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How To Handle Short-List Interviews

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Just like preliminary interviews, short-list interviews can take practically any form. At one end of the spectrum, they can be a one-on-one interview with the interviewer who saw you the first time. At the other extreme, they can be a full blown panel session with you sitting in the lonely space in front of a long table surrounded by faces you have never seen before.
Characteristics of Short-List Interviews

Given their diversity, it is hard to make generalisations about short-list interviews and the form they will take. However, the following points are worth noting:

  • With fewer candidates to see, time constraints are less of an issue. Either longer time slots will be allocated to each interview or candidates will be seen on separate occasions instead of in a string of interviews. Alternatively, the interviews will be allowed to over run because the knock-on effects will be less serious.
  • The purpose of the interview is to decide who to offer the job to (rather than to assess ‘broad suitability).

Keep Up the Good Work
A short-list interview is very much a case of carrying on where you left off at the end of the first interview. In other words, you have done well up to now so keep going (keep up the good work). Focus on what got you this far and aim to give the employers more of the same.
Will Anything Help You?

  • Remember the engagement factors and do your best to be you (in a close run match, the job could be offered to the candidate who the employer feels most comfortable with and this is unlikely to be someone who comes across as a cardboard cutout).
  • Do not do anything that could put dents in your credibility. Again look at your CV and application form before you go to the interview, so that you are fully briefed on everything you have said about yourself. In addition, try to recall the answers to questions you gave at the first interview, so that you do not fall into the trap of giving conflicting information.
  • Remember the need to put clear space between you and the other candidates on the short-list. Do this by drawing attention to areas where you feel you may have the advantage.

Where Professionals Could Come to your Rescue

Where professionals (e.g. consultants, human resources specialists) have been involved in the early stages of selection, it is not unusual to find that they ‘sit in’ at the short-list stage. They may take a back seat, while most of the grilling is done by the line manager responsible for making the appointment. Where this happens, the professional will tend to have a vested interest in making sure that you come across in your best possible light because it shows that they made the right decision to put you on the short-list. This could include coming to your rescue if you start to flounder. Prick your ears up, therefore, if the professional who shortlisted you asks you a question. It could be a nudge to repair an omission or some damage you have inflicted on yourself unknowingly.
Post-Interview Availability

Do not go off on holiday or do anything else that could render you uncontactable in the period immediately following short-list interview. If a holiday is pre-booked (i.e. unavoidable), make sure you tell the employer and give your date of return. Do not risk being away when the employer tries to put the job offer in your hands.

Janet Moonly is working as an assistant manager from a well-known company. Ivy Exec have given her the best job opportunity.

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