CVs, Applications and Interviews

A CV is a marketing tool, giving you an opportunity to promote the skills, experience and qualities that you have to offer.

It is most commonly used to send to a prospective employer when applying for a job, or as part of a speculative application (getting in touch to ask if there are any suitable job or work experience opportunities).

Did you know? Glassdoor.co.uk share that research indicates recruiters only spend around seven seconds reviewing a CV before they decide to accept or reject the application.

It is key that you target and tailor your CV to each employer and position you are applying for. Your aim should be to quickly and effectively demonstrate that you are a suitable candidate.

Although there are some general UK conventions, requirements may vary depending on the job or sector you are applying for. For example it’s not usually advisable to include a photograph, but in the Superyacht industry a photograph is an essential element of the CV. Always do your research, and speak to a lecturer or industry professional if you can.

  • Get advice on how to write a CV (Prospects)
  • Take a look at some example CVs including skills-based, technical and teaching CVs (Prospects)
  • Looking to gain experience or graduate employment in the creative industries? You may be required to submit a Creative CV to showcase your creative skills. This short guide will help you get started (University of Plymouth)
  • How to explain a gap in your CV (Prospects)

Cover letter

A cover letter is usually required alongside a CV, acting as the ‘front cover’.

It provides some more context to your application, such as what interests you about the role and why you want to work for the employer. It is also an opportunity to highlight any relevant skills and/or experience in more detail, further demonstrating your suitability for the role.

Application forms

Many larger and/or public sector employers require you to complete a standardised application form instead of submitting a CV.

The use of an application form allows employers to determine the information they need about applicants, which helps them compare and filter out unsuitable candidates more easily.

Typically you will need to include some basic personal details, information on your employment history and education, and a personal or supporting statement outlining why you are suitable for the job. The application form may also include competency-based questions, which are sometimes used in interviews. Competency-based questions ask you to provide evidence of a time when you have demonstrated a particular skill.

Interviews

Interviews are used primarily by employers to establish that you fit the role you have applied for, and to allow you to build on what you have said in your application. For the employer, it is also an opportunity to gauge how you would fit into the organisation and work within a team.

It is very normal to find interviews nerve-wracking. However with careful preparation and practice, you can be confident that you are putting your best foot forward. It’s important to remember that if you make it to the interview stage, the recruiter already sees you as a strong prospect.

Psychometric tests

Many large graduate employers will include psychometric tests as part of the application or interview process. They are used as an objective measure of your skills, knowledge and/or personality. Find out about psychometric tests and how to practice.

Assessment centres

If you are applying to a large graduate employer, you may be invited to attend an assessment centre as part of the interview process. Usually taking place over one or two days, they are designed to assess your performance in action through specific tasks, such as problem-solving games. Find out how to approach an assessment centre.

Equality and diversity

TARGETjobs provide advice and useful resources on equality and diversity during the recruitment process, covering characteristics including sexual orientation, sex, age and disability.

Information on disclosing a disability

There are no legal requirements for you to disclose your disability or health condition to a prospective employer, either at the application stage or at interview.

For more information on disability rights and employment, visit the dedicated GOV.UK webpages.

A benefit of being open about your disability or health condition during the selection process, is that a prospective employer must consider reasonable adjustments for anything linked to your disability or health condition. This could include providing materials in an alternative format, or extra time when completing written exercises.

If you have been in receipt of Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) and have a Learner Support Plan (LSP), this would be a useful starting point when considering the type of support you might require in the selection process and workplace.

Current UK legislation also requires employers to make reasonable adjustments for employees in the workplace, such as providing equipment to help an employee do their job.

  • Take a look at this example of how to disclose a disability in a cover letter
  • My Plus Students’ Club offers advice and useful resources on job searching with a disability, covering practical steps to being open with an employer, accounting for differences on your CV and asking for adjustments in the recruitment process.
  • EmployAbility is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to assisting students and graduates with all disabilities, including dyslexia or long term health conditions, into employment.
  • If you are employed and the support you need is not covered by an employer making reasonable adjustments, you can get help from the Access to Work scheme.