5 ways your CV is ruining your interviews

Your CV should form the basis of a great interview

Mon, August 25th, 10:24

   

The first thing most interviewers will ask you to do is run through your CV. This is an opportunity to highlight your successes and identify topics that fit your strengths and demonstrate why you are a good fit for the role. However, if you are not careful it could end up tripping you up instead.

Long gaps in employment

Many people take time out from their careers at some point. Whether you travelled, took a career break or worked in roles you don’t deem relevant enough to include on your CV; make sure that you are prepared to explain any gaps on your CV. The gaps themselves aren’t a problem if you have the required experience and skills for the role. However, it can be a problem if your response to the question is a long ‘Eh’. If you do have gaps in your employment, for any reason, be prepared to discuss it and have a full, truthful, explanation ready.

Standard personal profile

Every CV should include a brief personal profile or statement that gives an overview of who you are and your overall career goals. This section will be a recruiter’s first snapshot of you as an individual. Ideally, this profile should be tailored to each application, with a focus on the career goals that the role you are applying to will fulfil. However, many people write a standard personal profile and use it for every single job. This can be dangerous if you apply for roles at different levels or in different industries. You don’t want to try and answer a question like; ‘It says on your profile that you are ready to step into management but you wouldn’t have anyone reporting to you in this role, would you see that as a backward step?’

Lies

The obvious factor that can catch you out in an interview is an outright lie. Don’t make things up and put them on your CV, even if you’re not caught out in the interview you may well be caught out when you try to do the job. It really isn’t worth it.

Overselling

The more accepted side of ‘lies’ on your CV are the times when you oversell your responsibilities or the complexity of a role to try to ‘beef up’ your CV. The problem with this approach is that you don’t know how much an interviewer might focus on the oversold parts of your CV, so you could end up being asked about a role you were very successful in but in the wrong context. That will leave you trying to justify the oversold nature of your CV, rather than doing what you should be doing which is selling the abilities you actually have.

Underselling

Even though the CV is a sales document, you often get candidates who totally undersell themselves. Your CV is designed to sell you as a candidate, it’s not enough to just list the duties you performed in each job; you need to highlight your successes. If you don’t do that, you risk an interviewer focusing their questions on the roles that don’t properly demonstrate your abilities.

The key point to remember is that your CV is a sales document that is totally in your control. You choose what goes on it, what doesn’t and how it is pitched. If you do that right you won’t just secure more interviews, you’ll perform better in them too.

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Graham Burns

The Irish Times