Resume Building

The resume is often the first contact a prospective employer or recruitment consultant has with any candidate. This is your opportunity to quickly gain their interest, display your experience, qualifications and skills whilst retaining their attention. Below are a number of tips on building a resume that will gain and retain interest and provide all the relevant details whilst remaining brief. It is also worth noting that if you are responding directly to a specific job advertisement, the importance of a covering letter highlighting particular aspects of your resume is often a valuable addition to your application.

Personal Information

  • Name and all contact details (including mobile numbers and e-mail addresses).
  • Educational history and qualifications (including professional qualifications).
  • Industry/training courses.
  • Memberships/Associations.
  • Other languages (spoken and/or written).
  • Hobbies/interests.
  • There is no requirement to include information about your age, marital/parental status or religion.

Top Resume Tips

  • Eliminate ‘typos’, spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. Ask someone you trust to proof read it for you.
  • Make a good first impression, you have a limited amount of ‘initial interest time’, use it wisely.
  • Keep it brief. Few people have time to read a 20-page resume, be efficient with your information.
  • Focus your resume on your most recent experience, keep it brief for anything over 10 years.
  • Quantify experience and achievements with facts and figures to show how you performed.
  • Give the reader a chance to see your written communication skills. Be organised, logical and concise.
  • Use simple language; do not try to impress with exorbitant vocabulary.
  • Be honest, nothing turns an interview sour more quickly than the uncovering of exaggeration or the stretching of the truth on resumes.
  • Be balanced, neat and structured. Make it easy on and appealing to the eye. This is your opportunity to sell yourself. Emphasise previous wins, promotions and rare skillsets. Make yourself very difficult to disregard.


Interview Advice

Interviews are the ultimate opportunity to market and sell yourself by demonstrating what your skills, experience and qualifications can do for the company. It is an opportunity to engage in an open discussion to determine if the position and organisation is right for you.

The key to a successful interview is preparation and there is no excuse for a candidate possessing little or no information about the company they are interviewing with.


  • Do your research. Understand the company’s products and services, competitors and financials. Refer to:
    • Annual reports
    • Investor presentations and Press Releases
    • Corporate websites and online research
    • Your professional network
    • Business publications (eg Australian Financial Review, BRW or Who’s Who)
  • Know your remuneration package. Be able to explain your worth and prove your remuneration.
  • Prepare accomplishment statements. Practice examples of your experience and achievements using methodologies such as:
    • STAR (Situation, Task, Action & Result)
    • SOARs (Situation, Obstacles, Actions & Results)
  • Ask questions. Think ahead and prepare a list of questions you may want to know, such as:
    • Why has the position become available?
    • What situations need immediate attention?
    • What training and induction programs will be provided?
    • What are the reporting relationships?
    • What is the most important contribution you expect from me in the first 6 months?
    • How would you describe the corporate culture?
    • What is the next step?


First impressions can be made within seconds of a meeting so think about the image you wish to portray through verbal and non-verbal communication.

  • Dress conservatively in smart business attire
  • Pay attention to personal grooming
  • Maintain eye contact, smile and use open body language
  • Show interest, optimism and enthusiasm
  • Listen carefully throughout your meeting
  • Be confident, relaxed and positive

Initial Greeting

  • Arrive on time
  • Know the interviewer’s correct title and pronunciation of their name
  • Make eye contact and smile
  • Have a firm handshake
  • Establish rapport quickly with friendly small talk

Types of Interview

  • The Screening Interview – an initial discussion or meeting to determine whether or not you should be considered more seriously as a candidate
  • The Behaviour-based Interview – a detailed approach where the interviewer rates candidates on evidence of Technical skills and Performance skills
  • The Case Interview – candidates are introduced to a business dilemma and asked to analyse the situation and discuss how they would address the problem
  • The Panel Interview – involves multiple interviewers in a group setting and requires candidates to adopt more of a presentation style to the audience

Interview Strategy

Traditionally the interviewer will be looking for three things during an interview and these provide an opportunity to consider if this is the right job for you:

  • Competence – the skills and ability to do the job
  • Compatibility – the ability to relate with the company’s culture
  • Chemistry – the interpersonal fit

The Interview

  • No two interviewers have the same style so let them take control of the flow whilst you actively participate
  • Uncover as much information as possible about the position before going into detail on your background
  • During the interview, you will be assessed on your strengths and weaknesses as well as personal characteristics such as attitude, aptitude, stability, motivation and maturity.
  • After the interviewer has asked about your experience, skills and competencies and delved into your strengths and weaknesses, it is then opportune to talk about the specific role.
  • Do not initiate discussions on remuneration at the first interview stage, however be open and honest if asked.
  • When dealing with interview panels maintain eye contact with all equally, even if one individual is doing the majority of the talking.
  • If you are interested in the position enquire about the next interview stage
  • If the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, be prepared to accept it there and then, although this is more typical for contract and temporary roles. If you wish for some time to think it over, be tactful and courteous in asking for that time.
  • Leave the interviewer with a good final impression, smile and give a firm handshake. Do not make the mistake of relaxing too early and undoing all your previous hard work.

