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Interview Prep Tips

Cover letter examples and format to get hired

“Attach a cover letter “

Just about to send off your job application and then you saw “Attach a cover letter (optional)” at the bottom of the page? What do you do? Skip it? It is optional… No! A well-written cover letter can be the difference between getting your foot in the door and being relegated to the “no” pile. 83% of recruiters agree! But how do you write a cover letter? How do you pick a cover letter format?

In this post, we tell you how to write a cover letter, provide cover letter templates, the cover letter format, and some cover letter examples to help you stand out. Once you get your cover letter nailed down, don’t forget to prepare for your one-way and in-person video interview with Voomer.

In this post we will discuss:

  • Why write a cover letter
  • Get the cover letter format right
  • Cover letter examples to download (Microsoft Word & Pages)

Why?

an unsure man considering sending a cover letter
Don’t overthink, start writing your cover letter now

Sending a cover letter is essential because it gives you another opportunity to explain to the employer why you are the best candidate for the job. Would you turn down the interview? If not write a cover letter. Again, if you want the job write a cover letter.

This first impression from a cover letter gives you the chance to elaborate on your skills and experience, and show who you are as a professional and what you prioritize. Similar to the one-page resume (also known as a one-page CV), a short, sweet, and to-the-point cover letter format shows you care about this application, value effective communication, and are considerate of the hiring manager’s time.

But how do you write a cover letter that will actually get you hired?

Format

You’ve decided you want to write a cover letter. Now what? The most important aspect is the cover letter format. How do you do it right? Use the KISS principle: Keep It Simple Stupid.

3 seconds after opening your email or letter the hiring manager will need to have read through your letter, so using a simple template, keeping the length short, and providing a warm welcome to your application is essential. The key parts of a cover letter are as follows:

  1. Introduction sentence
  2. Highlight the most relevant qualifications or experience
  3. Explain why you are the perfect fit
  4. Invite the hiring manager to review your application

As you write your letter or customize a template, remember the following points:

  • Keep it short and to the point The employer doesn’t want to read a novel, so get to the point and tell them why you’re the best candidate for the job.
  • Highlight your relevant experience and skills If you have experience or skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, make sure to mention them in your cover letter.
  • Personalize it A generic cover letter that could be sent to any employer is not going to make that great impression. Take the time to research the company and the specific job you’re applying for, and then tailor your cover letter to them.
  • Use strong language Avoid using weak or passive language in your cover letter. Instead, use strong verbs to describe your accomplishments and show off your confidence.
  • Proofread A cover letter filled with spelling mistakes or grammatical errors is not going to impress an employer. Take the time to proofread your cover letter before you send it off.
person writing a cover letter sent to a company
Be thoughtful and read through your cover letter after you finish it

Cover letter examples

OK, you know why to write a cover letter, but you can’t start writing. Don’t worry, these templates below can be copy-pasted or downloaded.

Remember if you are sending the cover letter in an email body instead of as an attachment, you remove the addresses at the top of the letters which are in the downloadable Microsoft Word and Pages templates.

Don’t forget to replace any text in [ ] brackets and to customize and change the wording until you are happy.

Cover letter example 1

Download for Microsoft Word or Pages

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to apply for [position] at [company]. I am a [degree/professional qualification] holder from [college/university] and I have [years] of experience in [industry].

With the skills and experience needed for this job, I am confident I can deliver and exceed the requirements. In my previous roles, I have [example of a time I used relevant experience / skills / competency]. I am dedicated and confident that I can be an asset to your company.

I am excited to have the opportunity to apply for this job and look forward to hearing from you shortly. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

Cover letter example 2

Download for Microsoft Word or Pages

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing to apply for [job title] at your company. Based on my research, I believe that my skills and experience would be a valuable addition to your team.

As a [current job] for [current company name], I handled a wide range of [relevant situations]. Alongside this, I developed strong [relevant example skills] that I believe would be beneficial in this role. I am also familiar with your company’s products and services and am confident that I can provide [important skill, competency, or requirement for the job].

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss the position with you further. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

Cover letter example 3

Download for Microsoft Word or Pages

To Whom It May Concern,

I am interested in being the [job title] at your company. Based on my research, I believe that my skills and work experience would be a great match.

Here is a quick summary of my qualifications:
– [relevant qualification, skill, experience, or competency]
– [relevant qualification, skill, experience, or competency]
– [relevant qualification, skill, experience, or competency]

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this with you. My resume is attached for your review. I can be reached at [phone number] or at [email address].

