Job Seeker Online Course

Before You Begin

To find a job, you need a well-conceived STRATEGY.

Every strategy starts with RESEARCH. It is vital that you know what job you are seeking in a New Zealand context, what the rules and norms are in the industry and devise a suitable ACTION PLAN.

In this section you will discover what you need to prepare to find a job in New Zealand.

This includes the right attitude, the right official documents and accurate information about the working environment. You will also need to be very clear about what your skills are and what you have to offer an employer.


Before you begin your NZ job search, it is important to prepare. What can you do?

Those New Kiwis that gain employment the fastest are those who take responsibility for their own job search, and put in the most preparation. Information is essential for a positive and informed start to your Job Search!

The Right Attitude

Be positive – the right job is out there for you but along the way, there will be job applications that never get answered, rejection letters and interviews that don’t go well.

So how do you stay positive when the process is so painful?

  • Be optimistic – an employer is searching for you right now.
  • Expect some disappointments and believe that employer decisions are not personal.
  • Find a mentor or friend who can motivate you when you are feeling down.
  • Arrange fun activities and take time out from your job searching.
Patience and perseverance
  • Finding the right job might take some time. Job searching requires these two elements – patience and perseverance.

“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” - John Quincy Adams

  • You will have to go out and find that great job – it is not likely to come looking for you. This takes courage because you will be talking to strangers and probably in a second language.
  • Employers are attracted to people who are proactive, outgoing and positive.
  • Don’t listen to negative stories – make friends with new and old Kiwis who are successful and working in great jobs. These people will be your role models and will give you sound advice.
Looking for work is a job
  • Looking for work is not something that can be done in your spare time. You need to spend at least a few hours each day looking for jobs, visiting and phoning businesses, writing your job applications, answering calls from possible employers, updating your job log and preparing for interviews.
  • Spending hours looking for a job can feel like a waste of time but try to remember that you are also learning about New Zealand, improving your English and gaining experience in dealing with the people and the culture.

Careers NZ : How to find a job in NZ – Top tips

True or False: One day per week should be spent not job searching, but sight seeing, exercising, seeing friends and family.

You have 5 days in a working week to job search and 2 days on the weekend. Commit yourself to 5 days of various job search activities, and ensure you take one day off to re-charge your batteries and get to know your community. Indirectly, you will also be building up your own support network and resources by getting out and meeting other New Zealanders in your community.

  • Everyone working in New Zealand is expected to pay tax to the Inland Revenue Department (IRD).
  • Depending on how much you earn this can be 19% - 39% of your earnings.
  • Before you can work legally, you need an IRD number, so organise one of these before you look for a job.
  • For more information on applying for an IRD number, visit
  • Companies that employ illegal immigrants or people who are not permitted to work, can face serious charges and fines.
  • Employers will ideally want to see proof of a work permit or permanent residency papers to make it easier for them to offer you a job – remember, they are looking for someone to start as soon as possible. So where you are eligible and meet the Immigration NZ requirements, you should apply for and ideally get your visa / work permit / permanent residency sorted as soon as possible to remove this barrier for the employer.
  • Most job advertisements will specify that applicants must be eligible to work in New Zealand.
  • Visit the New Zealand Immigration Service at to find out about New Zealand’s criteria for entry.
  • Wages and salaries will be paid directly into your bank account, usually fortnightly or monthly.
  • You will need to have a bank account with a New Zealand bank.
Ali and Zenat apply for the same job as production supervisor. They have the same training but Ali has a little more on-the-job experience. The company decides to offer the job to Ali but then they find out he has no IRD number and no work permit. Rather than wait for Ali to arrange these things, the company decides to hire Zenat instead.
New Zealand Business Environment

There are around 500,000 businesses in New Zealand 97% of them employ less than 20 people.
You are very likely to work in New Zealand for a small business in a small team.


The structure of New Zealand companies is typically flat and not hierarchical which means there are not a lot of layers of management and everyone is respected and valued. This has two major effects for you as a job seeker:

  • You will need to show employers you are comfortable relating to co-workers as a peer group (as equals) and not just that you can give orders or follow orders.
  • Managers refer to their “team” or “staff”, never as “workers” or “subordinates”.
  • Employees and managers refer to each other by their first name.
  • Some jobs may seem to be junior to your experience, but because of a flat company structure the job could still give you room to use your skills and be involved in company decisions.
  • Learn as much as you can about your new job role and company before you start because employers are looking for people who can do the job, right from the first day!
  • Once you start, pay attention, ask questions and then try to do the job for yourself – your new company will realise everyone takes a while to get used to a new job so do not panic if you forget how to do something.
  • Also check if you do not understand instructions, to avoid making mistakes.
  • New Zealand employees are multi-skilled rather than specialists.
  • You may be expected to do a large variety of tasks and take responsibility for many areas.

