Securing a Job Interview – Steps on How to Successfully Get an Interview

Some of us have sent more than a hundred job applications and still did not get a single call to attend an interview. Why is this? We will be trying answer this question in short and then get down to providing you with a few steps that, when followed, are guaranteed to start getting your CV noticed by recruitment managers when you apply for those jobs.

Just a disclaimer: This article is not meant for those people who get jobs in unconventional ways, it is solely targeted at the typical jobseeker, who does not have an uncle working in the company they are applying to. Our target reader also does not have “contacts” who can organise him/her a job.

About two years ago, The Bursary Bin surveyed a few of our friends in HR departments within companies and government departments on a number of errors that make most people fail to get even an interview, but never managed to publish the results – sorry. And the most common reason for disqualification was… drum rolls pleasepeople do not follow instructions.

Getting called for an interview is your first step (after applying of course) towards getting that job; be it a learnership, internship or a job as a manager. So getting this step right will improve your chances of reaching that dream job. Below we list three (3) tips to help you get there:

  1. Read the advert for understanding and follow the instructions

This has to be our first tip, as mentioned earlier this was the most prominent reason most CVs ended up in the dustbin when we conducted our survey of 9 recruitment personnel two years ago. It still is. Make sure you understand instructions on how to apply, where to apply, and what documents are required when applying – and whether these should be certified or not.

And most importantly, make sure you apply for positions you qualify for. Do not be so desperate that you will apply for a position that requires a Bachelor of Admin when you only have a Bachelor of Science.  Make sure you submit in time for the closing date; and if you are using the post, please use “fast mail” and send a few days to a week before closing date.

2. Write a compelling cover letter / motivation letter

Do not apply the one size-fits-all approach when sending applications. Make sure your application letter is specific to the requirements of the position you are applying for. This does not mean you should lie, just emphasise your strengths, skills, education and experience (if you have any) in relation to each specific job’s requirements and specifications.

Remember, your cover letter should tell the recruitment officer why they should shortlist you for an interview. Make them see that you are a perfect match for the position in your cover letter. Rule of thumb: The cover letter should not exceed one page, unless the advert requests a longer letter.

3. Do not use a on-size-fits-all CV

A curriculum vitae (CV) is like your sales pitch to the recruitment officer, for the specific job they advertised. As such, reviewing your CV every time you apply will really help you stand a better chance of getting called for an interview.

For instance, you may have done a degree in Media Studies, having majored in Media Studies, Public Relations and Journalism. In addition to your qualification, you may have volunteered at a Home for the Aged, a campus newspaper, and a Public Relations Department of your local municipality. When your local newspaper advertises a Newsroom Intern’s position, it will help you better if you write your CV to show in prominence the facts that you majored in Journalism and have volunteered at a campus newspaper. Your experience cleaning toilets at the old age home and making copies at the local municipality would not help you to get this particular job.


  • Have a friend read your CV and cover letter to make sure there are no typos or grammar errors.
  • Also make sure all the supporting documents are attached.
  • Have reachable contact numbers (your main number and an alternative number) on your CV.
  • Send your application in time for the closing date.
  • Again, always follow instructions.

If you do all the above, that phone of yours will start ringing soon. Remember to keep your phone always “on” and check your emails regularly (preferably daily).

On Friday we will be publishing an article on writing a winning motivation letter / cover letter.

If you have any comments, feel free to add them below.

© The Bursary Bin

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