Some employers will want a CV others will require an application form. Whichever is asked for should be tailored to the requirements of the role and company you are applying to.
A good CV is essential. Employers could spend as little as ten seconds looking at your CV or, if you are lucky, up to three minutes. Use our CV Workbook to help you produce a good CV and don’t forget that you can get your CV checked by booking an appointment with our Careers Adviser or Library Staff.
A covering letter should accompany a CV, it is a way to get your CV noticed!! Do not use the same covering letter for every job, tailoring it to the role and company you are applying for will help you stand out that bit more. Use our Application Letter Workbook to help you produce a good cover letter.
Application forms ask for basic biographical information, but will also contain open questions which require research. Employers want to see that you have identified a clear link between the work they do and your interests and skills. When completing your application form think about the following:
- Read through the whole form first and make notes about what you are going to put in each section
- Do not copy and paste your answers directly from other applications – questions on teamwork, for example, may well require your answer to be phrased quite differently
- Word counts will vary considerably – always stick to the limit but don’t be significantly under as your answer will not be detailed enough to score well
- Check the qualities the employer is seeking and show clear evidence that you possess them. Go beyond their key competencies to think about the situations and type of work actually involved in the job
- Select your examples from a range of settings, e.g. academic, work related, extracurricular activities etc. Every question will be looking for you to relate your skills and experience to the job requirements
- Give specific and individual reasons for wanting to work for the company
- Give yourself plenty of time – these things always take longer than you think
- Keep a copy of the form so you can remember what was said when you are invited to interview
- If English is not your first language ask an English friend or colleague to review your grammar and choice of vocabulary
- Check your answers thoroughly. Once you have submitted the form you will not be able to edit it again, so ensure that there are no spelling or grammatical errors.
If you have been invited to an interview, congratulations! This means you have convinced the employer that you are suitable for the role and this is your chance to prove you are the right person for it. It is your time to shine!
How to Prepare
- Be prepared to expand on everything you have mentioned in your CV and application form, think about your experiences to date
- Research the occupational area
- Have a good understanding of the role. It will show if there’s any doubt as to your interest, knowledge of the job, sector or company
- Research as much as you can about the organisation using, websites, news, brochures, business databases etc.
- Keep up to date with business news, global events and current affairs, consider how these affect your job sector
On the Day
- Dress smartly – even if the usual dress-code is casual/informal
- Plan your route – arrive promptly, think how you will cope if there is an unexpected delay
- First impressions – remember that you are on show from the minute you arrive, make a good impression
- Answer all the questions carefully – take a moment to think before answering
- Be positive in everything you say. Don’t make negative comments about previous employers, tutors or your school
- Don’t let a friendly, informal interview style lull you into a false sense of security, still be professional
- Don’t be afraid of silence. If you have finished what you have to say and the interviewer remains silent, don’t keep talking to fill the gap
- Be aware of body language and try to maintain eye contact. If it is panel interview you need to keep eye contact with all the members
- Use examples from different experiences
- Prepare some intelligent questions to ask at the end.
Use our Interview Advice Workbook to help you prepare and take a look at our ‘Who do I speak to?’ page to see who can help you with a practice interview session where feedback can be given to help you improve your performance for the actual event.