Bradford University Cover Letter

Posted on by Garg

Interviews

What to expect at an interview

An interview is a formal discussion between you and the recruiter, in which the recruiter asks questions and you are given the opportunity to prove your suitability for the post.

An interview may be one-to-one or with a panel of people, usually at an office of the organisation, but they may also be conducted by telephone or Skype. If you’ve been invited to an interview, you can safely assume that, on the basis of your application, the employer considers you to have the potential to do the advertised job and they are considering you as a prospective employee.

The interview is your opportunity to convince the employer in person that you are the best candidate, so make the most of it by planning and preparing. Don’t assume that they will remember your application, CV or cover letter – they may be doing multiple interviews, so try and draw attention to the strong points of your application and CV - you don’t necessarily have to provide fresh examples.

Preparation is vital. It will give you confidence, control and the ability to deal effectively with any question, see below for our tips on how to prepare for your interview.

Preparing for your interview

Preparation is vital in giving you confidence to perform well at interview. Here's the things you should consider:

  • Have a copy of your CV and Covering Letter or Application Form to hand along with the relevant information provided by the employer (advertisement, job description, job specification and any other details given) - make sure you read and re-read these and use them to try to spot questions which may be asked.
  • Find out about the job - You should research the job area in general. The Prospects website contains a large number of job descriptions where you can read up on the general activities and skills requirements each role entails. Speak to friends and family in similar roles and become familiar with the general tasks and terminology of the role or industry. Re-read the job description, person specification, and the list of required competencies. You can use these to work out what kind of questions will be asked. Think about what personal qualities, skills, experience and knowledge are required? What levels of commitment, motivation and initiative are needed? How can you demonstrate these to an employer? Try to write down examples which you can give to demonstrate each of the points on the job description, person specification, and competencies list.
  • Find out about the employer - Do a SWOT analysis on the company (Strengths / Weakness / Opportunity / Threats) see example below – find out the company’s size, products or services, turnover, location, organisational structure, competitors and position in the industry / service as a whole. Do the aims / ethos of the company fit in with your personal values and aims? Are there varied locations requiring you to be flexible on travelling? Will the size / location of the employer affect promotion prospects?

  • Research the sector - Commercial awareness is an important employability skill. Read industry journals, quality newspapers, company reports and watch business-related TV programmes. Check for videos concerning the industry and company on YouTube and join industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Look at new developments and find out how the industry is changing. Try to formulate your own opinions regarding these issues.
  • Think about what you can offer - When you feel you understand the sector, think about you and the employer in its context. What you could do for the employer, or what experience do you possess which could make their business or service more effective?
  • Make sure you understand the format of the interview - You should have received details in advance about the interview location, length, and whether you will be required to do further activities (i.e. tests / tasks or a presentation). If you are unsure of any of these points, or if you have any other special requirements (e.g. a disability) then get in touch with the employer.

Building your confidence

Preparation is not just about your knowledge, you will also need to speak clearly and confidently to put across the information about your skills and experience that you've worked hard on.

Having an awareness of what may come can build your confidence and help you convince the recruiters that you are the best person for the job, so here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Be prepared for probing questions: We all have less positive experiences at some times. If you are conscious of inconsistencies, failures or changes of direction in your life, prepare yourself to respond to questions about them. Think about what you have learnt from the experiences, and emphasise positive outcomes.
  • Be prepared to talk about your application: You may be asked about details you have provided in your CV, covering letter or application form. Interviewers may look closely at the evidence you have provided in your written application before the interview, and want to explore your background in greater depth. Alternatively, interviewers may not look at a candidate’s CV again, either because they don’t have time, or to give everyone a level playing field. Therefore, always keep a copy of your CV, covering letter or application form, and re-read this before the interview. Refresh yourself on the information you have provided the employer, and be prepared to elaborate on the examples you have provided.
  • Be prepared to talk about the job, the employer and the sector: If you have done your research this should come fairly naturally to you. Speak honestly about your understanding of the job and how your research into the area has led you to the conclusion that you should work in the area.
  • Formulate answers which showcase what you can offer: One technique is to write down a list of five points which you really want the employer to know about you which showcase your skills. Try to get these points across in the interview. Remember, if you don’t tell them what you have done and achieved, they have no way of knowing.

Practising answering questions out loud is always useful (even if it seems a bit embarrassing). A mock interview with a Career Consultant is a great way to practise, and you could also ask friends and family to help you.

On the day of the interview

Travel

Double check the venue and your travel arrangements to make absolutely certain you will arrive on time. Allow time for delays – nothing is more likely to jeopardise an interview than arriving late. Better to be 30 minutes early than 3 minutes late. 

