Following on from last weeks very popular 'What to do before you apply' advice article. We've now waded through all of our reviews to seek out the very best advice on application proccesses, interviews and assessments.

(N.B. All the quotes come directly from our review writers).

So, you’ve done all your research (well done) and you’re now ready to apply! Not all companies ask for a CV but most do, or have something very similar, as the very first hurdle.  This is your chance to convince your prospective employer to invite you to the next stage so avoid any silly mistakes and use our tips to make sure that you really sell yourself:

1. Do your CV justice
Must Dos

  • “Don't send your CV in with typos and bad grammar (it does happen!) as this will probably end up in the bin”.
  • “Always get someone to check over your CV – most careers services can really help here”.
  • “Never let your CV be more than 2 sides”.
  • “Make sure that your CV provides enough information for your potential employer to understand that you own the skills required for the role you're applying for”.

Top Tip:

  • Keep your CV short: “Don't crowd out your successes with too much information on your CV”. “ Try and write it on one page in size 10 font – then make it size 12 and add in little bits where you feel it is needed – this will make you focus on the highlights rather than throwing everything down

2. Right CV for the Right Job – Having done all that research make sure you put it to good use!
Must Do:

  • “Make sure that you're application is not generic – do your research on the company to make your applications specific”.
  • “Tailor the CV to the specific company, getting at the skills they are looking for – don't copy and paste!”


If you’ve made it through to an interview, your foot is firmly in the door so be sure to do follow our tips to make sure that they end up holding that door wide open for you…

Must Dos:

  •  “Be sure to find out what you’ll be doing on the day – e.g interviews, assessment centres etc.
  • “Ensure you understand the competencies that the company are looking for”.
  • “Literally write what you will say about your background and experiences before the interview”.

Top Tip:

  • “Get straight in your mind before applying: a) Why you want to work in this industry, b) Why you want to work for this specific company, and c) Why you want to work in this particular role. You would be surprised how many interview candidates show up with "I'm bright, got a degree, and I'll give anything a go" attitude”.

2. Be friendly… and be professional!
Must Dos:

  • “Be early, be smart, don't swear!”
  • “Be friendly in the interview – the interviewers aren't normally HR staff they'll probably be managers looking to employ you and your personality plays a big part“.
  • “Above all people want to know that, as well as being smart and competent, you are friendly & easy to work with. Obvious thing to say, but always play up the positive attitude!”

Top Tip:

  • “There must be a professionalism about you which will convince the interviewers that you will behave in an appropriate manner towards clients and colleagues”.

3. Back Yourself Up
Must Dos:

  • “It’s crucial that you demonstrate how your previous experience is relevant”.
  • “Come with real life examples of when you did things, not hypothetical answers”.
  • "Make sure you have examples to questions such as 'tell me a time when you did xyz' as they are assessing some core competencies like leadership, teamwork etc”.

4. Have an opinion
Must Dos:

  • “Demonstrate that you have an opinion in respect to key issues that affect the company (e.g. the state of the global economy, the future of their market, any big recent deals involving them or their competitors)” – this shows that you have a genuine interest in the area and that you have an analytical mind.

5. Treat the interview as a conversation
Must Dos:

  • “Build a rapport with the interviewer – treat them like a person and trust they want you to succeed (as they probably do)”.
  • “Remember to ask questions – an interview should be a two way affair!”

Top Tip:

  • “Ask questions that show your insight into the company or market.  Ask about forthcoming challenges the company is expecting – it will show that you have interest in the job and the industry and it will also give you an idea of what to expect if / when you start”.

6. Sell Yourself and Your Enthusiasm
Must Dos:

  • “Show that you really want the role, and also highlight those points that make you a better candidate than the others”.
  • “Passion for your area of expertise and passion in the industry will be a major benefit in getting a role” – Show them how much research you’ve done – they are sure to be impressed!

Top Tip:

  • “Remember that at telephone interviews, the interviewer cannot see your enthusiasm and so you have to convey that in the way you speak”.

7. Be Honest
Must Dos:

  • “Be honest and don't worry about having the best answer every time”.
  • “Just be yourself because if you aren't the right type of person for the company then you won’t enjoy it there!”
  • “Interviewers have enough experience to see straight through someone who is putting on an act. Therefore, it is better to just be who you are – if you are right for the role then this approach will prove it”.

Top Tip:

  • "I don't know" is sometimes the right answer. You are not expected to be an expert, just to show interest and a willingness to learn”.


Not all jobs will have assessment centres or tests but many do and those that do will vary a lot. There are things that you can do to really help you stand out in both so it’s well worth taking the time to prepare for these too:
Must Dos:

  • “Review your notes or books to refresh your knowledge of accounting/finance or whatever competency it is that they are testing”.
  • “Behavioural interview practice is really useful, so if you can get this, e.g. from your university careers service, I'd recommend it”.
  • “Read the instructions carefully and do what they ask!
  • “Eat and drink plenty – all day interviews and assessment centres are tiring and you need the energy!”

Top Tip:

  • “Top tip for group exercises is not to just win the argument, but to be able to bring cohesion, to involve everyone and to reach a conclusion”.


For advice on what to do before you apply visit:

Or to find insider tips and advice for particular companies and careers, you can read thousand of individual reviews, written anonymously by employees in the know here:


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Interview Tips That Will Help You Get the Job

Experts from the best companies in the UK share their experience and advice on how to boss the interview process

interview tips

Jazz Panesar is a Digital and Technology Apprentice at Severn Trent. Read Jazz’s story here.

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