Angelina Spadaro is a Human Resources (HR) professional with over 15 years of experience and 13 years of practice in Toronto. She offers personalized career coaching services and specializes in interview preparation and salary negotiations.
We’ve received excellent feedback from her clients, so we asked her to answer a few questions about the interview process in Canada!
You can find Angelina on:
- Her website (with exclusive discounts for PVTistes members on a range of job search services!)
What’s the top tip you would give to newcomers trying to land a job interview?
I actually have two tips—start networking and focus on your resume.
Because everything is connected—the posted positions you’re applying for and the hidden job market.
In fact, studies show that between 70% and 80% of jobs are never posted, which is why having a network can really bolster your job search efforts.
If you’re an introvert, just reading the word “networking” is probably making you cringe. But you don’t have to show up at various networking events if it’s not your thing, there are other options! For instance, you could:
- Let friends and relatives know you are looking for a job. I’m sure you’re using a few social networks, right? Well, you must have noticed that there’s always someone who knows someone who knows someone…
- See other non-work-related activities (language classes, informal meetup events, music classes, etc.) as a chance to network.
- Invite peers working in companies you like for quick virtual “coffee breaks” on LinkedIn.
- Network in relevant Facebook/LinkedIn groups if you’re an active community member.
Most employers will favour candidates who came recommended because it feels less risky than picking someone unknown.
And what about my resume?
Resumes are very country-specific. For instance, for legal reasons, you shouldn’t add your picture or mention your age explicitly on your Canadian resume. The way a standard resume is formatted also varies a lot around the world.
If you’re new to Canada, you should participate in a free “resume workshop” to understand what Canadian employers expect. Many organizations help newcomers “Canadianize” their resume—try cultural or community centres, or your local public library.
This is a great start to developing a Canadian version of your existing resume. And if you need more help, look into professional resume assistance for more personalized service (formatting, rewriting, etc.). It can make a huge difference in the job market.
Research showed that hiring managers spend less than 10 seconds on a resume—actually, between 6 and 8 seconds. So first impressions do matter, and hiring managers must be able to quickly locate key information to make a quick decision.
3 resume tips to stand out:
- “The power is in the numbers”
Quantifying achievements gives context and describes the complexity/volume of the task. Look at these two sentences, which one do you think is more impactful?
Reviewed resumes, pre-screened candidates, and set up interviews.
Reviewed 300+ resumes/day, pre-screened 25 candidates/week, and set up interviews.
- Bold keywords that are a perfect match for the job description
- Pick keywords carefully
About 40% of employers—and over 90% of Fortune 500 companies—use HR systems to screen resumes. If you have time, do a job description analysis, use a Word Cloud generator to quickly detect keywords in the description and tailor your resume using those same words.
Don’t forget that systems are fallible. You could be a perfect fit for the position, but your resume may never be seen by a human if the automated resume screening tool rejects it.
How many interviews should candidates expect for any given position?
It’s hard to say because each company has unique strategies and processes, and the level of flexibility varies a lot.
A candidate could have a single interview with a manager or three different interviews with 10 team members.
One unexpected silver lining in the pandemic is that video interviews have become the “new normal.” They are easier to fit into your busy schedule, you won’t need to take as much time off from your current job when interviewing with another company!
Do you have tips to stand out and be more comfortable during online job interviews?
I was doing video mock interviews with my clients long before the pandemic. Based on what I see, it only takes a few minutes for most people to be comfortable in front of a screen. By now, hopefully, after 10 months of remote work, most professionals are more confident during online meetings.
These are very basic tips. Essentially, you want to be in control as much as possible and avoid any glitch that might throw you off during the interview.
- Try out the platform you will be using for the interview beforehand (don’t get off on the wrong foot by discovering seconds before the interview that the app you’ll be using doesn’t have a Mac version!)
- Plug in your computer to avoid running out of battery halfway.
- Close all the windows on your computer.
- Put your phone on silent mode.
