CV & INTERVIEW TIPS
We’ll expect you to make your CV as good as it possibly can be when you’re applying for a job with Hays. To help you get it right, we’ve put together these helpful tips.
Presentation and layout
Your CV must look clean and well laid out, with an abundance of white space to enhance readability. It should be two pages long unless your industry has its own standards; for instance, if you are expected to include your publications or details of many projects.
Use a simple font like Arial, 10-12pt, and keep formatting like italics and underlining to a minimum. Bullets are extremely useful in CVs as they allow you to highlight key points succintly and keep the document looking tidy. Start each one with an action verb if you can ('created', 'managed', 'increased', 'improved' etc), rather than 'I'.
Spelling and punctuation must be perfect, so after you proofread and spell-check it, give it to a friend to check it over for readability and any errors you may have missed. Hiring organisations are inundated with so many applications that many have implemented extremely strict criteria: if your CV looks cluttered or if one full stop is out of place, it may be removed from consideration.
Basic CV structure
Name, address and contact details
Make sure to use the phone number and email address that you use most often. You don’t want to disappoint an employer by failing to respond to their invitation to an interview in a timely fashion.
Your nationality and working visa details
This is only relevant if you are on a working visa, so employers know in advance how long you will be resident in the country
This is optional, but it’s a good opportunity to highlight in a sentence or two what you hope to achieve in your next position and what you feel you can offer to an employer. In marketing terms, this is the place for your ‘USP’, or unique sales proposition.
The reader of your CV may not have more than a few seconds to spend scanning applications, so including a skills section can capture their attention by making it immediately clear what you can offer. Highlight a brief bulleted list of the skills and experience that you possess that are relevant to the role, such as software packages you have worked on. Wherever possible, use the same adjectives as those used in the advertisement.
For instance, if the ad specifies someone who has ‘effective administrative abilities and excellent interpersonal skills’, these should be addressed under your skills section in the same order, although not verbatim, as this will be too obvious.
This is your work history and includes paid work and any relevant volunteer or work experience placements. Work backwards from your most recent job and don’t leave any gaps; these could lead potential employers to suspect the worst. If you took a year out, carried out an interim assignment or travelled for six months, say so. It could be useful to treat it in the same way as a job, indicating what your accomplished and learned in this time.
If you are a graduate, you may not have a great deal of work experience, although many graduates undertake day release or a year out in the industry. In this case, highlight the relevant skills that you gained in your course or on work experience. Again, list each position in reverse order, so that the most recent appears first.
Education and training
Use your common sense here. If you have an advanced degree, few people are going to be concerned about your more basic qualifications. Make sure to also include any training courses that you have done that are relevant to the job that you are applying for.
These are optional, but should you choose to include a section on hobbies and interests, keep it very brief. Avoid saying anything that could be contentious (e.g. political or religious affiliations), and wherever possible, use the space to show how you can fit in with the organisational culture at Hays. For instance, if you found out that your local Hays office has a football team, it might be useful to indicate that you enjoy playing football.
Actual references are rarely included on CVs. It is usually fine to simply say 'References are available on request'.
Although the number and style of interviews you may be required to attend when applying for a job at Hays may vary depending on location, there are a number of common pieces of advice we can offer you which may help.
Get organised – be prepared
- Know who it is you are meeting, where the building is and how to get there
- Bring your contact details, spare CV, pen and notepad
- Have information ready to impress the interviewer with your research
- Do your homework – do as much research as you can. If you’ve never worked in recruiting before, find a contact who works in the area and speak to them about it. Want to find out more about Hays? A great place to start is our global corporate site – hays.com. Here you’ll find all the key facts and figures about our company. You’ll also be able to download a copy of our annual report, which tells you about what we’ve achieved over the previous year, and something about our plans for the future.
- Study the job specification, match it to your CV so you can provide evidence that you meet the criteria
Your first impression
Wear a smart but comfortable suit
Remember that you're making an impression as soon as you walk through the door
Be courteous to everyone, from the Receptionist to the MD – you never know who might influence the final selection of candidates, or even the job winner
Look at all interviewers (if a panel) when greeting them, smile and carefully remember their names so you can address them throughout the interview
When they are asking you questions
- Relax and imagine you're having a conversation with a friend
- People get so caught up in their feelings they forget to listen to the questions; slowing the pace will help you hear the questions and answer them correctly
- Before you respond to more difficult questions, think about your answers and how you want to express them. This will help you speak more confidently
- You could practise talking slowly and evenly before you go. Record your answers and listen to your pace and tone
- Body language demonstrates how comfortable you are with your subject matter. If you're enthusiastic about what you are saying, smile and let your hands do the talking
- If you said something you did not mean and are worried it could damage your chances, rectify this by restating what you actually meant. Don't hold back, it could be your only chance to get the point across
- Be factual and honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Show that you recognise your weaknesses and that you are striving to improve them
- If you get stuck on a question, do not dwell on it for too long but politely ask if you can come back to it later
When you have the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions
Some questions that may be appropriate to your interview include:
- What are the other people in the department like? How would their roles impact on mine?
- What would my core responsibilities be?
- What training or induction is given?
- What sort of one-off projects might I be given?
- How much interaction would I have with other departments, or with clients/suppliers?
- There may be an explanation of how the process will continue. If not, ask.
- Try to find out when you should hear back but do not be pushy as some recruiters will not want to commit themselves to timescales until they have had time to consider all candidates
- Make sure the appropriate people know where you can be reached
- At the end, thank your interviewer for his or her time and shake hands
- Remember to say a personal goodbye to each person you talked to