Posts Tagged ‘job application’

The impact of personal interests and hobbies on job applications

Thursday, October 27th, 2011
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At PPS we screen thousands of job applications daily on behalf of our clients, working to set criteria that we have worked together to create.

We are seeing more and more employers add extracurricular activities and hobbies to their short listing criteria, giving more weight to this area of an application as a potential deciding factor during a selection process.

Most CVs have a section in which candidates can state their hobbies and interests away from the workplace. Opinions between recruiters are divided as to whether this section is relevant in actually landing a job. But there are a few hobbies and interests that demand attention on a CV and will be picked up on by a potential employer. Tips for an interview

Relevant hobbies and interests are activities that may be appropriate to the employment you are seeking. For instance, if a candidate were seeking a job position that entailed overseeing staff, then hobbies such as being the captain of a local football team may be significant in displaying leadership qualities. If a candidate undertakes voluntary work at Citizens Advice offices or national associations such as the Samaritans, then it could illustrate good people skills.

Most employers will have looked over a CV before interviewing a candidate. Interesting or unusual pastimes could act as ice breakers at the beginning of an interview. Hobbies such as scuba diving, skiing, dancing and horse riding may not seem unusual to the candidate, but they will be a good talking point for an interviewer. Golf may not seem a usual hobby for most, but many big  companies have some form of sports team, and it is a subtle way of showing that a candidate is a team player.

Many advertisements for jobs now specify a range of desired traits, so match these to your leisure interests. Offer variety and avoid lists. Specific detail is what makes it interesting to the reader, so give examples and emphasize any significant achievements related to your interests. It’s all about making a good first impression and capturing the interest of your recruiter so avoid the obvious pitfalls when including your hobbies, and steer the recruiters towards interests that add to your employability.

Recruiters what do you think? Do you pay any attention to this aspect of a candidate’s application or CV?

And job seekers, do you think your hobbies or extracurricular activities should impact your job application to an employer?

By Louise Birch, a recruiter at PPS.

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Is the CV a true reflection of a candidate’s abilities?

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011
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There is no simple answer to this question. Long used as the factual guide to a candidate’s skills and experiences, the answer should be yes. However, in an increasingly candidate rich market, this is not always the case nor it is necessarily always enough to recruit on.

The CV should include all the characteristics, skills and experience to match to the requirements of the role – it should effectively act as a check list for both employers and potential employees. With the inclusion of work history and gradual career progression, the CV can offer a clear indication of a candidate’s career expectations. Listing educational achievements echoes an individual’s career choice. With such information, an employer can begin to form questions and ideas around the suitability of the candidate along with queries regarding career goals or gaps in work history – which can then be used at a later stage of the selection process.Talent pool end users

Given the pool of information a candidate can offer up about themselves, the CV truly is an opportunity to sell to a prospective employer. As we always say at PPS – this is your only chance to make a good first impression.

From an employer’s point of view, it is an excellent way of gaining an insight into a candidate’s ability – and ultimately deciding whether they fit the job description criteria.

However, we all know that candidate suitability is more than whether or not they tick the ‘hardworking’ box or the ‘reliable’ box. Often the cultural fit to an organization is more important or relevant than the credentials on a CV.

In volume recruitment, for example for the role of a Customer Service Advisor the skills set is apparent and experiences may be similar but employers need to find people who fit into their organizations. Here, testing and assessing a candidate’s motivation is more relevant than whether they have had any experience. Surely these are characteristics and traits that cannot be illustrated on two pieces of A4 paper? Is this a gap that the video CV can fill?

Click here to read more of Kate’s thoughts

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‘Bad’ applicants – generic examples of the types of candidates rejected at CV screen

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011
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Here at PPS, we screen 100’s of CV’s on a weekly basis, often with many being rejected at the first stage. Some of these rejections could be prevented if the candidate was actually aware of the role they are applying for.