New Zealand prides itself on giving men and women equal opportunities and respect in the workplace:

  • It is very likely some of your job interviews will be with women who will be your manager or co-worker if you are given the job. You should expect this and your attitude should show that this is not a problem for you.
  • Signs of disrespect or harassment towards women in the workplace based on their gender are treated very seriously in New Zealand and can result in a person losing their job.

There are several key cultural differences between New Zealand and some other cultures:

  • Direct eye contact that is maintained is seen as a sign of confidence and employers will look for this in prospective employees.
  • Employers will also look for confident body language – so when meeting employers you should stand tall, with your shoulders back and your chin and head level, not bowed.
  • Do not speak too softly.
  • New Zealand has larger “personal space” boundaries than some Eastern cultures. When you are greeting, standing or sitting next to someone, there should be room for another person between you and them.
  • New Zealand workplaces are very social, so be prepared to talk about your personal life and be interested in others.

Your employer comes to you with a problem. The receptionist has gone home ill with the stomach flu and you have been asked to cover the front desk for the next 2 hours. You are the staff accountant.

you would respond:

Demonstrating your willingness to help and ability to be flexible. This will earn the respect of your employer and team.
Employer’s Perspective
  • Employers need people who can do the job, often from the first day.
  • They value work experience over qualifications.
  • Job seekers must convince employers they have done that job before and can perform the tasks with limited training.
  • Small businesses do not have the time or resources to do a lot of training for new staff.
  • Employers are looking for committed staff, who are prepared to put in time and effort to make sure their job is done well.
  • Committed staff are happy to be at work, they focus on helping the business succeed and they volunteer to take on extra responsibilities.
  • Replacing staff is time consuming and expensive for any business. Employers are looking for people who will stay a minimum of 2 years.
  • Employers are also looking for problem solvers who have a “can-do attitude”. This means you will always try to figure out a way to get your work done, and won’t rely on others to solve your problems or do things for you.
  • Being reliable and loyal means that your employer can count on you to arrive on time and to get your work done.
  • Employers want to hire friendly people who will get along with their customers and other staff.
  • Even if your English is not perfect, you need to be prepared to talk to people and to answer any questions that people ask.
  • Only one language is spoken in most New Zealand businesses – English.
  • Employers need all employees to be able to speak accurately and confidently to their customers.
  • If your English is not fluent, you need to work on making it better. The best way to improve your English is to use it – ask your family to help by practicing at home, in shops and with any friends that can speak it.
  • Confidence can make up for some lack of English skills. In an interview situation, do not rush, listen carefully, speak clearly and slowly, keep your head up and smile.

There are very few jobs in New Zealand that do not use computers and it is expected that most employees will have basic computer skills:

  • Microsoft is used in the majority of New Zealand businesses.
  • You will be expected to have a good understanding of Microsoft Windows, Word and/or Excel.
  • A fast typing speed is not required or assessed for most positions.
  • Email is a standard communication tool and most employers will expect you to be familiar with Microsoft Outlook.
  • Many job advertisements will ask you to submit a CV via email. Having an email account is useful for the job search process. You can set up free accounts through sites like or
  • Use of the Internet is also common in New Zealand. A basic ability to find information through search engines like, and data sites like is useful and will also help you to research New Zealand and look for jobs.

Careers NZ : What employers want – Skill employers are looking for

You arrive in New Zealand feeling confident and well prepared to get a job. After attending a skills assessment at a large recruitment agency you are told there are concerns about your English.

What do you do?

Getting feedback about your English can be a wonderful resource. Although you may want to take It personally, you must instead use this information to improve. If you choose to ignore the advice, you will not improve and therefore you may be drastically lowering your chances at employment.

Do NOT badmouth the recruitment company; it is unprofessional and negative and will not bring you closer to getting a job.

Employers Are Risk Adverse

New Zealand has strict employment laws and it is very difficult to terminate staff. Employers are therefore extremely careful when selecting a new employee.

As a New Kiwi, you face some barriers to employment and you need to deal with these during the job search process.

  • You need to demonstrate your ability in spoken and written English.
  • Have your CV and cover letter checked by a native English speaker, to make sure they have correct spelling and grammar.
  • Practice your English regularly and then use it in the interview process with full sentences and clear answers, not “yes” or “no” answers.
  • If your English is poor, you will need to improve your skills and should consider attending training.
  • You need to demonstrate to employers that you can get along with other employees.
  • You may feel shy but it is important that you still smile and make conversation with other people. Shyness can be confused with unfriendliness and that is a barrier to you getting a job.
  • Before you go to a job interview think of three topics you could talk about if you had to have a casual conversation with the employer or another employee – the weather, the result of a recent national sports game or a big news story from the newspaper that day.
  • You need to show the employer you are committed to New Zealand and that you are not likely to leave the country or the job after a short period.
  • In the interview, if your employer asks about this you should explain why you have chosen to make New Zealand your home and detail any other signs of your commitment, for example if you have brought your family, if you have bought a home or if you have gained permanent residency.
  • You should also explain what it is you like about the job and the company you have applied for, and why you can see yourself staying in the role.
  • This information should only be shared in the interview stage and not in your CV and cover letter.
  • Don’t apply for jobs that you are clearly overqualified for; it wastes your time and theirs.
  • Employers must believe you are committed to the job they are offering and that you are not just taking the position until something better comes along.
  • So the employer knows you are serious about their job, tell them why you like their job and what you think you can learn in the job.
  • Explain why your skills are a good fit with their company and how they can help the company.
  • Never tell an employer that you want this job because you cannot get a more senior position and that you are using their job as a starting point. Employers do not want to feel that you are using them.