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
[name]

Cover letter example 4

Download for Microsoft Word or Pages

To Whom It May Concern,

I am writing in regards to the open [name of job] position at [company name]. Based on my research, I believe that my skills and experiences make me the perfect candidate for this role.

In particular, my background in [relevant industry], coupled with my experience working with [type of client or technology], has honed my ability to [relevant skill or competency]. I am confident that I could bring this same level of success to [company name] and help contribute to the firm’s continued growth.

Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

[name]

Cover letter example 5

Download for Microsoft Word or Pages

Hello [company name],

I am submitting my application for your open [name of job] position. After reading the job description and requirements, I am confident that I am the ideal candidate for this role.

As a recent graduate of a [enter name of program], I have the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in a [type of job] role. In addition, my previous experience working in [type of industry / job characteristic] has developed my ability to [relevant skill or competency].

I believe that I would be a valuable asset to your team, and I look forward to discussing my qualifications in further detail.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

Cover letter example 6

Download for Microsoft Word or Pages

Dear hiring manager,

I am writing in regards to the [job title] position at [company]. I am a highly experienced and successful [current position / expertise], with [length of time] working in the industry.

I have a proven track record of [examples of relevant skill or competency] and I am confident that I have the skills and qualifications that [company] is looking for in a [job title]. In addition to my extensive experience, I have a deep understanding of [relevant skill or competency].

I would love the opportunity to discuss my experience and qualifications further with you. Please do not hesitate to contact me to arrange a meeting. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[name]

Conclusion

hr reading a cover letter sent to the company
The first impression from reading your cover letter can get you hired

Hiring managers receive hundreds (or even thousands) of applications for a single job. A good cover letter format should be short, sweet, and to the point. Introducing you and your qualifications, the cover letter should be tailored to the specific job you’re applying for.

Now you’ve nailed your cover letter with the above examples, use Voomer to prepare for your one-way and in-person video interview.

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Interview Prep Tips

Why you weren’t hired

Bad interviews are not always your fault.

Getting your job application rejected is not always because of what you did or said.

Sometimes the interviewer (or interviewers) bungle the interview so badly, even the most qualified candidate will flunk out.

How do you identify an interview that is going South? How fix it in time, so that your application is still seriously considered?

After 20 years working as a hiring manager across several industries, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly of interviews. Let’s go through several train wrecks of an interview.

Later on, I highly recommend checking out Voomer. It is an AI-powered interview preparation system which you can try for free and get instant feedback on your answers. So on your next interview – you’ll be prepared!

Interviews rely on first impressions

About one third of interviewers decide whether a job applicant is fit for a job within the first 90 seconds of the interview.

Unfortunately for those interviewers, first impressions are not the best predictors of future job performance.

What is a good predictor of future job performance is how job applicants performed in the past. Unlike financial products, for people past performance definitively is indicative of future results!

So how do you hit it out of the park during those crucial first seconds? Research shows the following:

  • Make eye contact: Two thirds of interviewers say not making eye contact is a common mistake
  • Non-verbal confidence: When meeting new applicants, on average 55% of the first impression an interviewers gets comes from how the person walks through the door and acts during those first crucial seconds.
  • Appearance:  Two thirds of interviewers claim that clothes will be the deciding factor between two identical candidates. What this means is that you have to dress for the job. Find out what the dress code is for the company and industry you are applying to and adhere to that.

There is very little you can do here but “play the game” to check all of the subconscious boxes that the interview probably has in their mind.

Infographic with interviewer data
Interviewers usually make snap decisions

Interviews overwhelmingly rely on human judgement

You might think “wait, aren’t all interviews reliant on human judgement”?

Well yes and no.

Interviews are – by their very nature – conducted by humans that ask questions, listen to and interpret the answer. Then they’ll pass judgement on that answer. Unfortunately, relying solely on human judgment is only slightly better than flipping a coin.

If you are an interviewer and all you know about the applicant was discovered during the interview itself, the probability that the interviewer will choose the better qualified of two candidates is a frighteningly low 56%.

Avoid this by using structured interviews, where the same questions are asked to multiple candidates, allowing for a better comparison between them.

Unfortunately, you have little to no influence on how the interview will be conducted!

Therefore, if your interviewer is clearly playing things by ear and not following a pre-determined structure, take charge of the interview.

Proactively suggest the questions you want to answer. If the initial ice breaking session is taking too long, introduce yourself with a executive summary of your career or explain why you want to work at that organization.

