Job applications , CVs and interviews

If you’re applying for a job in a big company or organisation, you’ll normally have to:

  • complete an online application process or
  • send your CV with a covering letter or e-mail.

Always follow any instructions very carefully. You will not help your chances if you send in the wrong type of document or miss out a whole section of the application process.

Always double-check everything for spelling and accuracy. Get a friend to help if you’re not confident.

Online application processes

These vary from organisation to organisation. Some are quite straightforward, others are more complicated and involve tests as well as just information about yourself.

Some practical tips:

  • Make sure you save your application in case you have to stop before you’re finished
  • If you have to write some text (eg explaining your reasons for wanting the job, or why you have the skills they’re looking for) it’s easiest to write and edit in Word first, then paste it into the application.

CVs and covering letters

A CV (“curriculum vitae”) is simply a short document setting out the key details of your education, qualifications, work experience, job roles, skills and interestsIt should also contain up-to-date contact details and the name of one or two “referees” who are prepared to say something positive about you.

Once you are 16 or so and beginning to look for jobs, it is a good idea to prepare a standard CV on your computer. When you see a possible job or opening, you can then “tailor” it to emphasise the most relevant parts for that job/opening.

This page from Prospects (the commercial arm of the Higher Education Careers Service Unit) has some excellent, clear, advice on writing a CV. It also includes links to some example CVs.

You should normally send your CV with a “covering letter”. This allows you to address your potential employer directly, and explain why your particular skills make you ideal for that particular job. Again, Prospects has some excellent advice on writing the perfect covering letter.


You may be asked to attend an interview as part of the selection process. Many people find interviews hard, but you can help yourself by being:

  • prepared. Make sure you know about the company or organisation, and think about your answers to standard questions – why you want to work there and what skills you can bring. Practise with a teacher or adult in your family.
  • polite. Turn up on time, smile at everyone you meet, say please and thank you as required, look interested, and listen to what everyone says.
  • dressed appropriately. Most employers won’t expect teenagers to dress like highly paid business executives, but make an effort to look smart and professional – clean shoes, neat hair, neutral clothes.

Life Skills by Barclays has some very useful advice on preparing for interviews.

You might also be interested in these pages:

Make yourself heard
Effective communicating