Article by Kate Thrumble, Director of Talent, EMEA at R/GA

CV writingThe onset of Covid-19 has fundamentally and irrevocably changed the way we work. And it’s yet to be seen how it affects the way we hire.

With in-person interviews becoming logistically challenging, it’s more important now than ever to make an impression during your initial contact with a new company: the CV, and that first interview. R/GA London’s Director of Talent, Kate Thrumble, has dedicated her work to helping women overcome barriers to career progression, both internally and externally, and here shares her advice for how to plan for success…

Ultimately, there are two key things to remember. With the CV (which is ultimately the paper version of you) and the initial interview (the 4D version of you), you need to:

  1. Step into the role you want, not the one you have, and
  2. Learn to co-drive. An interview is a two way thing.

Step into who you are

Don’t minimise yourself or carry previous workplace baggage. Leave that at the door or preferably in the rubbish bin on the way in. Women, more than men, fall into the trap of using minimising words such as ‘maybe, possibly, might, just’. Don’t sabotage yourself. Think about your language and try out phrases like “I’m confident/I’m convinced/I strongly believe”.

The same goes for your CV: be punchy and to the point. Think about the role you are going for and whether your CV matches that clearly. The role needs management experience which you don’t have? Pull on every aspect of your role that reflects this, even if you aren’t a manager (yet). Use mentoring, proactive sessions to help more junior talent or buddy systems to illustrate how you can transfer your skills. This might mean having a number of CVs so the most appropriate one is sent out.

Keep it tidy

With your CV, be smart about the space being used. Use the header for your name and contact details so they are easy to find at a glance. Don’t leave in the paragraph you wrote about being a keen diver if actually you haven’t been diving in 10 years!

For your interview, think of 3-5 examples where you have really done a good job. You’ll find that you can use them as examples to answer almost all interview questions. Think about the structure of your answers. It’s so easy to waffle – try the Situation, Task, Action, Result model (or STAR for ease). Think of what the situation was to give the context, what were you being asked to do, what was the action and then what happened in the end.

Silence your inner critic 

Those voices inside saying you aren’t senior enough? You aren’t cool enough for this brand? You are too old? Too young? Too female?! STOP.

If the interviewee asks you a question which triggers any of your insecurities then take a step back and think about what you would logically do. Act as if you are giving a friend advice. For example, if your hang up is that you’re too young and you get asked about something you don’t have experience in, take a step back and think about how you would logically respond in that situation, and try to weave in aspects of your experience as evidence to support your response.

To make sure you leave the interview knowing that you got what you need and gave it your best shot, be brave and ask: “Have you got any reservations about me that we can use the remaining time to address?”. A question like this allows you to cover off anything that might have been missed, and can help to quieten that inevitable post interview noise in your mind: “I wish I hadn’t said that, why didn’t I talk about this?”

Be authentic

Ask the questions you want to ask, not the ones you should ask. If you don’t actually care why the interviewee loves working there then don’t ask the question. Use the time as you want to — you will find you get a lot more out of it.

Take the driving seat. Jump in with questions — a two way dialogue can make the whole thing feel a lot more relaxed. Remember an interview is a two way thing, often people forget this. Just as going on a date isn’t solely about you getting the person to like you, you have to like them too!

Final thought

The last tip, although it sounds corny and cheesy I promise it helps – write on a piece of paper ‘You’ve got this’. Put it somewhere you can easily touch during the interview, like your pocket. If you are having one of those panic moments during the interview, touch it or just remind yourself it’s there and then think how proud 12 year old you would be right now – look how far you have come.

Kate ThrumbleAbout the author

As R/GA London’s Director of Talent, Kate is responsible for developing, implementing, and leading the people strategy for the office. As a member of the executive team, Kate is also responsible for the talent planning and retention efforts across R/GA’s EMEA region.

An experienced human resources professional with over 13 years’ experience spanning five industries, Kate joined R/GA from Momentum UK, where she previously headed up the Talent team and was responsible for the full employee life cycle from attraction, retention and exit. Kate was also a board member at Momentum. Throughout her time at Momentum, Kate partnered on a number of global projects leading to greater cohesion and development of standards across many of the different in terms of its people practices. Prior to joining Momentum, Kate worked in-house at Burberry and Hearst Magazines. A well-respected thought leader in the industry, Kate has collaborated with industry organisations such as Creative Equals over the years, as well as being a contributor to industry publications such as Campaign Magazine and The Drum.

Kate holds an MA in Human Resource Management from The University of Westminster and is a certified predictive index analyst.

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