What to take with you

  • The email/letter, location map, a copy of your CV / application form, notes on key points you want to make and questions you would like to ask.
  • Money for a taxi (in case you are running late) and a bottle of water.
  • Any certificates asked for. This will usually be copies of your educational qualifications, and your passport or birth certificate. Read the list carefully and follow the instructions, as you may be turned away if you do not have specifically requested documents.
  • If you have a portfolio of your work, take it with you and offer it, if it seems appropriate, but don’t force it on your interviewers.
  • Some interviewers allow candidates to refer to copies of their applications or CVs and job descriptions / specifications during the interview. Check with them if you want to do so. 

Clothes

  • Plan what you will wear. At an interview your appearance needs to be smart but at the same time it is important for you to be comfortable.
  • Don’t overlook the importance of clean shoes, well ironed clothes, smart haircut and tidy appearance.
  • If you can afford it, invest in a new suit or jacket to boost your professionalism and confidence.

How to handle nerves

Don’t worry if you feel nervous or apprehensive before the interview. Remember that the interviewers are not expecting you to be perfect. They will be looking at your future potential, and whether you have the ability, knowledge and motivation to fit into their organisation and make a valid contribution.

Whilst some nerves may be inevitable, there are things you can do to prepare:

  • Arrange a practice interview with a career consultant, or go through some typical questions and answers with a friend.
  • Try to get a good night’s sleep the night before your interview.
  • Eat breakfast on the morning of your interview.  
  • Try to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Breathe. Try taking a deep breath in, holding it for a few seconds, and then exhaling fully, and then repeat this as necessary. 
  • Think positive thoughts to put you in the best frame of mind.

Above all, try to stay positive and remember that any experiences you have as part of a recruitment process are an opportunity for you to learn and to develop.

At the interview

First impressions

The impression you create in the first 60 seconds can be very important in creating the right rapport between you and the interviewer(s):

  • Be courteous and friendly towards everyone you meet – anyone may be assessing you, including the receptionist you report to first.
  • Remember to switch your phone off as soon as you arrive at the interview.
  • If you are a smoker, make sure you have mints or spray to remove the tobacco smell long before you enter the building – the smell lingers.
  • Make an effort to present a confident appearance and greet the interviewer(s) with a firm handshake.
  • Wait to be seated – don’t just assume one of the chairs is yours.
  • Above all, try to stay positive and remember that any experiences you have as part of a recruitment process are an opportunity for you to learn and to develop.

Body Language

Your body language when answering questions can be as important as what you actually say, so it's worth paying attention to what you are communicating with your actions. 

Non-verbal signals such as your gestures and posture, your tone of voice and the type of words you use all affect the way the interviewer will view you. There are four important areas of body language

  • Eye Contact conveys listening, interest and honesty. If it is a panel interview, look (mainly) at the interviewer who is asking the question but also make sure you glance at or include the others on the panel when responding. 
  • Facial expression is also important - smiling naturally and frequently indicates a good rapport with the interviewer and indicates that you are confident and relaxed and potentially can fit into the team.  
  • Posture - Sit well back and comfortably in the chair. Relax (but be careful not to slouch) with your feet firmly on the ground
  • Gestures -  No movement at all is not natural and may be considered as passive and rigid behaviour, but if you have the tendency to fling your arms around, you may be better off clasping them on your lap.

Answering questions effectively

  • Listen carefully and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or repetition if you don’t understand the question.
  • Answer questions as fully and positively as you can, whilst avoiding answers which are too long and repetitive (or the answers too short and blunt to be of little help to the interviewer). If in doubt, you could always ask the interviewer “Would you like me to continue…?
  • Don’t answer questions in a negative way e.g. “I just…” or “I only…” when talking about your experiences. On the other hand, don’t tell lies – it’s simply not worth it.
  • During the interview, if you feel you have been talking too much or too little, or if you feel you have been too familiar, don't be afraid to adjust your style for the remaining questions.

The questions

There are four fundamental areas which employers usually concentrate on.  They can ask any number of different questions to get this information – each question may be asked using different words, but every question however it is phrased, is just a variation of one of the areas below:

  • Why have you applied to this organisation / for this job?
  • What can you do for us?  (What skills, knowledge, experience and intellectual ability can you offer?)
  • What kind of a person are you? (What are your attitudes, values, motivation levels?  Do you have the ability to get on with others, work in a team?)
  • What distinguishes you from all other applicants?

