General Advice

Sophie Clarke and Daniel Heath provide the following advice and information for our readers

Sophie Clarke

Talent Acquisition Advisor / Parapara Whiwhi Kaitohutohu


The theme of my career has been a focus on people, working in fast paced industries and being part of something exciting in people’s lives. I have worked across both agency and internal recruitment in public and private sector. I enjoy providing recruitment solutions and forming solid and long term relationships. I truly enjoy working with people, am motivated to provide great service, always show care in what I do and absolutely understand the importance of having the right person in the right role.

1) First impressions on paper

What are you looking for on a CV or cover letter from someone who is new in the industry, or back from a gap year (remember them?) or who is taking the plunge from bar work to what they studied in?  

If a person’s CV does not tell a story that makes it clear why they are applying for the role, then a statement up front that tells me why this job, why this industry and why this place of work helps.

Address what they believe they can bring to the role, I would want to see that they have thought about what makes them relevant/right for the position and have an understanding of what the position entails and the transferable skills they can bring.

3) First impressions in person

How should someone “turn up” in every sense of the phrase?

It is important to be yourself and we all have different versions of ourselves for different situations. A bit of research on the place you are interviewing at can help you decide whether to turn up in a suit or business casual. Then I think it is like going to the movies. You don’t want to miss the start so get there a bit early and make sure your cell phone is on silent.

A smile goes a long way. Its okay to be nervous, take a few deep breaths and do your best!

5) Researching the company – what’s important to know? 

Should our career beginner research your company, and what should they pay attention to? 

The free latte’s? The close proximity to the bus stop? The NASDAQ & stock price? 

What really wins over a hiring manager in the interview is around company knowledge. 

Having done some research on what matters to that workplace is important because you want to be sure it matters to you as well. For example, check out the company values and purpose to be sure they align with your own.    

It’s not so much being able to recite the annual report but more that you have taken the time to learn about who they are as a company and can articulate why you want to be part of it. Especially in this market, you are choosing them as much as they are choosing you!

2) Transferrable skills, technical skills, personable skills 

What are you looking for on our career beginner’s CV? 

Sharing relevant achievements from any work experience (paid or unpaid) that demonstrate the skills that the hirer is looking for. It needs to be about what you achieved, what you were known for.

That they have worked/volunteered/been part of something – this shows motivation to get involved and the ability to organise themselves. It also gives them options for referees! 

4) Any advice for a winning interview formula? 

Practice is really important. Go through some common interview questions or ones you think they might ask you – think about your answers and practice them so they feel natural and you can put your own personality to it. Know about the company, read their website, what is happening for them at the moment and reference this – it shows you have taken the time and are interested in the position/organisation.

If you don’t understand the question ask them to clarify it. This allows you to make sure your answer is relevant.

Have some questions that you want to ask as well.
Let them see your personality. It’s an interview but they want to get a sense of you too!

6) And finally – any other advice you can give our career beginners entering the world of ICT interviews? 

Think of each interview as an opportunity – you might not feel like you nail it the first time (or the fifth time) but its always an opportunity to connect with people, build your network and you never know where that might lead. If you aren’t successful ask for feedback – what did you do well and what do you need to work on?

Stay positive – it will happen!


Video Resources

How to write your CV

Follow this CV template and tips to ensure you cover almost everything a potential employer may want to see in this very important document.

Video interviewing tips

Daniel Heath

Senior IT Recruiter (Wellington)


An experienced IT Recruiter who started in the industry in Wellington 2002. Moving to London in 2004 he sourced senior IT candidates across the Insurance market in London. Moving back home to Wellington in 2014 and continuing to place IT professionals into permanent and contract roles within Government and Private sector businesses.