Four top tips to help you excel as a candidate
I’m Anna and I’m a lead test engineer at Kainos. I have over ten years’ experience working as tester and have been involved with recruitment at Kainos for the last three years. In that time I have interviewed literally hundreds of candidates, so I thought I would share with you some useful hints, tips and secrets from my experience as a technical recruiter.
Keep your CV relevant
I know you want to impress us with your breadth of experience, but a long CV with too much detail can actually be a bad thing. I’m a human being, and there’s only so much information I can process, so please don’t send a CV that’s more like a history novel. (My record for “longest CV received” was 12 pages long!)
What I am really interested in is your experience in last couple of years and, even more importantly, the experience which is relevant to the job you have applied for. Does the hiring manager really need to know that you worked in a coffee shop ten years ago?
Similarly, make sure your CV highlights how your skills fit the position. For example, if you are applying for senior test automation engineer, consider if the ability to make PowerPoint presentations will be seen as a relevant achievement.
If you have many years of experience or you have worked on many projects and companies, please think what is important for that role and which irrelevant information only makes noise on your application. Before submitting, think “Can the hiring manager quickly see that I’m a good fit for this role?”
It’s not uncommon to put a little bit of ‘colour’ into your CV. After all, everyone wants to look good on paper so that they will be selected for the interview. And in my experience of CVs, as Hugh Laurie’s Dr House says… “everybody lies”. But my advice would be not to fall into the trap of adding these embellishments.
Our recruitment process consists of two parts – a phone interview and what we call a full interview. Both parts are carried out by technical people experienced in interviewing. Before this, we’ll review the CVs independently of each other. That means that you should be prepared to answer questions about anything and everything you put into your CV – and it means that if you have embellished your CV, you’ll be caught out!
So if you put “SQL” under your skills, but you only know basic queries like ‘Select * from TABLE’, maybe it shouldn’t be there!
Listen to the questions carefully
We are not your enemy! We’re really trying to help you during the interview. We ask lots of questions in order to learn about your skills, and to help you demonstrate your understanding of testing. And some of the technical questions are deliberately there to help you towards the right answer.
So don’t be afraid to say that you don’t understand a question, and if you need to, take a moment to think about the way we’ve phrased it, to make sure you’re answering the best way you can.
Be yourself in the interview
The interview process is not easy. It’s not as simple as ‘true or false’, ‘0 or 1’, ‘black or white’. There are different shades of grey in between, and some decimal points!
We can read a lot your technical skills from your CV but there’s one thing that we can’t get from there – what you are really like.
When interviewing, I’m constantly asking myself: “Would we like to work with this candidate?” Your personality and values are very important. Kainos employees are great people who enjoy working together.
Very often we meet someone special, who would fit well into the team and would be good to work with, but may fall short on a few answers. But we can see their potential, and that’s why that person may still get the job. So even if you feel like you don’t meet the technical requirements 100%, apply anyway – you may still soon find yourself a part of Kainos family.
So hopefully this has given you an insight into to how the recruitment process looks from ‘the other side’. If you haven’t been looking for a job for very long, or don’t have much interview experience, following these simple tips will help you to prepare better for your upcoming interviews. They may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how often candidates miss them!
So now you know our recruitment secrets, you’ve got no excuse: don’t hesitate to apply for one of the roles we are currently recruiting for. Who knows – maybe you’ll be Kainos’ next employee!
Anna has worked at Kainos since 2014. She works in Digital Services as a Lead Test Engineer across GDS transformation projects.
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