The types of questions you will be asked are likely be in the following areas (see more examples below):

  • Your knowledge of the job vacancy and the organisation, e.g. What attracts you to our organisation? Who do you think are our main competitors?
  • Your education, qualifications, interests and work experience: Why did you choose the University of Bradford and why this course? What have you learned from your past work experience?
  • Your attitudes, values, motivation, personal qualities and interpersonal skills: e.g. Why did you apply for the job? What skills / qualities do you think make you suitable for the job?
  • Hypothetical / situational questions: “What would you do if…? Best describe these types of questions. These are used to test your overall style and approach and can be asked at any time during the interview. From the interviewer(s) point of view, these types of questions are best used when they want to test someone’s specific knowledge, experience or judgement.
  • Technical/specialist questions: If you have applied for a job or a course which requires specific technical / specialist knowledge (e.g. engineering, pharmacy, science or IT), it is likely that at some stage in the selection process you will be asked technical questions or have a separate interview to test your knowledge. Examples : What do you think is the biggest challenge facing our industry at the moment? What do you think about the new drug on the market?

Answering questions- top tips

  • Refer back to the job description and person specification to think about the types of questions you may be asked.
  • Use theInterview Simulator on Build My Career.
  • Book a mock interview with a career consultant. You could also rehearse your answers out loud with a friend, it’s really useful to practice and get feedback prior to the day.
  • If you have any contacts in the sector, ask them to suggest possible questions.
  • Consider the interviewer – what would you ask a candidate if you were the recruiter, and what answers would you like to hear?
  • Practice the STAR technique: a useful technique for answering interview questions:
    • S = Situation (20% of your answer)
    • T = Task (10% of your answer)
    • A = Action (50% of your answer)
    • R = Result (20% of your answer)
    • Structuring your answers in this way will give your answers a logical format and allow the employers to identify your skills clearly. It may not be suitable for all answers, but particularly in competency-based interviews you may find this technique helpful. It will help you to remember to always put a positive spin on information that you offer, and to focus on yourself throughout your answer. See more details on our applications pages.

Example questions

Here are some more specific questions based on the above themes, think about how the context or subject could be changed to relate to the role you are applying for:

Questions relating to your education, qualifications, interests and work experience:
Questions aimed at finding out more about you (attitudes, values, motivation, personal qualities and interpersonal skills):
  • Why did you choose the University of Bradford and why this course?
  • What do you enjoy most / least about your work placement and why?
  • What do you think you have gained from your time at The University of Bradford?
  • Tell me about your final year project / dissertation / thesis.
  • What do you regard as your greatest personal achievement?
  • Tell me about your interests outside of your academic studies.
  • What do you think are your particular strengths? What are your areas for development?
  • What skills / qualities do you think make you suitable for the job?
  • What do you look for in a job?
  • What other qualifications are you considering?
  • Are you willing to travel for the role?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
Technical / specialist questions
Theoretical questions
  • Tell me about your thesis / dissertation / final year project.
  • Describe your experience in database design.
  • What experience have you had of analysing new systems?
  • How would you improve our store layout?
  • What do you think about the new drug on the market?
  •  What do you think are the difficulties and key issues facing our industry?
  • How would you define marketing, human resources, etc?
  • What do you understand by the term ‘management’?
  • What do you think are the qualities needed to be an effective civil engineer, social worker, teacher, business analyst, etc?
Hypothetical questions
Tricky questions
  • What would you do if you were the Managing Director of this company?
  • Our ‘After Sales Service Department’ has been receiving an increasing number of complaints from customers recently. If you were the leader of the team, what would you do?
  • If you found someone unconscious on the pavement, what would you do?
  • An important client has indicated that you should sell his shares when they reached a particular price but that you should check with him first. You were unable to contact him despite trying for the last few days, what would you do?
  • A supplier has just informed you that he cannot deliver an essential product you ordered tomorrow – you were counting on this delivery as it will affect production. What would you do?
These questions revolve around self- awareness. Everybody has weaknesses and employers want to know that you are aware of yours and that you are doing something to improve them.
  • What would you say are your weaknesses and what steps have you taken to address these?
  • What kind of situation would make you frustrated and give up on the tasks you have been doing?
  • You seem to have left your job search until after completing your degree. Is this a deliberate choice?
  • You took four years to complete your degree course rather than three. Can you tell me why?
Competency-based questions
Strength-based questions
  • Give an example of when you have had to explain something to someone. How did you ensure they understood you?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to influence someone to your point of view.
  • Can you give an example of when you have provided good customer service?
  • Describe a situation where you have planned and organised an event, project or activity, which involved a fixed deadline. How successful was the result?
  • What aspects of your work have involved working with others?
  • What are you good at?
  • What comes easily to you?
  • Describe a successful day you have had.
  • Have you ever built a relationship with someone who doesn’t share common goals with you?
  • Which do you like more – meeting new people or completing a task?

See more about answering competency-based questions on our applications page.

The types of interview

1:1 Interviews

  • An interview conducted by one person, although there may be another person present to take notes.
  • You might undergo several such interviews following each other, where different interviewers could assess your specialist skills if relevant, or the interviews could reflect different aspects of the job, including representatives from different departments.
  • This type of interview is generally conducted at assessment centres (as there will be other activities for them to get assessments of one candidate), or as a first stage interview.

