Hints and tips

A quick guide to making a great impression

Before you apply

Even before you start applying for a job with us, you can begin to make a great impression. We’ll be looking for a sign that you’re just what we’re looking for, right from the start. It’s always a good idea to do some research first. Find out as much as you can about Unum, our industry and the role you’re applying for. The more you know about the role and Unum, the better prepared you’ll be, right through the application process. It’ll also give you an idea of whether we’re the kind of business you'd want to join.

There are plenty of places you can find the information you need. Our corporate website’s a good place to start, www.unum.co.uk.

You could also get hold of our company accounts and financial reports or look at the media to see what they’re saying about us and our industry. Or, if you know anyone who works for Unum, or a similar company, why not have a chat with them about the kind of work we do?

The important thing is to give yourself plenty of time to do your research, keep up-to-date and then to use this knowledge during the application process.

The application process

Your first step will be to apply with an application form, a CV, or a combination of both. After that, we might ask you to come for an interview, take an online test or take part in an assessment centre. Here are a few tips on how to make the most of them.

Creating your CV

Getting your CV right and keeping it up-to-date is important because it’s usually our first impression of what you’ve got to offer. We’ll also keep it on our files in case we identify another job that might be right for you, so make sure it includes your contact details.

Try to keep it short. Our preference is no more than two A4 pages. Give us an overview of your skills, achievements and what you’re looking for from a career.

Tell us about your work experience. Starting with your most recent job and working back and including your employers’ name, the dates you worked there, job title and responsibilities. Be sure to give us examples of your competencies, skills and achievements each time - particularly if they relate to the job you’re applying for.

Give us your education details. Include the name of your university, college or school, your qualifications and grades. Don’t forget to include any work-related courses. Again, start with the most recent and work backwards.

Additional information. Finish with any hobbies or interests that might relate to the job you’ve applied for. Remember to include any personal achievements you're proud of either professionally or personally.

Completing the application form

For some jobs, we might ask you to fill out an online application form, along with sending us your CV, or instead of it.

Just like your CV, the application form is your first big chance to impress us by selling your skills, your experience and your enthusiasm for working with us. So, it’s a good idea to take some time before you fill it. Read it through carefully, decide what information you’re going to need for each section and get it all together before you start. This might include details of your education or job history, including any work experience placements you’ve had.

Preparing for interview

If we’ve offered you an interview, the best approach is to give yourself plenty of time to prepare for it. Take a look at the job description and think about the kind of things we might want to know in the interview. For example, what competencies and skills does it list? Think of real-life examples when you’ve shown these before - either at work, or in your everyday life.

To get all the right information across in the interview, it’s useful to follow a structure. The S.T.A.R. technique (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a good approach:

Situation. Give us a short overview of the situation you had to deal with.

Task. What did you need to do - either on your own or in a team?

Action. This is the most important part. We want to know how you approached it, what skills you used, who you needed to work with and why you decided on that approach.

Result. What happened, what did you learn and how would you improve it?

This S.T.A.R. technique should really help you shine in the interview.

Performing well at interview

If you’re one of those people who is nervous about interviews, you’re not alone. There are a few things you can try to settle your nerves.

If we invite you for a face-to-face interview, you should aim to get there in plenty of time. If you’re delayed, try to call to let us know. It’s always a good idea to have a print-out of your invitation, too - just in case you can’t get the details on your phone. If you’re not sure what to wear, it’s safest to go for professional and smart attire.

Once you’re in the interview, introduce yourself and offer a confident handshake. Sit up straight and try to breathe normally, as this will help you relax. When you’re answering questions, try to smile and look your interviewer in the eye.

For a video interview, you should take the same professional approach. So, try to find a quiet, well-lit place where there are no distractions. This will help your interviewer to concentrate on your answers, rather than what’s going on in the background.

Online tests

We use online tests to check a variety of skills. For example, most of our jobs involve working with numbers, so you’ll be asked to take an online numerical reasoning test. We also have verbal reasoning and inductive reasoning (sometimes called logical reasoning) tests. If you’ve never done an online test before, don’t worry. There are plenty of practice tests online - you can find some at www.shldirect.com.

The ability tests are timed, so you need to work quickly and accurately. Read each question carefully and make sure you understand what we’re asking for before you answer. Think about what you’d do in a typical work situation - or, if you’re new to the world of work, in another area of your life. If it’s your second time taking the tests, read your feedback report first, so you know which areas you need to improve.

For some of our jobs, you’ll need to complete a work style preference questionnaire (OPQ). This isn’t about your knowledge, skills or abilities, but how you like to do things. It’s not timed, but still try to answer quickly, because we’re looking for a natural answer that reflects you.

If you have a condition that requires reasonable adjustments to the selection process (including testing) please let the Recruitment Team at Unum know before the assessment.

Shining at an assessment centre

We design our assessment centres to give you the best chance to show us your strengths, while finding out more about what it’s like to work at Unum. It usually involves a combination of a number of activities, these could include a group exercise, an individual exercise, a written exercise or presentation or a standard face-to-face interview.

The only things you’ll need to bring with you to your assessment centre are your personal essentials, such as reading glasses and any medication. We’ll supply paper and pens, as well as a calculator - although you’re welcome to bring your own, if you prefer.

You won’t be on your own - there will be many other people in the same assessment day. Just remember, you’re not competing with them. We’ll be looking at you all as individuals - and there may well be more than one role available. The most important thing is to show us what you’ve got to offer by performing at your very best.

Written, individual and group exercises

If you’re involved in a group exercise, we’re looking at how well you work in a team. You’ll need to work as a team to come up with solutions based on an information pack we give you. It’s about how well you communicate with other people, manage the task as a team and deal with changing priorities.

In an individual exercise, we’ll be looking for the same skills as in the group exercise. The only difference is that, instead of working with other candidates, you’ll be interacting with an assessor.

In a written exercise, we’ll ask you to write a report based on some briefing materials we give you. You’ll usually have between 30 and 45 minutes. It’s about your ability to create an informative written report. So, we’ll be looking for structure, clear language and logical presentation of the facts.

A few do's and don'ts

Do ...


  • Give yourself enough time to prepare for every stage
  • Research Unum and the job you're applying for
  • Read or listen to instructions carefully at every stage
  • Proofread everything you write and check grammar and spelling
  • Always be as clear and concise as you can
  • Sell your skills, experience and values and how they make you right for the job
  • Be ready to ask us questions - it’s about us both being right for each other
  • Be honest and truthful every time

Don't ...


  • Be late. It's not just bad manners it gives us an idea of how you are as a person
  • Just repeat things you've read in our brochures or on our website
  • Be vague or lie about your results - we will check them
  • Be modest about your achievements - it's your time to shine
  • Talk about things that aren’t relevant to your abilities, the job or Unum
  • Waste time going off on a tangent
  • Use jargon or acronyms related to your previous jobs
  • Swear or bad mouth people you’ve worked with in the past

For more information

If you’re not sure about anything to do with our application process, either before you apply or during the process itself, please get in touch with us.

Telephone: 01306 887766 (Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm)

Email: careersuk@unum.co.uk

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