Do’s and Don’ts when applying for a job – according to a recruitment consultant

Applying for a job can be challenging, and being turned down without knowing why can be hard. However, delivery is key when applying, and first impressions are everything. If you know how to deliver, you will make a good first impression. But how? I have spoken to Josefin Bokedal who works as a recruitment consultant…

Klara Gaskell-Brown Avatar

Applying for a job can be challenging, and being turned down without knowing why can be hard. However, delivery is key when applying, and first impressions are everything. If you know how to deliver, you will make a good first impression. But how?

I have spoken to Josefin Bokedal who works as a recruitment consultant at Poolia in Malmö. Based on her expertise in the area, we have sorted out the most common mistakes that people normally make in the recruitment process, and how to avoid them. Below are a few do’s and don’ts that I’ve gathered for when you’re applying for a job.

How long should a CV be and how much should the applicant write on each merit?

Your CV should not be longer than one A4 page, and try to only include the most relevant experiences for the position when writing the CV – present three to four previous experiences. Place the most recent employment at the top, and include type of position, period of time, and a short summary of your main tasks. Furthermore, education, driver’s license and which languages you speak are important to include in your CV, as well as skills in relevant IT programs such as Microsoft Office. Write your contact details, and if you have plans on moving – write that as well. For example “I live in Lund but plan on moving to Stockholm on August 1st”.

Which competencies are of significance in the CV and personal statement?

Identify the skills that are of importance for the position, which usually are formulated in the ad. Focus on these in your CV and personal statement.

What are important to consider when writing a personal statement? 

In the personal statement, the most important part is to write why you are the right person for the job you are applying for. Keep it short (about half an A4 page) and exemplify through your previous experiences and your interest in the company. For instance, describe what caught your interest for the position and why you think you are the right one for the job. However, do not write anything about hobbies or personal relationships, pets, etc. Also, a very important thing, do not speak badly about your former employer.

How should you prepare yourself before an interview?

It’s normal to have a telephone interview as a first step in the recruitment process. If you have applied to many jobs, be sure to remember which job you have applied for in order to avoid asking awkward and ignorant questions such as “I can’t remember what I applied for, can you please describe more?”. Additionally, make sure you are well-read about the company. Normally, the first question at an interview is “What made you apply for this position?”. In this situation, show the recruiter that you know the company and have a genuine interest to learn more. Continue to describe why the company and the position would be a perfect match for you. Another recurring question in interviews is “Which one of your experiences would be of most value in this position?”. Be prepared to describe a situation in which you have shown one or more of the qualities that the company is looking for. It could be cooperation skills, analytical skills, creativity, structure, etc.

What is the most common mistake an applicant makes at an interview? 

The most common mistake is probably to not prepare yourself entirely before the interview. Many forget to give concrete examples of previous experiences and qualities relevant to the role, and knowing too little about the company is a common mistake as well. Also, speaking badly about the previous employer is a mistake many applicants make. It’s better to find a professional way to formulate why you are looking for something else, since it indicates maturity and professionalism. 

What makes “the perfect candidate”? 

Someone curious! A perfect candidate is someone who asks questions and shows genuine interest in the role. Of course, the basic requirements such as education, experience, driver’s license, etc are usually needed, but passion shines through and makes the recruiter understand that the candidate has a drive and wants the job. 


Before an interview, practice standard interview questions with a friend or a family member. When you have done it a couple of times, you will feel more confident and be more comfortable during the interview. Also, if you can choose between a digital interview or a physical interview, always choose a physical one!

With that being said, good luck and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t make it on the first try – practice makes perfect!

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