Panel Interviews

  • Here you are questioned by a panel, generally made up of three to five people.
  • There is usually a chairperson to co-ordinate the questions, a specialist who knows about the job in detail and a HR specialist.  
  • Such interviews are popular in the public sector. They can be daunting but remember that every candidate has to go through the same process – try to treat them in the same way as you would a 1:1 situation.
  • In this situation, initially answer questions directly to the person who asks the question but also try to include everyone with appropriate eye contact as you give your answer.

Competency-based interviews

  • Many employers use this form of interview to check whether you have the competencies they are looking for (e.g. teamwork, communication, problem solving, leadership, planning and organising, etc.) and to ensure a more objective assessment of candidates. The reason for asking competency based questions is that your past performance and behaviour tend to be the best predictors of future success in your chosen job.
  • You can use examples from your work experience, studies or social and sporting activities.
  • You will be marked on a set scale, according to how well you have demonstrated you have the competencies required.
  • See some example competency questions in example questions above.

Strength-based interviews:

  • Some recruiters are now using strength- based interviews which focus on what you enjoy doing and are passionate about. In this type of interview, employers are looking for positivity, enthusiasm and authenticity as well as a general suitability for the role.
  • Rather than asking open questions, strength-based questions are often shorter and closed, so that the interviewers get immediate response. Various signals such tone of voice and body language will be used to identify your enthusiasm, motivation and pride in what you have been doing and your achievements.
  • The benefit to an organisation is that this style of interview identifies candidates who will enjoy the role more, and perform better as a result.
  • See some example strength-based questions in example questions above.

Sequential Interviews

  • Several interviews in turn, with a different interviewer each time.
  • Usually, each interviewer asks questions to test different sets of competencies. However, you may find yourself answering the same questions over and over. If this does happen, make sure you answer each one as fully as the time before. [Also see Multiple Mini Interviews below]

Group Interviews

  • Occasionally (but very rarely), you may be interviewed by a panel together with other candidates (commonly used in some teaching / PGCE interviews). 
  • The same principle applies as for other interviews, though you will need to ensure that you allow other candidates to respond to questions put forward to them i.e. do not compete against the other candidates.

Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)

  • Used to select candidates in regulated professions, particularly for medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, occupational therapy, etc.
  • In this format, each applicant attends numerous short interviews (‘stations’), each of which is conducted by different evaluators. Some of the short interviews may involve role-play where you are directed to act a part in a given situation. Other stations may provide some information on a topic and after receiving a prompt, you are given questions to answer.
  • This allows recruiters to gain a variety of opinions on a candidate, and test on a wide range of topics and skill sets, from logical thinking to cultural sensitivity.

Telephone Interviews

  • An increasing number of organisations are using telephone interviews as their first stage of selection. These can range from a basic check to see whether you match the selection criteria, to a very probing interview.
  • Generally you will be speaking to a person who will ask you questions in the same style as a face to face interview, but this could be either pre-arranged or unannounced. If a company rings you to conduct a telephone interview without having made an appointment, politely say "Thank you for calling, do you mind waiting for a minute while I close the door/turn off the radio/take the phone to a quieter room?" This will give you a little time to compose yourself. If it really is a bad time, offer to call back, and arrange a date and time that is convenient. It is important that you are in the right frame of mind to be interviewed.

Top tips for telephone interviews
  • Be ready 10 minutes before the interview time. Get into the ‘interview mentality’. Have your CV / application form and a checklist of the skills or qualities the employer requires in front of you so you can clearly focus on what they want.
  • Don’t forget to switch off your mobile phone (if on a landline) as you don’t want distractions. Make sure your environment is free from interruptions (make arrangements in advance and if you live with others let them know that you are expecting a telephone interview call). If using a mobile, make sure it is fully charged.
  • Think of the tone and volume of your voice – be as enthusiastic as possible, because the interviewer only has your voice to go on and remember, a smile can be ‘heard’ down the line.
  • Answer the telephone confidently and professionally – answering with “Wassup man?”, “What did you say your name was?” or “Which company are you from?” is not going to get you off to a good start. Remember, first impressions count.
  • Think of your posture. The way you sit can help you relax, breathe properly and project your voice and yourself more effectively. Imagine the posture you would have for a face-to-face interview. Some people stand up and dress as they would do for a face-to-face interview as this gives them confidence.
  •  Have a glass of water handy in case you dry up.

Video / webcam interviews

  • Increasingly, companies are using live video chat such as Skype to conduct interviews. A lot of the same advice applies to telephone interviews and video interviews, so also read the advice above and remember to take the opportunity as seriously as a face-to-face interview.