For example, if you are applying for a retail role, would you tailor your CV so that your accounting skills are highlighted accompanied with paragraphs describing how you really want a career in finance? A potential employer would take one look at this and question your commitment straight away.

Using our recruitment expertise, we have devised some key PPS tips to making a good first impression:
Click here to read our tips!

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Come on candidates, help yourselves!

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011
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Example Online Application Form QuestionHere at PPS we recruit for many different positions, but one thing they all have in common is candidates who fall at the first hurdle by not helping themselves.

Whilst recently assessing online forms for a Graduate scheme, I was amazed by the number of candidates who missed out sections completely or had clearly copied and pasted answers from other online applications – in some cases not even changing the company name from one application to the next!

So why do so many online applications go unchecked? Granted it does take time to fill them in, however in this particular example the applicants in question were on course for good degree results, had demonstrated strong work experience and extra-curricular activities, yet did not take the time to review their application to ensure it read well to their potential future employer.

On then contacting these candidates to conduct pre-arranged telephone interviews (at a time to suit them), I was also surprised at the absence rate. If you’ve arranged a telephone interview why wouldn’t you be there at the agreed time? Maybe emergencies are on the increase?!

I’m sure this may be a sign of my age… Read more here

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Making yourself more employable

Tuesday, March 15th, 2011
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Times are hard in the job world for a lot of people right now. Clearly there are still millions of us gainfully employed, as well as many of us moving easily between jobs, often having taken a pick from several opportunities. But there are big groups of job hunters who are not finding it so easy. From the thousands of graduates finding it hard to get work, to the groups of recently, or not so recently laid off who have not yet found a way back to employment, there are thousands of job seekers who could do with an edge.

Working for a recruitment process outsourcing company, you get to see a lot of CVs, and speak to a lot of applicants for all sorts of different jobs and different clients. Therefore here are my sure-fire tips to what to do, and what to avoid during the application process in terms of making yourself more employable.

Find out what Will’s sure-fire tips…

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Typical Assessment Centre Exercises – Be prepared, Hints and Tips

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011
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What happens at an assessment centre?

Assessment centres have always been prominent within recruitment. Traditionally they were used for bulk recruitment campaigns aimed at graduate or junior level roles; however more recently, there has been a trend towards applying the same techniques to more senior positions. This method of selection normally consists of a variety of activities, scheduled throughout the day assessing various skills.

So what can you expect when you attend an assessment centre and how do you prepare to ensure success?

Key points to consider prior to your assessment day

  • Plan your journey carefully to ensure you arrive in good time.
  • Always ask if the employer is willing to fund your transport/ accommodation.  Often travelling down the evening before your assessment will mean you feel fresher on the day.
  • It is highly recommended that you visit the company website to gain further understanding about the business, in addition to any other related publications or reports that will allow you to develop your knowledge on the business, and any factors affecting the business at that current time.
  • Complete a list of your main strengths, particularly those you feel may be applicable to the area for which you have applied. Think of ways you can utilise your key strengths in accordance with what the role requires.
  • Consider any areas of potential improvement and think about how you will address them.
  • Prepare any questions regarding the role and the company and take these along with you to discuss with the assessors.
  • Practice Aptitude tests online to familiarise yourself with the types of assessments you may be asked to complete on the day.
  • Always try and mingle with other candidates, this can sometimes make it less daunting during group exercises and at times assessors may be monitoring your communication skills and your ability to build relationships with others.
  • Use any coffee breaks to speak to assessors and create an impact. Use this time to ask questions and put across your interest.

Common Assessments and tips for success

At assessment centres the day will be planned in relation to the different exercises that will be due to take place. You are commonly provided with a schedule of the day, and informed of any specific times allocated to you to complete tests. You will need to focus upon each exercise as it happens. Remember your overall score is based on an accumulation of your scores throughout the day. So, if you think one aspect didn’t go very well, don’t give up, just ensure you try harder on the next task, and keep going.

