Candidates / CV and interview guidelines

Candidates / CV and interview guidelines

No matter what your skills or track record, the right preparation and presentation is vital to winning the right roles. We take pride in helping consultants shine during the application process. This page offers expert tips on preparing an impressive CV and performing at your best during interview.


Your CV is probably the most important tool in a job hunt. It has the power to open – and close – doors and is one of the few elements of a job search that you have complete control over. To use it to full advantage, you need to ensure it is clear and concise and that it communicates your skills, experience and personal attributes to optimal effect.

On average, employers take around 30 seconds to scan a CV and come to a decision as to whether to invite the applicant to interview. Increase your chances with our top tips here.

The essentials

  • Be creative in your CV presentation and choice of font, but keep the layout clean and uncluttered
  • Place the key information on the first page
  • Summarise your qualifications, skills and experience in short paragraphs or bullet-points
  • Communicate your personal strengths and qualities to differentiate you from other candidates
  • Highlight any specific achievements in your work, academic or personal life
  • Clearly demonstrate your proven ability to add value to the role you’re seeking

The layout

  • Start your CV with your name and contact details so you can be easily reached by telephone or email
  • Follow with a personal introduction/profile spotlighting your qualities and career objectives
  • Use the rest of the first page to present the most important and relevant information about yourself: so if your academic background is key, highlight your education and then your career record. If the reverse, start with your professional capabilities followed by your education.
  • Finish your CV with a brief summary of your non-work interests


  • DO send your CV in Word format
  • DO summarise information so it’s concise, brief and to-the-point
  • DO keep the layout simple, easy-to-follow and in logical order
  • DO DOUBLE check for spelling and grammatical errors – run spell checks and re-read the finished document to ensure it makes sense and spot typos
  • DON’T use photos or other decorative gimmicks – these can distract attention from other, more important information
  • DON’T over-use the first person – repeated use of ‘I’ or ‘me’ may appear arrogant or overly informal
  • DON’T proffer unnecessary information – irrelevant content won’t add value, wastes space and may appear negative if, for instance, it’s related to reasons for leaving previous roles

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Although descriptions, the job market and job search techniques constantly change, the interview will always be a permanent fixture of job hunting. It provides you with a golden opportunity to shine out, so it’s vital that you are on the ball from the start.

The essentials

Be prepared
Read your CV and the job description just before your interview. Study the company’s website or printed literature to ensure you know what it offers and get a feel for its culture. Familiarise yourself with the latest industry developments and consider how your skills and experience fit the role in question. You may be asked about the salary you require, so research typical levels of remuneration appropriate to your qualifications and record.

Give a good impression
Be punctual, dress smartly and know the location of your interview and name and title of your interviewer. Try and make small talk between the reception and interview room. Greet the interviewer/s with a smile and firm handshake, and give good eye contact.

Be clear and take time
Answer questions properly and clearly, even if you need a few moments to collect your thoughts.

Know why they should hire you
Most job advertisements list the qualities required by the successful candidate, such as good teamwork and communication skills. Be sure to highlight that you have these skills and give examples of how you have put them into action. Talk about your knowledge, experience and personal attributes: have at least three strong points about yourself ready that relate to the company and role on offer.

Be positive
Your interviewer will be considering what you will be like to work with, so project a positive, can-do
attitude. Avoid talking about your boss or current colleagues behind their back: interviewers
respond best to candidates who are enthusiastic and embrace challenges.

Watch your body language
It’s often not what you say but how. Maintain good eye contact, sit upright and avoid folding your arms, leaning back or looking at the floor. Use your hands and lean forward when making a point. If you find it hard to think and control your body language, practise doing so before the interview.

Be ready for anything
A recent survey found that 90% of employers ask ‘killer’ questions to try and catch candidates off guard. Although it’s impossible to predict these questions – which may include queries such as ‘How would your colleagues describe you?’ – it’s important to be prepared and stay calm and controlled if they are asked. Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if necessary but don’t evade it.

Develop rapport
Show energy, a sense of humour and smile. Being positive and enthusiastic is ‘infectious’. It’s a good idea to ask your interviewer questions about themselves and any issues the business is facing.

If you are unsure, clarify
If you are uncertain about the meaning of a question, request clarification. As the interview ends, ask if there is anything else the interviewer would like to know. Don’t be afraid to ask when you might hear a decision.

Be well mannered
It’s better to choose than be chosen. Tell the interviewer why you are interested in the company and job opportunity. Ask them for a business card and follow up your interview with a thank you email or letter saying how much you enjoyed finding out more about the company and expressing your enthusiasm about the role. Take the opportunity to briefly reiterate the key skills and attributes you offer.

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