Top tips for video interviews
  • Arrange a test call with a friend beforehand to make sure you’re comfortable with the set up and the camera and microphone are working.
  • Dress smartly, and don’t forget to wear smart trousers or skirt in case you have to get up during the interview.
  • Make sure the room is light enough so that the interviewer can see you clearly and there are no distractions in the background.
  • Ensure that the camera and microphone are working, and that the employer can hear you clearly.
  • The employer expects eye contact as anything else can be a distraction, so look in the camera when you are speaking - minimise your video image so that you are not tempted to watch yourself.
  • Avoid speaking over anyone. A slight delay is possible on video calls, so it’s important to allow people to finish speaking, otherwise you risk missing information.

Automated video interviews

  • In an automated video interview, companies invite candidates to record their answers to a series of questions by a set deadline. You’ll need to log on to an automated web-based system and read and record their answers, or upload their own video. As it’s not live, you don’t have to be online the same time as the interviewer.

Additional interview tasks

Increasingly, interviews are conducted together with other activities, and you should be informed in advance if this is the case. They could consist of one or a combination of the following:

  • Presentation –  Normally at the beginning of the interview, e.g. a 10-15 minutes presentation with a further 10–20 minutes question-and-answer session with the interview panel. You may want to consider making copies of the PowerPoint presentation as handouts for the interviewer(s).
  • Tests/Tasks – these are generally relevant to the role you are applying for, such as a keyboard exercise to test your competency on manipulating data using Microsoft Office Excel or Access or, if your role involves finance / calculations, you might have to sit a numerical test. 
  • Psychometric Tests (Aptitude / Situational Judgement / Personality) – see our information on psychometric (selection) tests.
  • Role Plays –  often based on the organisation and the type of work you have applied for. Common for roles involving sales and customer services where you could be asked to “sell a product” to or “advise a customer” on the products or services available. 

For further information on these activities, please refer to our pages on assessment centres and psychometric tests.

The end of the interview

At the end of the interview you will usually be asked: “Are there any questions you would like to ask?”. Use this opportunity to show that you have a genuine interest in the role and the organisation and have done some thinking about what you need to know. Research the company and have two or three questions prepared, any more could be seen as too many. This is your opportunity to impress once again as the interviewer(s) will see that you are thinking carefully about the role.

DO ask about:
  • The job, organisation, department, training and opportunities for progression.
  • Information you need which may affect your decision about whether to accept the job or not.
  • The next stage of the recruitment process (if relevant).

Some suggested questions are as follows, but make sure that they have not been answered already during the course of the interview:

  • Can you tell me more about the specific projects I would likely be involved in?
  • What are the objectives and priorities of the post in the first 3-6 months? How will they be measured? What training and induction am I likely to receive?
  • In terms of career progression, what has happened to graduates or others who have held this position in the past? What is the typical career path for people in this position? How is growth and continuous learning promoted?
  • Does the department or role have particular peaks and troughs in workload? What is the most challenging aspect of the role?
  • Who will be my direct line manager or who will be supervising my work on a daily basis? What is their role? Could you tell me a little about your role in the company?
  • How is performance measured in the job? How is high performance recognised?
  • Why is the position open?
  • What is the company’s strategy for the next 5 years?
DON'T ask about:
  • Things that are covered in the employer’s literature or on their website. You should already know this thoroughly.
  • Anything considered trivial e.g. Christmas holiday closure dates.
  • Pay, pensions and benefits. However, if you really do need to ask then either contact Human Resources separately or ask in a sensitive manner e.g. “Sorry to ask this but please can you give me an indication of the salary range of this post as it was not indicated in the literature.”
  • Questions where it could appear as though you are trying to catch out the employer e.g. “What are your views on the recent press coverage of the company’s share price fall?”
  • How you have performed in the interview. The interviewer(s) are unlikely to tell you as they will need to review all candidates at the end of the interviews and what will you gain from asking at this stage?

If all your questions have already been answered during the interview, then say so politely rather than appear uninterested.  For example, you may want to say “Thank you but you have already answered my questions during the interview”. If there is something relevant that you had hoped to say in the interview and not had the opportunity to include in your answers, then you could consider using the time at the end of interview for your questions to tell the interviewers about your experience or skills. 

As you leave you may wish to thank the interviewers for inviting you to the interview.

After the interview

Remember, your interview finishes only when you leave the organisation. Any informal tour or meal could be part of the selection process, so be professional at all times.  Finally, reflect on how the interview went.  Highlight what went well and what could have been improved on. Then think what action you can take to improve in future.

Do consider asking for feedback about an unsuccessful job interview.  This way you can learn about what you did well and how you need to improve in your next interview.  You need to be specific and polite.  Something along the lines of “Obviously I am very disappointed at being unsuccessful but it would really help if someone could take me through the selection criteria and indicate which you feel I did not meet”. Although an employer is not obliged to do this, many will give you constructive comments. 