Group exercises

Group exercises are in place to measure your ability to work within a team. Within these types of exercises, assessors are looking at how you articulate your ideas and your ability to listen to your team members. Exercises normally take the approach of an open discussion. Try and consider a valuable point to make, avoiding being seen as the loud or passive candidate.

Individual exercises

You may be required to complete aptitude and psychometric tests in addition to a variety of other individual exercises at an assessment day. These types of exercises predominately assess personal skills and your reasoning capacity. Ensure that you plan your work productively, considering the allocated time given to complete the work, and make sure you spend enough time on each section of the exercises.


It is common to be asked to complete a presentation at an assessment day. This may be something the recruiting company has asked you to prepare in advance, in which you will have to plan your time to ensure it’s ready to present to the assessors. The most common format assessors will look to follow is to ask you to prepare a presentation at the assessment day. Normally you will be given a topic or a choice of topics and each candidate will have 5- 10 minutes to prepare on the subject and present it to the group. You should aim to speak clearly and confidently being precise and to the point.

Psychometric testing

These types of tests are assessments not of your skills but of your personality. Employers practise these types of tests to evaluate your personality and behaviours. You may be asked to complete these types of tests online prior to or even during the assessment day. You need to be aware that there are no right or wrong answers to these types of tests; you just need to answer honestly. This can be one part of the assessment day that is of no stress to you!

Role Play

Role play exercises are normally based around a scenario which is directly related to the role you are applying for. Role plays allow the assessor to see how you cope with certain situations, in addition to how you demonstrate the required competencies for the role. The most common format followed is to be given a strategy paper and some allocated time to review and plan your response. This part of the planning will be assessing your ability to prioritise and manage your time effectively. Ensure that you demonstrate a positive approach and consider the key attributes employers are looking for within the role profile.

Biographical Interview

In addition to completing specific exercises, it is common to have an interview at your assessment day which will focus upon your qualifications and work experience. The interview will also address any areas assessors wish to discuss. It is helpful to take along a copy of your CV for this part of the day and use it to assist you with your discussion of your experiences and the responsibilities you have undertaken in your career.

After the assessment day

Clarify with the assessors when you will hear from them again as to the outcome of your performance. If you are unsuccessful you are entitled to ask for feedback. Most employers are happy to give this and it can be extremely helpful for making improvements and understanding how the scoring is completed at an assessment centre. Think about your performance and implement any changes you feel are necessary to improve your performance.

Overall, it is important to demonstrate a passion for the role and to demonstrate your skills and personality are a right fit for the recruiters brand.

Written by Louise Birch, a recruiter at recruitment process outsourcing company PPS.

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Advice for candidates in the recruitment process

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010
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Advice for candidates in the recruitment processIt has been a frustrating time over the last two years for candidates seeking work and actually gaining employment. It can be soul destroying and demoralising.

However companies still want the best person for the role – it is crucially important that any negative thoughts are dismissed from the very outset.

Please find below some top tips that will help in your job search.


In this whole process the application form and the job description are your greatest friend!

Preparation is the key.

Application forms/ CV tips

  • This is often laborious and boring and you feel like you have filled out ‘000 of forms and sent off your CV everywhere – however DON’T rush this part of the process – take care.
  • Remember this is the 1st time that this employer will have received your details.
  • Make your CV / application form match the job description – print out the person and job specification, highlight the key words and ensure you use these on your application.
  • Have a flexible and constantly changing CV – change your personal profile and the bullet points on your responsibilities to match to the job description.
  • With organisations receiving increasing numbers of applications, employers have less time to read the CV. Make yours punchy and relevant from the first second – put your most relevant skills 1st, bullet point your responsibilities, and keep it to 2 pages. You only have 5 -10 sec to make a first impression.
  • Remember that your CV is a career history and it is also your biggest sales tool!


The key here is to think Positive!