Panel interviews aren’t any better

Many organizations claim to conduct better, fairer interviews by running panel interviews – where two or more people interview an applicant.

The theory is that multiple interviewers will listen to your answer, and therefore it more likely that the interviewers will agree on the “truth”, rather than just what they remember hearing.

However, the science says otherwise.

Adding as many interviewers as one might like does not make a better interview.

A paper published in the Journal of Business Research shows that adding two or more interviewers makes no difference when choosing the best qualified candidate for a job.

So what do you do when there are multiple interviewers at your interview?

The paper discusses how the most experienced interviewers tend to have better hit rates than less experienced interviews – who also tend to defer to the judgment of their seniors.

Therefore, focus your attention on the interviewer that appears to be the most senior, make most of your eye contact with that person and do everything you can so that your answers to their questions are outstanding.

Interviewers that rely on pseudoscience

“If you could be an animal, which would you be?”

“What is your favorite color?”

“Which football team do you cheer for?”

Questions like these are painfully common in job interviews.

Interviewers that ask them generally reply with pseudoscientific justifications when challenged on why they insist on using those questions in a job interview.

Those questions – and their answers – have no bearing on anyone’s ability to perform any job to any level of satisfaction.

Person frustrated at interview question
Being asked silly interview questions can be exhausting

Asking questions similar to the ones listed above are a dangerous and lazy crutch that un prepared interviewers will use in the place of well thought out, insightful, open ended questions.

Even asking the job applicants to answer personality type questionnaires is of dubious value . Including established tests like the MBTI questionnaire will return completely different results depending on when a job applicants answers them.

If your interviewer asks a similar question – quickly identify and challenge it. Mention that you aren’t sure how that question relates to your ability to perform the job and talk about something that is relevant to the job.

Interviews that use brain teasers

“How many ping pong balls fit in a bathtub?”

Closely related to the previous point about pseudoscience, interviewers that quiz job applicants on questions that resemble brain teasers are doing themselves and the applicant a disservice.

Questions like the example above also have no bearing on a job applicant’s performance.

Many interviewers still like to use questions like that to catch out applicants and make them uncomfortable.

If your interviewer tries something like that and they really want you to answer the question, just focus on the process.

There are no right answers, so go through how you’d answer the question. Use analogies and comparisons to things you know (for example, you think 30 ping pong balls will fit in a gallon, and you guess there are 100 gallons in a bathtub, so 3000 ping pong balls will fit in a bath tub).

Interviews that gather impressions rather than data

If your interview feels like a conversation, with little or no structure or clearly defined questions – you might be falling into a situation where the interviewer is mostly collecting impressions rather than data. That means you are in an unstructured interview.

Structured interviews, on the other hand, are where the interviewer asks all candidates the same questions. On top of that, they assess candidates using the same method and take contemporaneous notes. Structures interviews are up to twice as effective at predicting job performance than unstructured interviews.

So what should you do when faced with an interview that feels like an unstructured conversation?

When the interviewer begins wrapping up, proactively close with a short statement of why you would be great for the job. That places a clear and organized list into the interviewers mind – sneaking structure into the interview.

Interviews that don’t verify hard knowledge

Many jobs require hard skills to perform effectively and/or efficiently. Those can be skills such as programming, scientific knowledge, knowledge and certifications regarding business processes, etc.

If your interviewer does not test or ask about hard skills – be weary!

They are probably relying on their own impressions rather than hard data collected in the interview.

So if an interviewer does not ask questions about your hard skills, what do you do? And what do you do when these hard skills are a core part to performing the advertised role effectively?

When the interviewer is wrapping up, bring up the qualifications or certificates you have which would allow you to perform the advertised job.

That way, you inject a degree of structure and verifiability into the interview, setting you apart from the other applicants.

Getting ready for your next interview

Interviewers have many hidden biases despite all the training they might have received. These biases cause a disconnect between perception and reality. If you haven’t played your cards right, those biases will work against you.

So what should the job applicant that really wants to shine through do?

Practice, practice and more practice.

Next time you have an interview coming up, give Voomer a try and practice for your interview. Voomer is free to try and you’ll get instant AI-powered feedback on your answers.

Voomer has interview questions for thousands of different companies so you can practice on past and present questions.

Practice will help you project the best version of yourself and ensure you can land that dream job!

