Brief Encounters of the quick fire hiring kind

\One of the latest techniques to hit the job market is the speed interview. Much like speed-dating, they allow employers to screen a large number of candidates quickly. If the interview is successful, candidates are usually offered the option of attending a more traditional full-length interview.

Unsurprisingly, speed interviews are becoming increasingly popular with employers who are short on time and seeking to fill customer-focussed roles, such as sales reps or receptionists. Not only are they able to assess how well a candidate matches the skills required, but they can also get a sense of their personality, confidence and presentation style.

In a recent round of speed interviews conducted by a well-known, nationwide car dealership, candidates were given exactly three minutes with one interviewer before a bell sounded indicating it was time to move along for a chat with another interviewer – six in total.

Which is all very well for employers but - phew! - is it any wonder even the more extroverted of candidates can feel daunted at the prospect of attending one?

However, having surveyed a number of candidates who survived the ordeal, it seems the only major difference is that you must be prepared to identify in the shortest time-frame possible the skills and experience you can bring to the organisation.

In other words, just as you would prepare a killer chat-up line to snare a date, you should prepare an ‘elevator pitch’ that sells you by first doing some homework. Familiarise yourself with what the employer is looking for, and then match this to what you have to offer in 150 words or less.

A good pitch will tell the employer why you’re uniquely qualified for the position. It should also convey the benefits that you'll bring to their organisation.

Developing an effective elevator pitch may take some practice. But doing so will help you gain confidence and improve the flow. Remember, you need to impress quickly so practise, practise, and practise.

And when you’re done practising, you might like to consider doing the following:

CV: Bring a few spare copies with you on the day. Make sure they’re clean and bang up to date.

Appearance: Being told to just ‘turn up on the day’ is not a free-pass to casual wear. The best approach is to dress professionally - as though you’re going to work. Most people today would describe this as business casual.

Eyes and posture: Maintain eye contact and exercise good posture.

Manners: Shake hands with everyone you meet and make sure to thank them for their time and consideration.

Listen: Pay close attention in order to respond appropriately to the question asked.

Questions: Be prepared to ask about the organisation and the job. Leave questions about salary and holidays for another time.

Follow-up: Collect business cards so you can follow up with a thank you letter – preferably one that sells you for the position.

By taking the time to do some research and prepare for a speed interview you stand a much better chance of using the opportunity effectively. Decide in advance what the organisation is looking for and match this to what you have. This alone will give you the confidence to smile and show off your personality.

Sli Nua Careers work with clients to produce innovative job-searching strategies. They have offices in Dublin, Galway and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. You can also obtain their free eBook providing Job Searching Tips by emailing [email protected] slinuacarers.com with Job Searching eBook in the subject line.

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