Applications and Interview Preparation

Completing application forms

  • The vast majority of applications are now made via an online form  
  • You may still need to complete a paper-based application form. If this is the case, complete the form in black ink, ensuring your writing is legible  
  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete the form and build in time for technical issues that might occur if you are completing an online form  
  • Make sure you read the instructions very carefully. Not all systems allow you to save your work and return to the form later and you may have to complete it in one sitting.  
  • The application is usually your first contact with a future employer, the forms are structured so that they can ask about very specific skills and experiences and compare them to the job requirements.  
  • Read the questions carefully so that you understand what is being asked for  
  • Employers will often ask questions that focus on providing evidence for specific skills, e.g. teamworking, problem solving, communicating effectively etc. to answer these effectively you will need specific examples from your experience (academic, placement, work, voluntary etc.)  
  • Ensure your answers sit within the word or character limit that you are given. Going over the limit may mean that your answer appears to be incomplete. Write concisely and don’t waffle  
  • Using STAR (Situation > Task > Action > Result), or CAR (Context > Action > Result) can help you to structure your answers that ensures you provide the specific evidence the employer is looking for  
  • Some applications will require a supporting statement in support of your application. Structure your statement to address the criteria that the employer is recruiting to. Make it easy to read by ‘chunking’ the information you provide into short paragraphs.  
  • If your application doesn’t need to be completed in one sitting, save your work and return to it the next day. This can be useful in reviewing your content to ensure you are providing the information the employer is looking for. 

Making online applications

  • The rules of preparation and completing an online form are the same as for the paper version, and the same amount of preparation and care is needed
  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete the form and allow for system failures, which are not uncommon
  • Make sure you read the instructions very carefully. Not all systems allow you to save your work and return to the form later and you may have to complete it in one sitting.
  • Access guides, e-books and videos that can help you develop your job seeking skills

Psychometric tests

Many graduate employers use psychometric testing and assessment centres during the selection process. For more information on psychometric testing, have a look at this webpage, which contains a list of useful resources and information on how Careers and Employability can help you prepare.

Psychometric tests

Graduates First Resources

We have established a partnership with Graduates First for practice aptitude tests.

  • Seven verbal reasoning tests
  • Seven numerical reasoning tests
  • Seven logical reasoning tests
  • A work style personality questionnaire
  • Interview Question Identifier tool
  • Situational judgement test
  • Assessment centre exercises

Graduates First offer a variety of psychometric tests and other job assessment preparation solutions for students including detailed step-by-step guides to over 100 top graduate employer's recruitment stages and hints on how to pass their assessment process.

Register using your University email address at free aptitude tests from Graduates First

Useful books

The following books are available in the University Library

  • How to Pass Graduate Psychometric Tests by Mike Bryon - Includes 550 practice questions, 10 full length tests, glossary of essential terms in English usage, glossary of key mathematical terms and methods, study tips and winning test strategies, answers, explanations and interpretations of your scores.
  • How to Pass Numerical Reasoning Tests by Heidi Smith - Includes an overview of basics, a step-by-step guide to key skills including fractions and decimals; rates; percentages; ratios and proportions. Includes useful tips to help you understand and answer questions without a calculator.
  • How to Pass Verbal Reasoning Tests by Harry Tolley - Helps you prepare for tests with practice questions (including answers) on areas such as: missing words; word links; word swap; hidden sentences; sentence sequence; text comprehension; verbal logical reasoning.
  • The Numeracy Test Workbook by Mike Bryon - Includes real-life tests and offers to help speeding up basic numeracy skills, as well as practice questions based on number problems; number sequencing and data interpretation.
  • Professional Level Psychometric Tests by Sam Al-Jajjoka - Provides practice exercises that are relevant to those facing tests used in IT, management and finance recruitment. Contains 16 timed tests with over 500 questions (with answers supplied).

The following books are occupation specific.

  • How to Pass the Civil Service Qualifying Tests by Mike Byron - This book aims to help those who want to work in the UK Civil Service. The book is aimed at both administrative staff and Fast Stream applicants. It contains over 450 practice questions, over 100 tips and insights, 7 practice tests and answers to all the questions.
  • How to Pass the Firefighter Selection Process by Mike Byron - There are nearly 60,000 applications for the Fire Service each year, with 40 applicants per place. This book can help with the application form, written test, interview, team exercises and physical tests.
  • How to Pass the New Police Selection System by Harry Tolley - This book aims to help those applying to the police force in England and Wales. It contains information and assistance with the entry requirements and competencies, application form, the assessment centre, preparing for psychometric tests, sample numerical reasoning tests, sample verbal logical reasoning tests, role-play exercises, written exercises, interviews and the job-related fitness test.

