Graduate Recruitment - CV & Interview Advice - Sphere Digital Recruitment

CV & Interview advice

How long do you think employers spend reviewing your CV? There’s research out there that suggests that employers spend no longer than 6 seconds reviewing CVs while some says it’s no more than 30 seconds. Whatever the answer, it doesn’t give you much time to impress so it’s important you catch the eye of your potential employers.

To help, we’ve outlined some ‘top tips’ on how to make your CV stand out:

Tailor your CVDownload an example CV

CV tailoring doesn’t mean re-writing your CV forevery application; it can actually be done fairly quickly once you’re familiar with the process and you understand which of your qualities/experience are most important to a particular role.

Make sure you read the job advert thoroughly and match up your skills with job requirements wherever possible and make sure this experience shines through. You can always add in information you may have previously left out if you think it’ll help your chances.

Format you CV well

Employers hiring graduates won’t have the time to search your CV for hidden details that could support your application, so it’s important your CV if well formatted and logically structured into readable sections.

Most CVs follow the same format, with information given in reverse chronological order (most recent achievements first):

  • Personal details
  • Education and qualifications
  • employment history/work experience
  • Other interests, skills and achievements e.g. positions of responsibility, language skills, IT skills etc.

Present the information in an order that best reflects your strengths, showing how you match the employer's requirements.

Don’t waste time on personal statements

Three or four lines at the top of your CV that describe yourself as energetic, ambitious, enthusiastic etc. add little as everyone uses them. Instead, include your career objectives, what you want to do and why. This is both different to the norm and helps you focus on what you want to do. This is important to employers when recruiting graduates as too many applicants have no idea what they want to do.

Check your CV carefully

Once you have finished your CV print off a copy and read through it to make sure you are happy that it:

  • Makes sense
  • Is targeted to the job and employer
  • Shows you meet the employer's minimum requirements
  • Has no spelling errors

Try to get feedback from other people you trust.

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Interview Advice

1. Phone interview

Phone interviews gauge your communication skills and are usually an introduction to the company and a chat through your CV.

* Top tip - Ensure you are somewhere quiet with good signal and expect their call. Have some questions prepared for the interviewer at the end of the call.

2. Online Testing

Online tests are used to test skills ability in areas like writing, maths/analytics and personality. A lot of companies use these.  Particularly larger companies and for marketing, analytical and technical roles.

* Top tip - Do your preparation, don’t just jump straight into the test.

3. Group Interviews

Group Interviews are most commonly used when companies are hiring multiple staff. They give you a chance to find out more about the company and the role and will usually include team exercises and sometimes a one-to-one interview.

* Top tip - Make sure to be open and engaging in group interviews. Take a leading role but be aware it is very important to listen to, acknowledge and understand others.

4. Competency Interviews

Competency based interviews are fairly “standard”. Prepare thoroughly make sure you know about the role and be ready to answer questions about your CV, skills and scenarios.

* Top tip - It’s all about the preparation!

​Top interview questions asked

  • Why have you applied to this company?
  • What do you know about the company?
  • Why this role?
  • What are your key skills you can bring to the company?
  • Talk me through your CV / academics / experience / extracurricular

The top competency based interview questions

  • Tell us about a situation where your communication skills made a difference to a situation?
  • Tell us about a time when you felt that conflict or differences were a positive driving force in your organisation. How did handle the conflict to optimise its benefit?
  • What big decision did you make recently? How did you go about it?
  • Describe a situation where you had to change your approach half-way through a project or task following new input into the project
  • Describe a situation where you were able to influence others on an important issue. What approaches or strategies did you use?
  • Tell me about a time when you showed integrity and professionalism
  • Tell us about a situation where you had to get a team to improve its performance. What were the problems and how did you address them?
  • Tell us about a situation where things deteriorated quickly. How did you react to recover from that situation?
  • Tell us about risks that you have taken in your professional or personal life? How did you go about making your decision?
  • Describe a situation in which you were a member of team. What did you do to positively contribute to it?

Top Tips for interviews

  • Dress appropriately - each work place has a different dress code
  • Prepare thoroughly - understand what the company do, who their competitors are, what the role is and why are you interested in it?
  • Ask questions - show an interest

This is key, use this as an opportunity to showcase your research, highlight your interest and make an impression.

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