Interview “Do’s”

  • Arrive on time
  • Greet the interviewer by their name and shake hands firmly
  • Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting
  • Sit upright and look alert and interested
  • Be friendly, confident and relaxed
  • Listen actively
  • Make and maintain eye contact and smile, let them feel that you are enjoying the process whilst taking it seriously.
  • Follow the interviewer’s leads and make sure that your good points get across to the interviewer in a concise, factual and sincere manner.
  • Conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you Interview


  • Be late
  • Be over friendly or dominate the interview
  • Answer with a ”yes” or ”no”. Explain yourself whenever possible
  • Over answer. Make your comments relevant and to the point
  • Lie. Answer questions truthfully and admit if there is something you do not know
  • Be negative or critical of your present or former employers
  • Use the term “we” when you are talking about your own achievements
  • Avoid making general statements that lack any substance
  • Enquire about remuneration at the initial interview unless you are positive that the interviewer wants to hire you
  • Slouch, fidget, mumble or answer that mobile phone you forgot to turn off

After The Interview

  • Call Callaways. Immediately after the interview discuss with your consultant how you feel it went, what you did well, what you wish you had done differently and how interested you are in the role. This is a chance for the consultant to give extra feedback to the company to further establish your suitability for the role.
  • Follow Up. You may choose to follow up via letter or e-mail, regardless of how you feel it went. It is an opportunity to thank the interviewer for their time, recap on salient points, add points not covered, express your level of interest and to leave a good final impression.

Interview Questions

Before attending an interview anticipate questions you might be asked and prepare answers to each. It is important to answer questions honestly and precisely as possible. Preparation will significantly help reduce stress and enable you to feel confident in your answers.

Traditional Interviewing Questions

These are typically broad questions which have straight forward answer and enable the interviewer and candidate to build rapport and get to know each other.

Examples of Traditional Questions

1. Your background, skills and experience

  • Tell me about your last job?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • Why are you looking to leave your current position?

2. Your goals and objectives

  • What would your ideal career position be?
  • What are you looking to get out of this role?
  • Where do you want to be in 5 years time?

3. Your education and training

  • What formal education or training have you had?
  • How is your training relevant for this position?
  • What additional training are you looking for?

4. Your weaknesses and development areas

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What do you think your limitations are and what have you done to improve them?

5. Sensitive issues

  • What did you dislike about your previous job and/or employer?
  • What would your last manager say about you?
  • How do you handle criticism?

Behavioural Interviewing Questions

Behavioural based questions focus on how a candidate acted in specific employment related situation with the goal to discover “core skills” that are needed to succeed in a role.

Provide detailed examples of a situation that you were involved in and avoid general answers as answers are matched to specific role requirements, business objectives and company culture. Consider the job description when assessing what behaviour questions the interviewer may ask.

Examples of Behavioural Questions

1. Coping with pressure

  • Describe a time when you were faced with stress at work that tested your coping skills. What did you do?
  • Tell me about a time when you were not able to meet a deadline

2. Problem Solving

  • Give me an example of a time you had to be relatively quick in coming to a decision
  • Tell me about a time you were able to anticipate a problem. How did you know the problem was likely to occur and what did you do?

3. Drive and motivation

  • Give me an example of an important goal you had to set. 
How did you reach that goal?
  • What motivates you to put forward your greatest effort?

4. Handling conflict

  • Tell me about a situation in the past year in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker and how you resolved it
  • Give me an example of how you typical dealing with conflict?

5. Team Work

  • Describe a contribution you have made to a project on which you have worked
  • Describe an occasion when you had difficulties working in a team.
 How did you respond and what was the outcome?

First 100 Days

In their book, “You’re in Charge, Now What?”, Neff and Citrin point out that the first 100 days is essentially a honeymoon period. It’s a time when executives are expected to make changes and bring a fresh outlook to the position. It is also a time for establishing a sturdy foundation for the future. They set forth 8 simple rules for the first 100 days agenda:

  • 1. Listen – ask as many questions as you can.
  • 2. Resist the saviour syndrome – now is not the time to be bold
  • 3. Keep it simple – provide a few key priorities to establish focus
  • 4. Hit pause – wait a moment before answering every question and get back to those whose answers you did not have
  • 5. Look for quick wins – find a few flaws to fix fast
  • 6. Spell it out – use management meetings in the beginning to establish expectations and set the tone
  • 7. Don’t dis your predecessor – no more explanation necessary
  • 8. Give feedback – take what you learn and communicate back to the company

The executive position, with its pitfalls and do’s and don’ts is also a landscape for surprises. In fact, Michael E. Porter, Jay W. Lorsch and Nitin Nohria of Harvard’s Graduate School of Business Administration have identified some surprises new leaders should expect (and the warning signs to tell whether an adjustment needs to be made):

  • Surprise #1: You Can’t Run the Company
    Warning Sign: Involvement in too many meetings and too many tactical discussions
  • Surprise #2: Giving Orders is Very Costly
    Warning Sign: Employees are too eager to seek out your advice before they act
  • Surprise #3: It’s Hard to Know What’s Really Going On
    Warning Sign: You learn about things after the fact
  • Surprise #4: You are Always Sending a Message
    Warning Sign: Colleagues around you act in ways that seem like they are trying to determine your likes and dislikes
  • Surprise #5: Pleasing Shareholders is Not the Goal
    Warning Sign: Executives and board members judge actions in relation to impact on stock price
  • Surprise #6: You are Still Only Human
    Warning Sign: You give interviews about you, not about the company

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