If you are offered the job

If you have been successful you are likely to get a phone call offering you the job. At this stage you can clarify salary and other aspects of the job if these haven’t been discussed. The formal job offer is usually sent through to you in writing.

Take time to consider all you’ve experienced during the recruitment process, and hopefully you’ll think that the job is right for you. Remember, you don’t have to accept if you have doubts, and if you’ve been offered one job, there’s a good chance you’ll be successful in future applications.

If you would like to accept the job offer, make sure to send through your formal acceptance along with any paperwork in good time to avoid delays to the start of your contract.

Next steps and further information

Practical help from careers 

Careers appointments: To help you prepare for interviews we offer two types of appointments with career consultants, each lasting 45 minutes:

  • Interview preparation sessions are an informal chat to inform you of the kinds of questions you're likely to face, and everything else you should expect.
  • Mock interviews are more formal sessions where you will be asked the type of questions you are likely to face at interview by the adviser, who will then offer you constructive feedback and advice on your performance.

You can choose either one of these sessions or both depending on how confident you feel and how your previous experiences have gone. Give us a call now on 01274 234991 to discuss the best appointment for you.

Build My Career: features an Interview Simulator which allows you to practice online and record and playback your answers.

(The above link works with your UoB student username and password, graduates and other users can log in via the Build My Career page.)

Further reading

 

  • Read our booklet

    You can pick up a copy of our 64-page booklet Your Guide To... Finding a Job in careers reception. It features all the above information plus lots more on finding and applying for jobs, employability skills and the interview process.

    You can also download or read it online via the link below.

Your Guide To... Getting a job 2017
Our 64-page booklet Your Guide To... Getting a job is written specifically for students of the University of Bradford and covers job searching, applications and the interview process.Download Your Guide To... Getting a job 2017
(PDF, 1497KB)

Creating your CV

If you've not created a CV before, the Build My Career CV Builder is designed to help you, using a step by step approach with advice and information for each section.

The above link works with your UoB student username and password, graduates and other users can log in via the Build My Career page.

You can then download this as a word document and make further amendments as required, using the information and advice below as a guide.

What is a CV?

A CV is a one or two page document which shows your skills, achievements, qualifications and experience. CVs vary from country to country, but the information here is to help you make a conventional UK CV. The American English term for CV is ‘resume’, so you may also hear this mentioned. Your CV gives an overview of who you are and what you have to offer an employer.

Why do I need one?

  • CVs are often requested as part of the application process.
  • You will need one if you are making speculative enquiries to an organisation to find out if there are any potential opportunities for you.
  • Recruitment agencies usually ask for a CV.
  • Uploading your CV to jobs websites can make it easier for recruiters to find you and get in touch with opportunities.
  • We recommend offering a copy of your CV to employers attending careers fairs, so make sure you bring plenty of copies with you.

Types of CV

There are a variety of CVs used in the UK today and whilst it’s true that you can have different formats of CV, you also need to think about the type of job you are applying for, the organisation’s culture, your experience and how you wish to sell yourself to the employer.

Types of CV include:

  • Chronological: details your education and work history in reverse date order.

  • Skills-based: emphasises the skills you have developed throughout your employment, education, voluntary activities, etc. The details about your employment and education are usually kept to a minimum, with the focus being a larger skills section detailing your transferable skills. Evidence and examples should be included to back these up.

  • Hybrid: these CVs combine the above two styles. They feature a more detailed employment and education section, as well as a skills section with evidence and examples.

  • Academic: most commonly used in postgraduate applications for research based or lecturing positions. This format places greater emphasis on the subjects you have studied, projects or dissertations undertaken and areas of academic interest and research. Post-doctoral CVs also need to include a summary of research expertise together with a list of publications and conferences attended (if applicable).

  • Infographic & Video CVs: in creative industries, an unusual approach can help your application stand out from the crowd. This could be in the form of an infographic CV, using graphic design to present your skills and experience in an interesting way, or a video or animated/interactive CV to show off your skills. However, for traditional and non-creative roles, a quirky CV may single you out for the wrong reasons and harm your application, so try and gauge your audience beforehand.

CV guideline
A template CV to demonstrate how to layout your skills and experienceDownload CV guideline
(PDF, 146KB)

What to include in your CV

Firstly, have a look at our CV guideline template above. It will give you an idea of what information you should put where, and how a professional CV should look.

There is no rule about what you must include in your CV, but the following points are typically what you need to include in all types of CV:

Personal details:

Do include: your name, address, telephone number, current and most reliable email address. You could also add your LinkedIn account or other social media links if appropriate.