Categories
Interview Prep Tips

How to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Introduction on how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”

Job seekers frequently ask me how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses”. This classic job interview question is still very popular among recruiters, hiring managers and HR – so it is definitively worth taking a minute to prepare. This article will cover everything you need to know about how to answer “what are your strengths and weaknesses” so that you outshine the competition. After you are done reading, practice your answers at Voomer, so you can get free AI-powered interview prep and land that dream job.

Strengths – What your answer should communicate

The best answer to the first part of the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question should communicate one thing, and one thing only:

  • A competency of yours that aligns with the hiring organization’s values or competencies

Think of it this way – recruiters and hiring managers ultimately are trying to tick boxes during an interview. If you offer the information they are looking for on a silver platter, the chances of them ticking the necessary boxes and moving you onto the next stage of the job application process shoot up significantly. Search for the hiring organization’s values and competencies on their website and work those into your answer. Examples of values and competencies include:

  • Customer focus
  • Data analysis
  • Attention to detail
  • Integrity
  • Teamwork
  • And many more

Find the ones that matter most to the hiring organization and build your answer around them. Keep scrolling to view some example answers.

Weaknesses – What your answer should communicate

The best answer to the second part of the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question should communicate two things:

  • Your weaknesses are consequences of being great at something else
  • You are aware of your weaknesses and work to address them

If you cover those two items, your application will be stronger after you answer the “what is your weakness” question! In case you want to deliver an absolutely stellar answer, ensure you use the STAR method. That will keep your answer on track and make the interviewer’s life easier. Below are some example answers that will help illustrate the above points.

Example “what are your strengths and weaknesses?” answers

These example answers to “what are your strengths and weaknesses” are meant to inspire you and help you figure out a strong answer for you. Everyone’s career was built differently, so use the concepts shown below rather than copying something that doesn’t apply to you. A half-decent interviewer will quickly pick up on an answer that does not make sense.

Strength example 1: Innovation

“After visiting a trade show, I realized there were two technologies we used in our manufacturing processes but we could also adapt and combine them in a certain way to work with a department we always had productivity issues. The end result of using this technology in a new way was an increase in productivity of 30%!”

Strength example 2: Perseverance

“We needed to change our customer acquisition system to a more financially sustainable model. We started dabbling with YouTube videos but the first ones were terrible flops. However, we learned from the experience and made gradual improvements to our videos and today organic acquisition is how the business is powered.”

Strength example 3: Teamwork

“Different departments were only interested in their own departmental goals, not caring about the broader picture. I developed a program where once every two weeks people from non client facing departments would join the sales team on customer calls. It quickly became clear to many that we needed to have a stronger outward looking perspective on the business. We’ve adapted our processes as a consequence of that and today customers much happier.”

Weakness example 1: Not asking for help

“When I am given a task at work, my attitude is that is has to be done no matter what – and with the resources initially allocated. This means that sometimes if the task was harder or more complex that anticipated, I have a tough time asking for help and more resources. I’m working on this issue by giving myself a deadline to accomplish a task. If the task hasn’t been completed by that deadline, then I’ll ask a manager for help”. Why is this a strong answer: Despite the fact that the candidate reveals a weakness, that weakness also reveals very desirable attitudes – initiative, determination and grit. The candidate also makes it clear that this is an issue that they are working on and have already put systems in place to solve the issue.


Your question bank sample is on the way! You can practice live now at https://tryvoomer.com!
We’ve not been able to send you a Question Bank, but at Voomer you can start practicing with these questions now.

Weakness example 2: Impatience

“On occasion I don’t like the way a project is going and I get very impatient with our execution. This results in some tense meetings where I want to see results sooner rather than later. I’ve been working on this by recognizing that some strategies take time to bear fruit”. Why is this a strong answer: The candidate recognizes that impatience is a problem for them. However, they frame it in a way that demonstrates being extremely goal-orientated. That is a fantastic quality that any organization would love to have in all its employees.

Weakness example 3: I bit off more than I can chew

“I love taking on complex tasks that test the limits of my capabilities. Unfortunately that usually leaves me scrambling for more information or help from others so that we can deliver on time. I’ve been working on developing my capabilities BEFORE taking on challenging tasks!” Why is this a strong answer: The candidate revels a weakness but frames it in a way that demonstrates a massive amount of initiative. Interviewers love candidates with initiative since that skill is very hard to develop in people.

Next steps for you

Now that you know a couple of examples, it is time for you to try answering the “what are your strengths and weaknesses” question yourself with examples that pertain to you. Head over to Voomer where you can get AI-powered feedback on your answers and prep on questions for thousands of other organizations and land that dream job!