Getting a Job Interview

Quick links

Our top tips!

  • Make sure that your job application is as good as it can be
    Employers are more likely to invite you to interview if you take the time to make your application form, CV and cover letter as good as you possibly can.
  • Read information provided by the employer
    Employers may have very different application processes. You should carefully read the information provided by the employer about their process, and ask questions if anything is unclear. This will allow you to be prepared and do your best in the initial stages of the process.
  • Speak with people who might be able to help
    Friends and family who have interviewed for jobs or have jobs themselves can tell you about their experience and help you to understand how to impress employers and secure an interview.

What usually comes before an interview?

When applying for a job, the first stage is usually to complete an application form. Most companies use the application form as a way of deciding which candidates they will interview for a position.

Although completing an application form may seem dull and boring, it is actually a very important part of the process. It is the first contact that the company has with you, so is an opportunity for you to make a good first impression. This step should therefore not be overlooked, even though it may seem straightforward. You should ensure the information you provide is clear and accurate, and take care not to rush it. 

An application form may be followed by a situational judgement or personality questionnaire, which help the employer to find out more about you. These steps can take some time to complete, so make sure you have an hour or so to spare when you begin filling it out. Read the questions carefully, but try not to overthink your answers too much. Your responses will help the company to work out whether you would be a good fit, so being dishonest is unhelpful for both the employer and yourself. Employers will use the information they gather about you during these initial steps in order to determine whether you are successful in securing an interview.  

Can I approach companies with my CV?

You don’t always need to wait for jobs to be advertised to show your interest and make yourself known to an employer. Handing out your CV will make employers aware that you are looking for a job and shows initiative, which they are likely to value highly. If they have an opening they may reach out and ask you to interview. Even if they don’t have an opening, they will be more likely to consider you for any position that opens up.

It is important to note that this method of applying speculatively in this way is more appropriate for retail or hospitality work rather than graduate roles or apprenticeships.

The only drawback of this approach is that it is easy for the company to misplace your CV. This means that even if the type of role you are looking for becomes available, they may not have your CV to hand and still advertise the job online. It would definitely be worth maintaining contact with the company to avoid this.

Also, remember that handing out your CV will not always lead to a future opportunity so you should apply to jobs through formal processes too, but it’s a great additional method to use!

How can I increase my chances?

Research and ask questions

The employer you are applying to should tell you what is taken into account when deciding who to interview. Use this information to improve your application, and be sure to ask questions if you need to. 

Check over your application

Making mistakes in your application form, CV or cover letter makes you seem unprofessional and reduces your chances. Spend time perfecting your application and ask someone else to check it before you submit.

Get yourself noticed

Being proactive and enthusiastic in your interactions with employers will not go amiss. If you show initiative, it will make a good impression and make them more likely to consider you for an interview.

Be prepared for rejection

It can be very difficult to secure interviews and you are unlikely to be successful with every application. Try to stay positive and know that every application will give you experience that will help you with the next one.

How can people I know help me?

It’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know! Think about all the people who you and your family know. It is likely that there will be at least one person who will be able to help you secure an interview because of the job that they have. This may be because they work in the area you want to go into, or they work for a company you want to work for. See what advice and help they can offer.

These people are likely to know the traps of the application process for the company they work for and how you can make yourself come across well to recruiters and interviewers. This guidance will help you to succeed in the application and interview process if you decide to apply.

Ultimately, you have nothing to lose by asking questions and putting your name out there. By starting conversations with people you know and telling them what kinds of job you are looking for, you encourage them to consider how they can help, or put you in touch with people that they know. You never know unless you ask! 

Where can I find careers advice?

If you are at college or university then there will be lots of careers advice available to you. There is likely to be a careers service or a careers advisor who you can contact and make an appointment with. Meeting with a careers advisor can be extremely helpful. As well as helping you to work out what jobs might be good for you to consider, they can provide guidance for the application process and how to secure an interview.

If you are out of education and think that you would benefit from some advice, it would be helpful to go to your local job centre. They will have lots of information available and will be able to help you to secure an interview.

Don’t forget that your family and friends can be a really valuable source of information too. For instance, you may have a friend who has applied for similar jobs to the ones that you are looking for. If this is the case, they can let you know what the application process was like and how they managed to secure an interview. You can use what they have learned to help you improve your chances of reaching the interview stage of the application process for jobs you apply for.

I think I might need some help... what do I do?

Securing an interview can be very difficult and the initial steps of the application process are often not straightforward.

If you are struggling to secure an interview or have questions, there are plenty of people who can help you, from family and friends to careers advisors.

Get support!
Application processes can be difficult and confusing, but there are plenty of people you can reach out to for support!
Speak to us

Speaking with careers advisors or other adults can be intimidating. Most of our mentors will have experience applying for jobs – they can provide tips and share their own experience to help you out. Reach out to them if you need any support! Alternatively speak to friends and family.

Speak to friends and family

Your friends and family are a valuable resource. They will have their own experiences from throughout their life that they can share with you. 

Speak to a careers advisor

It is a careers advisor’s job to help you succeed in application processes. They are therefore well-placed to help you secure an interview by providing advice and pointing you towards resources that might help.