Don't include: a photo, your date of birth, gender, ethnicity, marital status, national insurance number or religion in a UK CV.


Personal Profile:

An optional extra. If you do decide to use one, make sure it adds value to your CV - don’t just use generic buzzwords. Focus on the role applied for and include personal qualities, experience and skills.

These are useful in academic CVs as they can be helpful for highlighting the area of research you want to enter. 

Can also be useful in explaining a change of direction in your studies or career if you have a varied work or educational history.


Education and Qualifications:

Work backwards, starting with university, followed by your high school (A-Levels, GCSEs or equivalents). If you have not yet graduated you can give your predicted or expected degree results e.g. BSc (Hons) Computer Science – expected 2:1.

There is no need to put education prior to high school in a CV. Put the full name, dates, and overall grades acquired for each qualification. You don't have to write the full address of each institution - the city or town will do if it's not obvious from the institution name.

If you have lots of additional qualifications you could include a separate Additional Qualifications section. For overseas qualifications you should indicate the UK equivalence.


Employment History or Work Experience:

Include information about the organisation you worked for and give dates, your role, duties, responsibilities and skills developed. Even if you have no paid work experience then you should include any voluntary experience here.


Skills/Personal Qualities:

Provide information about any exceptional skills you have, quantifying how you developed them. For instance, rather than just stating “I have excellent presentation skills”, provide evidence, such as “My verbal presentation skills have been developed to an excellent standard as a result of delivering weekly seminar presentations to groups of 20+ as part of my degree”.

It is always better to produce a revised and focused CV for each application, as matching the skills on your CV to the advertised job description will improve your chances of being shortlisted.

Try to avoid duplicating information shown elsewhere on your CV.


Interests, Responsibilities and Achievements:

This is optional, but many employers value it as it can indicate skills such as teamwork, time management and your personal priorities.

Are there any of your personal interests that reflect the job? For example, if you are involved in gaming tournaments and applying for video game design roles, or you volunteer for a cause which has a similar ethos to the organisation you are applying to.

Try to include a range of activities and show how they enable you to develop as a person. How often do you do the activity? What level have you reached?

Include any positions of responsibility you have held, such as treasurer of your football club, or social secretary of the pharmacy society, etc.


Additional Skills:

This section is not compulsory but is useful to include if you have additional or specialist skills and qualifications, especially if they are relevant to your application. Think about the skills and experience you have gained from your studies, work experience and your personal life that would be valued in the role, for example:

  • Laboratory Skills: "I have an excellent knowledge of laboratory techniques including protein analysis, handling human samples, analysis of vitamin C content by titration..."
  • IT Skills: "I have extensive experience using Microsoft Office, SAGE, Java, HTML, CAD etc."
  • Languages: "I am fluent in reading, writing and speaking Urdu and Punjabi"
  • Current First Aid Certificate from St John Ambulance
  • Full Clean UK Driving Licence

References:

Either give details of two people, or state ‘references available on request’. Ideally you should have one academic referee and your most recent employer.

Don’t forget to ask your referees for permission.

Presenting & submitting your CV

Two pages only

Most UK CVs are two pages long - you should be able to fit all your relevant skills and experience on two sides.

Make sure you place key information at the top of each page as it has the most impact on the reader.

Formatting

  • Use a clearly legible font, e.g. Arial, Calibri, Verdana, or Tahoma, in no smaller than size 11.
  • Put headings and subheadings in a larger font, and consider using bold, italics or underline to emphasise them.
  • Make sure your dates are consistently formatted, clearly chronological and aligned.
  • Use consistent subheadings - for instance, list all previous employment items in the same style.
  • Use short blocks of information, in bullet points if possible - these are much easier to read than large blocks of text.
  • Think carefully about use of colour - formatting for black and white is your safest bet when it comes to reproducing your CV.

Submitting your CV

Always send a covering letter together with your CV, make sure you have read the submission guidelines and you are sending it how the recruiter wants it.

By email

  • When emailing, add your covering letter and CV as attachments, rather than typing the covering letter in the email itself, to ensure both are formatted correctly and are professional looking.
  • Keep the email formal, professional and concise when applying for a job.  Always follow the employer’s instructions and quote any references they require.  You also will need to say that your CV and covering letter are attached.
  • Think about your email address - it is best to use a professional sounding one rather than a personal address.

By post

  • If sending your CV by post, use good quality white or cream paper, and a high-resolution printer to give a professional impression.

  • Post early to ensure you meet the closing date.

Example email for submitting your CV


To:          mrjohnson@azsolutions.co.uk

Subject:  CV and covering letter for the post of Graduate Data Analyst, reference 112/A

 

Dear Mr Johnson,

Please find attached my CV and covering letter to apply for the position of Graduate Data Analyst. I would be grateful if you could confirm receipt of this application by return email.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,

 

Maria Khan

maria_khan@businessmail.co.uk

07888 123456

 

Useful words and phrases

If you are finding it difficult to find words to describe yourself and your experience, see our useful words and phrases page for suggestions that can help you portray a positive and proactive image.

