Our Top Tips

colm caveyView the various articles and blogs written in our Top-Tips which are mostly comments on some of the less obvious issues relating to work, career change and/or job searching. Less obvious - yes, but important nonetheless.

The links to all these articles are on the drop-down menus below and listed under their relevant topics. As always, your comments are welcome.

'Top-Tips' are short extracts from the Jobdoctor's Career Change Manual all of which is freely available to all our clients.





Senior Appointment Interviews.

Careful, there are tripwires everywhere. 


I am frequently asked by people who are very concerned about their career progress as they have come up through the ranks from entry level to supervisor to team leader and now the jump into a management role is looking like a possible option.

This is where you step away from the coalface of the manufacturing line or service delivery to managing a team or a department and providing leadership.


There are two concerns that many have;


1 – Am I good enough, and can I do it?
2 – How can I go overnight from being one of the gang to telling them what to do?


In both cases, the concern is an issue of confidence or lack of.


So instead of entertaining your doubts, in your mind review your work to date, the work you did well and the resulting achievements. If you have indicated that you want to move up the ladder or there is a more senior role that you have applied for, and HR shows an interest then bear in mind you wouldn't have been invited for interview if your managers didn't think you could do it.


The longer it is since your last interview, the more it increases the need for you to prepare for this meeting very, very carefully. You are not the interviewer now; you're the interviewee. This time you answer the questions.


If the typical interview questions are worrying you, there are loads of places where you can get lots of examples. I would suggest, however, that if that is your primary concern, then you shouldn't have applied for the position. You probably won't be asked the textbook questions you read about, but you will be asked questions that are, on the face of it, quite casual but are probably very probing and a lot harder.


You will be asked about your leadership, your views on changing markets, industry problems, relevant technical issues and all sorts of other topics that apply to their particular industry sector. Without a doubt, there will be questions about finance and probably your dealings with budgets and costing at the lower level and on up to accounts, shareholders, auditors, banking and financial administration at a higher level.


That being the case do not fall into some of the traps that often catches out senior people at interview.


1 – You may be well aware that you know as much, if not more, about the job than the interviewer.
While that may be true, never compete with the interviewer in the knowledge stakes.

Show your experience and understanding by recounting events from the past, how you dealt with them and your successes. Then stop at that. Do not try to compete; it will only irritate your interviewer. He/she could soon be your new Boss, possibly the CEO.


2 – Always remember that until you hear the words "you're hired" you are still being interviewed. With the advent of coronavirus, most interviews are now carried out by Skype or other means. This interview method brings with it other difficulties of a kind. Face-time interviews are very impersonal, and it is difficult to sell yourself, never mind your skills. That, however, that is a subject for another time.


The more senior-level appointments are usually quite civilised, and at senior levels, there will probably be a last one or two interview meetings in person. With Covid19 in mind, such meetings may be off-site and at a carefully selected and more relaxed venue. They often take the form of a discussion rather than that of the formal interview procedure. Your interviewer may be a Head of Function, an MD or the CEO, and so formats are unlikely to be formal or structured.


Don't be lulled by the opulent surroundings. Don't compete with your interviewers, whether it be work-related or by making an unnecessary negative comment about any place or thing.


While these people may have a more relaxed manner, don't ever forget that they are as sharp as razors and will see, hear and assimilate every word you say.


They will also be keenly aware of the fact that they will be working very close to whoever they hire for a considerable time to come. Therefore personality type and "get along ability" factors will count for a lot. Be nice, be professional, knowledgeable, non-critical and friendly but all the while, be very business-like. Don't let your guard drop or be tempted to try to tell a better joke than the interviewer if the conversation goes that way.


If the meeting is scheduled over lunch or dinner, mind your table manners. This might seem like a silly comment but believe me; you just cannot credit how many well turned out executives let themselves down badly by showing absolutely no awareness of table manners or etiquette.


3 – Make sure every reference point in your life is in order. Google your name and check if you have been quoted on some issue from the past?
Check your LinkedIn profile or any other social media that you use. Ensure it's all squeaky clean. If it's not, tidy it up fast.


4 – If you ever had a business that closed, remember that creditors meetings, judgements or orders against you can all be checked quite easily. They are all on record. If and when asked about your leaving your current job, don't say you were made an offer you couldn't refuse for that "fantastically successful" business you had, and which happened to get a mention in the Gazette.


5In your pocket, have a page with 3/4 referees names, titles, work address and contact numbers available and neatly typed out. Presumably, they will be good ones of your own choice. The chances are if they make a reference check, they will start with your list because you have made it easy for them, with all the names and phone numbers laid out, which will work well for you.


6 – There are many the other obvious and not so apparent, rules about attending interviews. You may think that arriving on time with a clean, crisp shirt or blouse, polished shoes are obvious. Have you double checked the address where you are to attend? Companies often have multiple offices around town. Is there petrol in the car? Adding oil at a garage on the way to interview is a sure way to mess up a clean outfit and also ensure you will be late. They are all so obvious; they are frequently overlooked. Leave nothing to chance.


7 – Most importantly, know your CV thoroughly. Know every line of it so you can respond quickly to any question about your experience. Also, at your meeting, don't forget to smile from time to time. No one wants to hire a gloomy old grump. Would you?


8 – Turn off your mobile phone before entering the building. The world won't stop turning.


Further information about the author, Colm Cavey can be seen below and also at


The very best of luck. 


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