Q: I am a recently-qualified teacher, but I’m finding it hard to get on the career ladder. I prepare a full class plan for all my classes, and I have also compiled a number of PowerPoint slides for use in my classes. Should I bring these with me to interview? (Tony, email)
A: In a word, yes – well, yes, almost: it might be no harm to check with the interview panel beforehand if they have any objections to you bringing in a portfolio. In some cases, they may wish to extend the same opportunity to others so that they are not accused of allowing one candidate to have an unfair advantage over others. It would be best to know the lie of the land beforehand because being asked to put your portfolio away could create a negative atmosphere at the start of the interview.
Anything you can produce that shows you to be professional and thorough in how you go about your work should be deployed in the interview. It will impress the interviewers, and perhaps set you apart from others.
Of course, there may not be a projector in the interview room, so to get around this, print off some of your PowerPoint slides and bring them with you. Arrange them, and your class plans, in a neat folder that you can leave with the interviewers – don’t ask to bring it with you when you’re leaving the interview. It could be just the legacy that would leave a lasting impression – and it can’t do you any harm whatsoever.
Keep the folder brief. The main dangers of putting in too much are that you are asking the interviewers to wade through too much information – and, also, it will detract from the key information therein. So select the three or four items you’d really like them to see, and just put those in.
Taking time to say thanks could work for you
Last week, we talked about sending a ‘thank you’ note to the company or organisation after you’ve been unsuccessful in interview. It prompted a query from one reader – should you send a ‘thank you’ note in the time between the interview taking place, and the decision being announced?
There are different schools of thoughts on this. One is that it is unduly ‘forward’ and might even have the effect of scaring off the potential employers.
I think the key issue is the tone of the note or letter. I think the tone should really be courteous, brief, and complimentary – wishing the company well, thanking them for the opportunity to compete for the position, saying how much you enjoyed the process, how much you learned from it, and how you would welcome the opportunity to work there, if successful.
Ultimately, it’s your call whether you send this letter or not. If you feel comfortable with it, do it. If not, don’t. It must be consistent with your personality type.
We have compiled a number of sample ‘thank you’ letters that might be sent out in the inter regnum between interview and D-day. If you’d like a copy of those samples, email GetThatJob@SliNuaCareers.com with ‘thank you’ in the subject line.
Facing the music
A client recently told us of how she got, in her own words, ‘some land’ when she walked into an interview room to find not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, but seven interviewers facing her.
“I didn’t know how to react,” she said, “and what was worse, they told me they would only have 15 minutes for the interview. I thought it might take 15 minutes for them just to introduce themselves!”
So what do you do in that situation? You do what you are prepared to do: you tell them you know what they’re looking for in this job, and you prove to them you have just that. Direct your answers to all seven, scanning across them as you speak, and concentrating primarily on transmitting the information you know they need to hear.
They may compete with each other to get questions in, but you must remain focussed on telling them what you decided beforehand to tell them.
Sli Nua Careers (Watson’s Lane, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo / Drum East, Bushy Park, Galway) tel 094 95 42965 /091 528 883, www.SliNuaCareers.com) help candidates get jobs by carrying out professional CV Preparation (face-to-face and online) and Interview Training (face-to-face and via Skype/video link-up).
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