Frequently asked questions about CVs

Do I have to produce a new CV for every application?

Yes. If a CV is targeted to the job and organisation, you will significantly increase your chances of getting shortlisted for interview. This doesn't mean you have to start from the beginning every time however, you can have a generic CV which you can use as a basis for each application that you can adapt to match your skills and experience with those on the job description.

Will my CV be read?

In the current job market, employers receive a lot of CVs. Recent surveys suggest that employers may only give a CV an initial 7-to-10 second glance before deciding if they want to read it in more detail or discard it. Although this sounds worrying, if you make sure that your CV is clearly laid out and you demonstrate valuable skills, the employer will want to read it more carefully.

Should I embellish the truth to make my CV stand out?

Definitely not. Any lies on your CV are likely to be found out, which is likely to lead to your dismissal if you get the job. Whether you are offered a job or not, if you are found guilty of making a fraudulent job application you may be placed on the CIFAS Internal Fraud database for six years, which would seriously damage your chances of finding work- see this Graduate Application Fraud Leaflet for the full details.

How should I lay out my CV?

Make sure you read this page for all our hints and tips, but an important point to remember is to place key information at the top of each page to have the most impact, and always start a page with a new section; it is good practice to start and finish individual sections on the same page.

Should I include a photo?

There is no need to include a photo, or your date of birth, gender, ethnicity, marital status, or religion in a UK CV.

Also, do not include a National Insurance number to avoid any online identity theft.

Can I split up my employment history into relevant experience and other work, such as part-time jobs?

Yes- you may want to divide your employment or work experience into sections, such as Relevant Employment ExperienceOther Employment Experience, or Voluntary Experience depending on what you have to offer. Alternatively, you may want to create a specific section on its own e.g. Industrial PlacementIntercalation YearSummer Internship/Summer Experience etc. Think about the role and what the recruiter will want to know about the most.

What about other qualifications?

Do include other relevant qualifications e.g. ECDL, PRINCE2, COSHH, Health & Safety, etc.

If you have overseas qualifications, indicate their UK equivalence.

Sample CVs

Take a look at this example CV from a University of Bradford graduate:

Some of the successful points of this particular CV include:

  • Formatting: relatively simple but consistent in terms of fonts, headings, bullet points, etc. which gives a professional appearance.
  • Order: the first page demonstrates academic and technical skills to show that the graduate has the appropriate knowledge in their field, the second page covers transferable skills and other experience which shows that they are 'well-rounded'.
  • Contact details: all the relevant information is here (including a LinkedIn profile address) but it takes up very little space.
  • Skills given headings: makes it easy to pick out important skills that a recruiter might be interested in.

 

Below are more sample CVs covering a range of different subject areas relevant to University of Bradford students (there are also some sample CVs for part-time jobs on our part-time jobs pages).

These CVs vary in format and style, but should give you ideas on what order and layout will suit your application the most- remember, your CV is unique and should reflect your particular skills, achievements and qualifications.

 


Next steps and further information

  • Drop In: For students who have never had their CV seen before, we offer introductory drop-in sessions where you can get initial feedback on your CV. These are available every weekday throughout the year, from 10am-12pm and 1-3pm.
  • Appointments with Careers: Once you have been to a drop in session, one of our Career Consultants can make further suggestions for improvement on the content. To make an appointment please call us on 01274 234991 or call into Career and Employability Services reception in Student Central.
  • Build My Career: There is a comprehensive section dedicated to CVs on our Build My Career portal, featuring videos, audio clips and other help and advice, including an extremely useful interactive CV builder.
  • Part-time jobs: There's much more information about applying for part-time jobs here.
  • Information Room: We have a wide range of CV and covering letter resources in our Information Room in Student Central, including specialist reference books (such as the Creative CV Guide, You're Hired! How To Write A Brilliant CV) & DVDs (e.g. Cover Letters - The Write Approach).
  • Call in and see us and we will help you access the resources you need.
  • Workshops: We also regularly run workshops on a wide range of topics including CVs- see the schedule and book your place.
  • Read our booklet

    You can pick up a copy of our 64-page booklet Your Guide To... Finding a Job in careers reception. It features all the above information plus lots more on finding and applying for jobs, employability skills and the interview process.

    You can also download or read it online via the link below.

Your Guide To... Getting a job 2017
Our 64-page booklet Your Guide To... Getting a job is written specifically for students of the University of Bradford and covers job searching, applications and the interview process.Download Your Guide To... Getting a job 2017
(PDF, 1947KB)

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