantage of your local news print is that the employer focuses on a specific geographic audience and is usually looking to hire locally.


  1. Networking

Chat to your friends, family, social groups, church members, etc. and let them know that you are available. Word of mouth job referrals are possibly one of the most successful ways employers fill their job vacancies.


  1. Market your CV

Is there a company or specific industry that you have always wanted to work for?

Visit their corporate website or Facebook page to see if there are any openings, or try contacting their HR department to enquire about any opportunities. If there are no jobs, politely ask if you may send your CV for future reference. Be sure to have researched information regarding the company and what value you can offer the organisation.


There are a lot of new positions posted daily on these platforms, so job hunting can become a bit daunting. Perhaps refine your search criteria using keywords.

Don’t make the mistake of applying for everything you think you may like – this will become tedious and soul destroying.

When you find the right position and you are ready to send off your CV and cover letter, or an online CV – please read through the requirements to ensure that you match with most of them. Then check the application instructions – don’t send through unnecessary documents and qualifications if it is not asked for. This may get you eliminated from the short-listing process as it will just annoy the recruiter, and it indicates that you do not follow instructions.


A very important point to remember when applying for a job is to use a reference – either the job title or the specific reference in the advert that has been indicated by the recruiter. Please do not just send your application or CV without any indication of why you are applying. Many agents advertise more than one position and they do not have time to determine which job you are applying for, this will get you disqualified immediately.


We wish you success.


Stay safe.

Your Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter

Your CV is looking polished and now you want to start applying for suitable positions.

Where to from here?

Start by constructing a Cover Letter.
You should always send a cover letter to accompany your CV – unless the job advert specifically states otherwise, or you are filling in an online application.

Your cover letter is an opportunity to give the recruiter a brief glimpse of the potential success you bring with you. Your skills, experience, personality and communication skills – first impressions are key so be honest, genuine and professional.

1) Start with a warm and professional greeting:
This person is considering hiring you, so catch and keep the reader’s interest. Your opening should encourage them to think of you as someone they’d like to work with.
If they have stated their name in the advert, then make use of that, for example:
“Dear Mr. Smith,” or “Dear Lisa,”
If there is no name, then try:
“Dear H.R. Manager,” or “Dear Recruiter,”

Please avoid using generic statements like “to whom it may concern”.

2) Then get to the point:
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, split into 2 or 3 paragraphs. Be both concise and specific, let the employer know why you’re contacting them and highlight what precise skills and qualities make you a good candidate for the job. It’s a good idea to match your experience and skills to the specified job requirements as closely as possible.

As an example:
“I would like to apply for the position of Head of Advertising you recently posted. I am passionate about advertising and entered the world of printing and advertising as an apprentice. Over the course of my 22-year career, I’ve developed a skill set directly relevant to the advertised role you are hiring for.

Having been involved in press, print and through-the-line advertising, I gained experience in all the different print techniques and am fully up to date on all the older and more modern printing techniques. This has provided me with in-depth project, business, communication, leadership, strategic and critical thinking skills.

3) Your closing paragraph:
Illustrate your enthusiasm for getting the position and your availability. Then conclude with your name and contact details:

“I believe that my personal attributes and qualifications will be an asset to your organisation. Attached you will find my Curriculum Vitae for your consideration. I am available for an interview immediately, and am able to start on 1 May 2021 as required.

Mr. T. Davids
087 xxx 0000”

4) Check your information:
Before you send, take one last look at the job description.
Review grammar and spelling several times – please check and double check your spelling, it is critical that you do not make errors. This will create a bad impression with the recruiter and call into question your attention to detail, accuracy and professionalism.
Did you address all of their criteria in your cover letter?
If you were the person hiring for this position, would you hire you?
Does your information align with job requirements?

5) Useful tips:
Do not copy and paste your cover letter, tailor a different cover letter for each position.
Avoid repeating word-for-word the information that is already in your CV.
Include keywords from the job advert where possible – this is especially important to avoid being rejected by the latest screening technology.
Make it clear that you are enthusiastic about the position.
Be clear and professional.

Our next article will deal with the application process.

Stay safe.