Job Application and Interview Tips

Author: Adam Heppell

Date: Monday 15th March 2021

The process for searching for or changing jobs is becoming increasingly competitive and can be lonely. It is easy to get disheartened, particularly if you find yourself getting constantly overlooked. It can be difficult to re-motivate yourself. As the process goes on, it can be difficult not to put yourself under too much pressure, whether you are unemployed or looking for a new position. In turn, it could affect your prospects at an interview. If you are out of work it is tempting to spend all day firing off applications.

Have faith in your qualifications, transferable skills and experience. The opportunity will come. Monitor sector and industry trends. If you feel you have a skills gap, take an online course. Learn with Unite has a plethora of courses for you to peruse. 

Get out there!

Sign up for as many agencies and job alerts as you can. Although not a guarantee, job sites including Indeed and Reed have quick apply features to send with your CV. By applying for more jobs, your odds will improve.

Optimise your digital profiles, especially now – one of the first things employers do is check the digital footprint of a prospective employee. Take a look at the privacy settings within your Facebook and other social media accounts and always be sure to check the option that allows only friends to see your personal page.  Consider that just because your page is restricted, it doesn't mean a friend's page you have posted on is.

Get yourself on LinkedIn and make sure that it is up to date with your most recent achievements. Get endorsements from colleagues; this is an easy way to demonstrate how you work in a team and to demonstrate your skills. Ensure you have a professional email name and photo on your profile too. Keeping your profiles highly polished indicates digital acumen, increasingly important for employers today

Reach out to your contacts and take every opportunity to keep building your professional network.

CV Writing

Just writing your CV out once and presenting it as part of your application isn’t enough. Make sure it is tailored to a job description. Show how you have demonstrated a skill demanded in the spec with a clear example, show how your skills can transfer to the sector if not a direct match. Employers can tell a CV that has been written with the role in mind from one that is used across the board.

Interview Preparation

Know the format. It could be in front of a panel, one on one or even an assessment centre. It is likely that at present interviews are carried out on video. Consider recording yourself and then reviewing your performance.

Predict the questions research the industry or how a prospective company works practice answers that fit the exact job and personal spec. Recall your achievements and how you can use that example in a possible question.  Common questions are:

Tell us about yourself?

Why do you want this job?

What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Prepare for questions to be asked differently from how you expect.

Prepare your attire before the interview even if digital. If you're unsure of the dress code, ask before attending the interview. If being interviewed over zoom try to ensure the setting is professional as possible, a blank wall as a background is a good start.  Ensure that your tech works the day before!

During interview

Whether the interview is digital or in person, the most important part of interviewing is being able to answer questions clearly. You want to be able to communicate your experience and how it applies to the role that you’re interviewing for. If the interview is in person, be mindful of your facial expressions. Make sure your body language shows that you’re alert, engaged, and professional. Show confidence by being sure of your answers, sitting straight, and looking directly into the camera.

Always ask questions, too.

Post Interview

Before an interview ends, you will likely be extended the opportunity to ask questions. This is where you will ask the questions that you prepared in advance. After you’ve done so, thank the interviewer for their time and, of course, confirm what the next steps are.  Send a follow-up email to say thank you.

Good luck!

Do you want more tips on Writing Job Applications and Job Interviews? Try these Futurelearn courses!

Unite the Union and the Marx Memorial Library are creating the largest collection of Oral Histories from working people. Sharing stories of struggle, collectivism, and what it means to be a member and activist within the Trade Union Movement.  Listen to the podcasts now on Spotify and Pocket Casts.