Useful websites

  • Assessment Day - This website is run by a student who took several tests around the UK. It has both free and paid-for tests in both verbal and numerical reasoning. There is also a long list of interview questions for both formal and technical interviews, and a discussion forum.
  • BBC Science and Nature - The BBC’s website has a large range of personality tests which reflect (but are not the same as) lengthier tests taken at Assessment Centres. Two examples are a 10-minute test which divides personalities into 16 types, and a 15-minute test which is based on a five-factor model of classifying personality traits.
  • ETS.org - ETS is a non-profit organisation based in the USA that offers information on a large range of professional tests, including articles on fees, test content and Frequently Asked Questions. For some, they also provide a selection of sample questions. The organisation is also used by some American universities to develop personalised tests for their application processes.
  • Get Feedback - Get Feedback is an online recruitment agency who offer services to both employers – as an agency – and students, as a portal to see what employers are looking for. They have a lot of information on the 3 main types of psychometric testing, as well as articles on online aptitude tests.
  • GMAC - GMAC is the Graduate Management Admission Council. They produce the GMAT, a psychometric test aimed specifically at business students and for business schools. It is used in over 155 countries across the world. When schools sign up, they also become eligible to take part in and receive the results of the VSS survey, which compiles the results of the GMAT from across the world and helps schools place themselves in a comparative list with others.
  • Graduate Prospects - The Prospects website has a section on aptitude tests and psychometric testing which gives a list of links directing students to free tests, as well as explaining what they are designed to do.
  • IQ Test Labs - The IQ Test Lab offers a PhD certified IQ test, which tests your ability in 9 different areas. The test is free to take online, and you receive a comprehensive 25 page report with analysis about your results after completion. This includes statistics which compare your own results against others who have taken the test beforehand.
  • Job Test Prep - This website is packed with useful information on preparing for, and taking, psychometric tests. The site includes aptitude test preparation, personality test preparation, group exercise preparation and job interview preparation.
  • Kenexa - This company is based in the UK and offers 2 different types of test. The 2 categories are “specific job role” tests and “general purpose” tests. The specific tests are based on job analysis and are orientated around the needs of that job role; the general purpose tests are typically based on a theoretical model of personality or skills.
  • Monster - Monster is an international job vacancy database, and the website has an in-depth section on ability testing and career management tools. The ability section includes testing on verbal evaluation and interpreting numerical data, where the tests can be taken for free and feedback is given for free. The career management tools questionnaires offer a free mini report, with the opportunity to buy an in-depth report for £9.99.
  • Norton Assessment - Offer Numerical Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning Tests, these are completely free and provide exposure to commercial psychometric testing.
  • Practice Aptitude Tests - a large number of free tests that have been developed with chartered occupational psychologists.
  • Psychometric Tests - This site is aimed at providing job seekers with the practice material they need to pass psychometric job selection tests. It has over 100 pages of information on psychometric and aptitude tests, free downloadable practice tests and a free eBook which gives expert advice on how to approach aptitude tests.
  • Practice Tests - Free tests in aptitude tests.
  • PWC - Psychometric Tests and Interviews
  • SHL Direct - SHL Direct is a website aimed at the individual testing themselves at ability/aptitude tests and personality questionnaires, as well as providing the opportunity to collect feedback on your responses. It is split into 5 sections, one for students, and one on career guidance, plus help on the assessments, practice and feedback.
  • Skillsarena also offers a selection of free practice tests which students and graduates can take to test their skills on. 
  • Team Technology - Team Technology is a website that has a wide range of articles and resources on business, leadership and management, as well as information on the MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) personality test with an online questionnaire. They also offer an in-depth online version of the MMDI (Mental Muscle Diagram Indicator) personality questionnaire.
  • Testing Direct - This website has a registration fee currently of £12.50. It has 3 available tests made up of Personality, Motivation and Interests. They match your personality to appropriate job types, help you work on a Career Development Action Plan, and they aim to enhance job satisfaction and efficiency. The test is 15 minutes long, and there are 21 pages of comprehensive feedback available online, immediately after the test has been taken.
  • WikiJob - has an active forum, a jobs board for graduate schemes, lots of articles on interview questions and assessment centres and also provides practice psychometric tests. They offer a free numerical reasoning test and verbal reasoning test for you to try out.

Preparing for interviews

When you are invited for an interview, the good news is that they like what you have written in your application or CV and want to know more about you.

  • You will only have a short time to convince them that you really are the one they want.
  • Typically employers will only invite between 10% and 20% of applicants for an interview. These candidates are the best 10% to 20%, so the competition is greater
  • The key to a good interview performance is PREPARATION and then some more PREPARATION!
  • Careers and Employability also offers a mock interview service so you can practise - telephone askUS for details or Email.

Further help

e-books and videos

There is now a range of e-books available that will help you with your job-hunting, applications and interviews. Selected titles have been evaluated by Careers Advisers from Careers and Employability at the University of Salford to ensure that the material is relevant to your needs.

You can also view a suite of careers films which give an insight into assessment centres, the job application process and career planning.

Speak to a Careers Consultant

If you feel you need to speak to a Careers Consultant on a one-to-one basis regarding job applications or need advice on your CV, please book one of our current appointment options. A Careers Consultant will listen to your ideas, help you identify your strengths, weaknesses and skills and assist you in relating all of these things to the world of work. You can also book an appointment either via the askUSDesk or ring 0161  295 0023.

Appointments are available for current students and graduates of the University of Salford.