Dos and don’ts for job applications: tips for both candidates and recruiters

StepStone Coffee Talk


We asked a few seasoned experts for their ultimate tips for a successful job application. Besides sharing useful advice for candidates, they also highlighted the importance of good practices among recruiters.

4 job application tips for candidates

Tip 1: choose wisely

It all starts with your choice of job, says Stefaan Van Weverberghe, employer marketeer at Theme. “Go for a job that you will really enjoy doing, because a career lasts a long time. Make sure you feel comfortable in the working environment and the particular organisation as well. Can you identify with the company and its values?”

Tip 2: think ahead

“When you are preparing for the interview, think about the long term as well”, advises Johan Claes, employer branding & sourcing manager at the MIVB. “Try to figure out where you want your career to take you. This is a question that often comes up in interviews, but candidates have not always thought about it enough.”

Tip 3: see feedback as something constructive

Receiving criticism is always rather uncomfortable, but we can learn an enormous amount from constructive feedback. Johan Claes: “If certain aspects are less good, it is fine to have an open conversation about that. You can choose whether to look at things critically or constructively. I believe that we achieve more by opting for constructiveness, and that applies both to the person giving the feedback and the one receiving it.”

Tip 4: specific preparation

“One question that almost all recruiters ask comes from the ‘star method’”, says Jean-Marc Steenbeke, senior talent acquisition specialist. “As a candidate, you are expected to give specific examples from your earlier career and indicate how you dealt with them. Preparing well will stop your mind from going blank and you from losing credibility.”

Efficient recruitment: 4 tips for recruiters

Tip 1: meet in the middle

“We can actually look at a job interview as a sales talk”, says Johan Claes. “A candidate approaches us with a personality, skills and everything that can contribute to a company. The company has a vacancy, a working environment, opportunities and training. The two parties try to reach an agreement.”

Tip 2: the person is more important than the CV

Get rid of the idea that job hopping is a negative sign and look at the person in front of you. Today’s employees consciously plan their career paths. “Employers need to be aware that we are no longer living in a society where we leave school, find a company, and stay there for 40 years”, says Françoise Bekaert, Consultant Healthcare Expert at Consulting Arsanne. “Do you have a CV in front of you? Great, but focus your gaze and interest above all on the person sitting opposite you. They are far more important than the words on that piece of paper.”

Tip 3: the shorter the better

It is a shame to lose candidates because the recruitment process takes too long. So make sure your approach is efficient at every step of recruitment and respond quickly. “Keep the recruitment process as short as possible… and be aware that the process begins with the application form. If the form is too long or overly complicated, candidates will pull out”, Stefaan Van Weverberghe tells us.

Tip 4: listen and learn

“I always give this advice to recruiters working under contract,” says Jean-Marc Steenbeke: “Hold the interview with someone from the recruiting company. Listen to the questions they themselves ask the candidates to learn more about their needs.


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Want more recruitment tips from these experts? Discover our other Coffee Talks as well.