- Make sure you can access your resume easily (paper or digital copy) to refer to it if needed.
- Keep a glass of water handy.
- Check your background—it should be neutral and professional, you don’t want hiring managers to spend their time staring at your cluttered bedroom instead of listening to you.
- Look at the camera, not the screen. If watching yourself on video is distracting or annoying, block this part of the screen with a Post-it note.
- If you’ve already spent the day online, disconnect for a little while before your interview to avoid Zoom fatigue. Go for a walk, dance in your bedroom, do a few jumping jacks, anything that doesn’t involve staring at a screen.
- Confirm the time and time zone of the interview with the HR team. These days, you could be meeting with people anywhere in the world, and keep in mind Canada has several time zones.
On the topic of virtual interviews, do you see many companies using pre-recorded video interviews as a recruitment tool?
Companies are starting to use pre-recorded video interviews with applications such as Spark Hire, VidCruiter… again it depends on the companies’ strategies, but based on my experience, this is often used for mass hiring events or when many applications are received for positions in customer service or for admin roles.
Candidates asked to take a pre-recorded video interview won’t be facing hiring managers online. Instead, they have a set amount of time to record their answers to a series of interview questions, save the video, and submit it as part of their application.
Hiring managers will then watch the video, so you can see the exercise as a pre-screening interview. Typical questions may be “Why are you interested in working for us?,” “What makes you a good fit for the role?,” “Can you share some personal info that’s not on your resume so we can get to know you better?”
As technology is getting more and more user-friendly, expect it to become an increasingly important part of the recruiting process.
Any advice for answering interview questions?
I’m using the S.T.A.R. (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to prepare candidates for job interviews.
This method works very well for questions such as: “Give me an example of a time when you…” or “You mentioned on your resume that you had to deal with XYZ, how did you solve the issue?”
Hiring managers tend to ask questions about past experiences, successes and challenges because you’re more likely to use the same solution or make decisions based on lessons learned.
Questions like “What would you do if…?” open up the possibility of saying whatever you want and making up answers, which is good for creativity but not a good way to predict your future behaviour for the employer.
The great thing with the S.T.A.R. method is that if you are asked an unexpected question, you can use the same logic and structure to handle it and stay on point.
Are companies expecting a cover letter?
They do! Unfortunately, cover letters are not always read because hiring managers don’t have much time. That said, a strong cover letter can make the difference between “yes, let’s interview this person!” and “nope.”
Keep in mind that hiring managers have to justify their choice of candidates to executives—your resume and cover letter can be used to make a convincing case for scheduling an interview with you.
What else can help a candidate stand out?
Sending a thank-you note after an interview is always appreciated. It shows a certain level of engagement and it’s an opportunity to thank interviewers for their time, reiterate your interest in the position, highlight that you’d be a great fit with the company’s culture, and let decision-makers know you will be waiting to hear from them.
You’ve created a signature mock interview. Can you tell us a little more about it?
Of course! It all started several years ago when I was often helping friends prepare for job interviews, HR questions and salary negotiations. Most of them ended up getting what they were hoping for. I found it very rewarding to see people succeed in their chosen career path and integrate into the Canadian workforce. So I decided to start my own business and offer my skills and services as an HR professional.
I spend time analyzing job descriptions, then I send “homework” to my clients so that they can prepare for our productive and effective meeting.
I conduct a full mock interview when we meet, usually in English, but also in French.
Then I help my clients tweak their answers to make sure their accomplishments are highlighted—emphasis is put on showing the value they bring to a company in a humble but effective way.
What are the benefits of a mock interview?
At the end of our meeting, my clients:
- have the tools they need to understand the market and answer interview questions.
- feel more confident and are ready to impress.
- are ready to be hired faster—which means less time wasted on job hunting—and can negotiate their salary better
Thank you, Angelina!
Don’t hesitate to contact Angelina directly if you’re interested in working with her for your next interview.
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