Get tips on writing a curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter, and preparing for the interview.

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Writing a curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter

A curriculum vitae (CV) is a written description of your career goals, skills, qualifications, and experience. Your CV should show us what you can bring to the job.

Be clear, focused and relevant

Stand out from the other applicants by being clear, focused, succinct and providing information relevant to the job. We want to know exactly why you would be great for the job.

Provide examples of your skills and experience

Get a copy of the role description, understand what capabilities are required, and provide relevant examples of where you have used your skills and experience.

Don’t just list your skills – we want to see how you used them!


Your CV is an employer’s first impression of you. Double check for errors then ask someone else to proof read it for you. Check the format and make sure your CV is well structured and professional.

Promote yourself

It can be hard but don’t be scared to write about what you do well. This is your chance to tell us why we should interview you. Make us want to know more.

What to include in your CV

  • Contact details – Your full name, address, phone number and email address.  
  • Key skills – List your work related skills and abilities that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Capability areas - Look at the required competencies in the role description, and where possible, provide evidence of how you have demonstrated these.
  • Relevant education and qualifications – Include the names of institutions you have attended and dates in reverse order; list qualifications and any study (or courses where relevant).
  • Work experience – List your most recent position first (including voluntary or community work) and work backwards in time. Give the name and location of your employer, your position title and the time you have spent in the position. Identify key responsibilities, experience, skills and achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Referees – These are optional. If you do not wish to provide these in your CV, bring the names with you to the interview or provide them when requested. We require three referees who can speak about your work and/or community involvement. At least one referee must be your most recent manager. Give their name, phone number, position, company they work for and relationship to you. Check that they are happy to be contacted.

Write a cover letter

Include a cover letter. Your cover letter should explain why you want the job and what you can offer the employer.

Highlight your skills, qualifications and experience relevant to the job.

Preparing for an interview

This guidance is aimed at those new to the job market or returning to work.

The interview is your chance to show your skills, experience, personal qualities and other strengths relevant to the job. It is also your chance to find out more about DOC and the role.

Do your research

Do some research about DOC and the role you are applying for. It will help you answer the interview questions, and show you are really interested in the job.

Talk to people who have worked (or still working) at DOC. Visit the DOC website and search for information online.

Be prepared to promote yourself

Think about the key requirements of the job, and match these with your skills and experience. You can do this by looking at the role description, particularly the competencies within the 'Capability areas'.

Review your cover letter and if if helps you bring notes to the interview. Keep your notes short and to the point. Let us know why you are the best choice for this role.

You can bring whanau support to an interview at DOC. A support person can help if you have difficulties describing your skills and achievements. Note: DOC does not cover any costs involved in bringing whanau support to an interview.

Think about the questions

DOC uses behavioural interviews. Behavioural questions are open questions and often begin with "Tell us about a time when...". Prepare for these questions by doing the following:

  1. Review your CV, cover letter and the role description.
  2. Look at the required competencies in the role description, and where possible, provide evidence of how you have demonstrated these. List examples of successes, challenges, situations with difficult people, and where you have shown leadership.
  3. Then use the STAR model (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to come up with some example answers.

There are many online resources to help you prepare for behavioural/STAR interviews.

As well as behavioural questions, you are likely to be asked traditional questions such as:

  • Where do you want to be in five years?
  • Why are you applying for this role?

Make sure you can explain any gaps in your work and study history

Think about your own questions

The interview is primarily for us to determine who is the best person for the job, but it is also a chance for you to find out if DOC is where you want to work. List one or two things you would like to know about the role or about DOC.

We usually do not discuss remuneration at the interview. This will be discussed if you are selected for the role.

Make a good first impression

  • Know where your interview is being held and plan how you will get there.
  • Have a backup plan in case something goes wrong, such as sick children.
  • Arrive early so you have time to relax before the interview starts.
  • Be yourself, relax, and listen carefully to questions.
  • Be friendly but professional and use appropriate language.
  • Wear tidy clothing.

Whānau and family support interviews - Te Tautoko a te Whānau

Download the Whānau and family support interviews factsheet (PDF, 232K)

What does it mean for me when I apply for a job with DOC?

Whānau (or family) support is when your whānau (including kaumatua), or other support people (someone who you feel secure with and who knows you well) support you by attending the recruitment interview with you.

Whānau support can provide a valuable insight into your skills and experiences. Whanau are not afraid to talk of your achievements, which you might have difficulty doing.

What are the benefits of a whānau interview for the whānau?

You have the best possible opportunity to display your competence, skills and experience with support from your whānau. You and your whänau are assured that you have been treated in a manner which is inclusive, safe and respectful of your cultural values.

What are the benefits of a whānau interview to DOC?

  • DOC can better assess the best person for a position, because the whänau or support people can provide a more in-depth picture of the competence, skills and experiences that you will bring to a position
  • If you are employed you bring an established support system, which will mean you are better equipped to deal with a wide range of situations. You may also bring a network of other potential applicants for positions and enhanced community based support.
  • If you are unsuccessful, DOC has provided you with the best possible opportunity to display your competence, skills and experience.

Who can use whānau interviews?

Anyone applying for employment with DOC. They are useful where an applicant's personal or cultural values could possibly limit the information provided at a formal interview.

What is the process?

When you are notified that you have been chosen for interview let the panel chairperson know that you would like to bring whānau or support people.

You should talk about the welcoming process, the format of the interview, the role of whānau or support people, how many people are likely to come to the interview and if the whānau want to conduct their part of the process in Te Reo Māori or your nominated language. This will allow the panel chairperson to prepare for the interview appropriately.

Applicants and whānau or support people may speak in either English or Māori or your nominated language with translation.

Steps of the whānau support interview

  1. The applicant and whānau are welcomed with a mihi and/or karakia as agreed and will have the opportunity to respond.
  2. The whānau or support people will be invited to speak about the applicant outlining the person's qualities and suitability for the position. This will happen either at the beginning or the end of the interview.
  3. The panel will interview the applicant using the same questions as for the other applicants. At the end the applicant and whänau or support people will have an opportunity to ask questions and/or add further comments about the suitability of the applicant for the position.
  4. The chairperson of the panel will indicate when the interview is complete. The whānau or support people will be thanked for attending and will have the opportunity to respond.
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