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Now you\'ve been shortlisted

Cover of  by Denise Taylor

Now you?ve been shortlisted?

You?ve seen a job you like being advertised, sent off your application and because you tailored your CV and covering letter to that specific role you?ve been shortlisted; now you need to make sure you?re the one that gets the job offer.

You may be asked to attend an interview or it could be a full blown assessment centre including psychometric testing, group exercises and more. Understanding what to expect and careful preparation will increase your chance of success.

1. Preparation

Once you get the invitation letter, review everything you?ve already sent and see what more you can find out about the company and industry. You need to stand out from other candidates, so demonstrate that you?ve done your research ? you understand the company?s problems and how you can solve them and you will be able to ask intelligent questions. This isn?t just for people applying for senior management jobs ? it makes a difference at all job levels.

2. Psychometric tests of ability

You can increase your chance of doing well through careful preparation ? do practice tests from books and online sites. You must do these under timed conditions, so you get used to working to tight timed constraints.

It is good practice for companies to send out practice test material. So, if you don?t get them, ask!

It?s very easy to do worse than you are capable of, so understand the type of approach you need to take and make sure you really understand the instructions. Sometimes you will be penalised for wrong answers, but not always, so ask the test administrator.

Many companies will ask you to take psychometric tests in advance, using your home computer. It can be tempting to cheat but don?t! You may well need to do a second version of the test at an assessment centre.

3. Personality questionnaires

There is no ?best type? of personality; whether you need to be someone who is highly assertive or detail-conscious depends on the job you are applying for, but do portray yourself on a good day ? show the positive version of you.

There will be an in-depth discussion, so make sure you can think of examples to support what you will say. For example, if you know you are shy and reserved, prepare an example of how this can both help and hinder relationships with others, and also an example of when you have been able to overcome this character trait.

4. Assessment centres

Treat every element of the process separately; don?t let feelings of not doing well in one exercise spill over into the next one. Clear your head and treat each of the exercises that you are given independently.

5. Group activities

For group activity you must speak up; it doesn?t matter how many great ideas you have, if you don?t speak out loud nobody will know. If you know you?re more likely to be the quiet one, you could offer to be the note-taker or time-keeper to keep you more involved.

Demonstrate great team-working skills; refer to people by name, encourage the quieter people to participate and, if you disagree with someone, don?t be argumentative but make your point ? ask it as a question.

6. Role Play

If you have to do a ?role play? exercise, it is only the assessor/actor who is role playing ? you need to be yourself in the particular situation.

Prepare for this by thinking about different work situations, e.g. an underperforming member of staff or an unhappy customer. Think about how you would deal with this.

Don?t simply focus on your plan ? you need to listen and respond to what the other person says, not just what you had planned to say.

7. Written tasks

For written tasks, you often need to demonstrate commercial awareness, so prepare by reading the business press.

Pull out the key issues, these aren?t always obvious, so identify and refer to them.

8. Presentations

You never know when you may be asked to present on something with minimal preparation, so have one ready ? perhaps on a topic linked to a hobby or a time when you demonstrated leadership

If you can prepare in advance, a high standard will be expected. Don?t bore them by reading out what is on the PowerPoint presentation; use your slides to emphasise points, not to be your prompt.
Finally, make sure you get a good night?s sleep, and don?t worry too much. Think of this more of a chance to demonstrate the great things you can do, rather than a chance to fail. If you?re not successful it may be that you actually came very close. Sometimes we assessors agonise over whom to offer the job to when there?s more than one person who meets the criteria.

Brought to you by Denise Taylor, award-winning career coach and author of ?How to get a job in a recession? and ?Now you?ve been shortlisted?. Access her complimentary eProgramme ?10 steps to a job you love? from

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