  • Tips for an interviewDo your preparation – it is crucial that you know about the company, the role and why you want the job.
  • Think about and prepare why you are suitable for the organisation – what transferable skills do you have? Write them down and be comfortable that they will just roll off the tongue when you are asked the question!
  • Practice competency based questions at home with friends and family – they can be your harshest critic – use their feedback.
  • Try and guess the questions that may come up – look at the details that you have on the role and try and predict 5 questions that you might get asked.
  • Don’t be late – this is something that is always stated but is so true. Make sure that you know where you are going – do a dummy run the night before. Put the interview time in your diary 30 mins earlier so give you room for delays.
  • Be confident about your Strengths and Weakness – know why your strength is relevant to the Company. Know your job description. Make sure your turn your weakness into a positive e.g. “I can sometimes be stubborn however this means that when I am set a task I have the mindset that I will achieve and that it I will do an excellent job.”


  • 1st impressions are EVERYTHING and are hard to take back – make sure you are smartly dressed, well presented and think about the smaller details.
  • On the way from reception to the interview room try and make brief small talk about the weather or something similar – start breaking down the barriers, building a rapport and bringing through your personality.
  • Give a strong handshake – one that oozes confidence and not one that squashes the interviewer’s hand!!
  • Don’t appear desperate – the employer may think that you want any job – not their job.
  • Be specific as to why you are particularly interested in this role.
  • Don’t ask questions about benefits i.e. salary, holidays etc. This can put off interviewers. Things like this can be discussed at a later date. Ask questions likes “where is the organisation heading in the next two years?” and “what is the culture of the company like?” – these appear to be more insightful and not all about ££.
  • Stay positive throughout your interview, even if you do not feel that the interview is going well, the interviewer might! Remain positive with a friendly, professional attitude.
  • During your interview avoid commenting negatively about previous employers or express negative views which may lead the interviewer to think badly of you. Be really careful on your reasons for leaving – prepare your answer well.
  • Sound as though you are already working for the Company and show genuine interest in the Company and their plans. Convince them that you can do the job and want the position.
  • IF and only if you feel confident at interview, ask them if they have any reservations about you, as you would really like the position. Be prepared for them to come back with negatives – handle these in a calm manner and overcome their reservations.

Good luck!!

Written by Kate Ingram, a recruiter  for recruitment process outsourcing company PPS.

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Common mistakes in CV’s and applications

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
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One of PPS’s recruitment co-ordinators, who sees 100’s of CVs on a weekly basis, was asked to discuss the most common mistakes that she comes across.

Due to the increasingly competitive job market, it is essential that your CV and application demonstrates immediately and exactly what you can do and why you are the right person for the role. This is your first opportunity to let an employer know why they should hire you, which is why you need to ensure that it is relevant, correct and error free.

The most common mistakes to make on a CV and application are:

Lack of attention to detail
It’s essential that spelling and grammar is correct. If you are unsure, ask someone to proof read it for you and use the spell check on your PC. Ensure that all information asked of you is completed on the application form. Copying and pasting from a previous application, and forgetting to change the name of the organisation you are applying to is likely to result in an immediate end to your application!

Incorrect information
If you put the wrong contact details on the CV, how will you be contacted? If you put the wrong grades or qualifications on the CV, and are found out, your application will be rejected! Make sure all your details are correct.

Lack of personal profile
This is a great way to catch the reader’s interest and show them why you are the right person for the job. Read the job description thoroughly and make sure you match your skills to those that the role and company are looking for.

Information in the wrong order
The recruiter needs to see the most relevant information as soon as possible. Start with the most recent work experience. Don’t fill up the first half of your CV with less relevant information such as short training courses!

Too lengthy
Try to keep your CV to 2 pages if possible. You do not need to include reasons for leaving and salary as you will be asked this at the interview stage.

Try to avoid writing long paragraphs, use bullet points as this is a quick and easy way for the recruiter to see your skills.

Written by Rachael Fide, a recruiter at PPS

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