Your CV is often how you make a first impression on an employer. It needs to put across the right message, have the right presentation, and have no mistakes.
Employers receive lots of CVs and have to decide quickly who they’re going to interview.
Here are some ways to make your CV stand out for all the right reasons:
- Prioritise highlighting your achievements over simply listing duties
- Tailor your CV. This involves 'tweaking' it for specific employers and roles
- Avoid typing errors, poor spelling and grammatical mistakes
- Make it easy to read and look good
- Make sure it contains the right amount of content - don't provide too little or too much information
Your CV and covering letter are your chance to sell yourself to employers.
To create a good first impression, make sure your covering letter...
- is well written
- doesn’t contain any spelling mistakes or bad grammar
- supports what's in your CV
- shows your enthusiasm
- identifies your unique selling points
- promotes your transferable skills
A good covering letter will show that you’ve done your research, you know what the job involves and what the employer’s looking for.
Types of interview
Face-to-face – this is a standard interview with often one or two interviewers.
Telephone – could be the first stage of the interview process if there are lots of applications. The employer is looking to get a good impression of who you are.
Online - this could be the first stage of the interview or the main stage stage. You should prepare in the same way as for a face-to-face interview, but make sure the technology and connection you are going to use is working beforehand!
Group discussion - in a group with other candidates, you’ll have to show you can get along with people, put your ideas forward and be respectful of others.
Panel - where one person usually leads the interview and other panel members take it in turns to ask you different questions.
Before the interview
To help you prepare, you can:
- think about which areas of your CV or application form the interviewer might ask you to talk more about, and how you can relate them to the role
- prepare some answers about why you want the job, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and your relevant work and life experience
- think of some questions to ask about the role and the company at the end of the interview
- try to relax the night before the interview - doing lots of last minute work could make you more anxious and reduce your sleep time. Giving yourself plenty of time to prepare will help you avoid having to do this!
What to wear
When it comes to what to wear:
- plan what you’re going to wear before the day of the interview
- find out what the company’s dress code is and wear clothes that suit the company that’s interviewing you
- don’t wear clothes that you’re physically uncomfortable in, or shoes that you’ll struggle to walk in
- don’t wear too much strong perfume or aftershave!
Getting to the venue
- Check in advance how to get to the interview venue, and how long it’ll take
- Use an online maps or 'street view' service to familiarise yourself with where to go
- On the interview day make sure you leave plenty of time to get there and aim to arrive a little early. You might need to factor in potential delays based on your method of transport
Get settled and ready to begin
Just before the interview starts:
- make sure your phone is on silent
- feel free to ask for water if you haven’t already been offered some
- try not to let your nerves show too much – use breathing techniques and remember that being somewhat nervous is normal for everyone
During the interview...
- take your time when thinking of your answer - it’s fine to say you need a moment to think
- look alert and attentive, speak clearly and confidently, and don’t swear or use slang
- give full answers, don’t just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’
- give examples of when you've used the skills they’re asking for
- make sure you fully understand the questions you’re asked - ask for more information if you need to
- don't lie – the interviewer may see through you and, even if you get the job, your employer can dismiss you if they find out you’ve been dishonest
For further hints and tips on interviews, please see our CV and Job Hunting support pages on icanbea...
More help and resources
We are always prepared to help young people individually and directly in respect of finding local employment.
If you are a 12-25 year old living in Norfolk or Suffolk (or if you know one..) ..who would like someone to look over and help with a CV and ideas for local careers and jobs then please get in touch. We can arrange some time with one of the Trust team to talk through options and explore local opportunities.
We we currently offer this advice as an ad-hoc, informal service for individuals. (For group CV workshops, please see our education offering.)
The Mason Trust also runs the icanbea... careers platform that shows local jobs and the employers that offer them. It has lots of information about local industries and tools like our CV and Careers Wizard. It may help you identify local opportunities and even prepare for interviews with further support information. It is free to access for all.