Ali and Zenat both apply for a job as an Accountant and they are equally capable of doing the job.

  1. Ali’s CV lists the skills and tasks he has done in his previous jobs, that match what the employer is seeking.
  2. Zenat’s CV says she was the Senior Accountant of the largest oil company in her country and managed a staff of 30 people.

The employer chooses to interview Ali because he demonstrated that he could do the job. The employer believed Zenat was too senior for the role and had staff performing the functions.

Know Your Industry

Before approaching anyone for a job or submitting a CV, you should learn about the industry that you want to work in and what job opportunities are available in New Zealand.

  • how big your preferred industry is in New Zealand
  • who the main businesses are in the industry
  • what growth is predicted in your industry
  • where the bulk of the industry is based (location)
  • what skills are required to work in your industry in New Zealand?
  • Study many Job Vacancies that are applicable to you. (How to identify Transferable Skills is covered in the next section)
  • Visit and carry out a search on your preferred industry or job role.
  • Ask your friends and contacts in New Zealand
  • Speak to the industry group that relates to your preferred industry - ask them whether they can provide you with any information about the New Zealand industry and who else you should talk with to find out more.
  • Call Universities and learning institutes who may also be able to give you information about your chosen career in New Zealand.
  • Find networking opportunities where you can learn about your industry – local community newspapers are an excellent source of information about expos, seminars and free events which may be relevant to your chosen industry. Business organisations like the Chamber of Commerce also regularly host industry events with networking opportunities

Careers NZ : Informational Interview – How to succeed

Having a degree is not enough to get a job, for migrants or for locals. You must be able to demonstrate to employers that you understand New Zealand business. It is too late to begin your research when you need a job. Start in advance or risk looking unprepared in the eyes of an employer.

Having a degree is not enough to get a job, for migrants or for locals. You must be able to demonstrate to employers that you understand New Zealand business. It is too late to begin your research when you need a job. Start in advance or risk looking unprepared in the eyes of an employer.
Transferable Skills

Once you have completed your research about the industry you need to identify those skills you have that are valued by the New Zealand employer.

  • Carefully study 10 Job Vacancies and underline the skills, attributes, experience and qualifications that are asked for in the ads.
  • Create a list of the skills the industry is seeking and then write a list of the skills you have that match.
  • If you do have all the skills make sure they are clearly listed on the front page of your CV.
  • If you do not have all the skills you need, use the same research methods listed above to find out where you can get the skills or whether there is a more junior position you can take to gain entry to your preferred industry in New Zealand.


Ali and Zenat both apply for a position as a Human Resource Manager and have similar experience in the roles in their country.

  1. Ali’s CV lists his skills and experience.
  2. Zenat undertook study in New Zealand Employment Law and states this in her cover letter and CV – along with her existing experience.

The employer invites Zenat for an interview because she is familiar with New Zealand employment law and that is an essential skill required in the job. Ali’s application is rejected.

Building A Selling Cv

Your CV is your first introduction to employers, so it needs to make a great impression.

Your CV should show an employer that you have the skills for their job, it should detail relevant experience and qualifications, and it should explain your personal strengths.

It should also be laid out in a clear format and it must be free of mistakes.

  • Personal data – your name, address, contact phone number and email.
  • Other data – you may also choose to include your residency status, driver’s license, but these are optional.
  • Career objective – this is a statement about what you want to achieve through your work. This paragraph needs to be short and specific. You should include your career field and goals.
  • Personal attributes – these are your personal traits and strengths that honestly describe you. Limit yourself to six broad traits and back them up with a short sentence that shows that quality. Your personal attributes will go towards helping your employer decide on your fit with their company – so be aware of what the employer is looking for and check that your attributes match what they want.
  • Specific skills – these are your vocational and transferable skills. Transferable skills include: skills working with people, skills working with objects, skills working with information.
  • Work history – list your most recent job first and work backwards. Write the title of the position you held, who it was with and put the date on the right hand side of the page. List the responsibilities of the role and the achievements you realised in the position – focus on the responsibilities and achievements that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  • Qualifications, education and training – list your highest qualification first, include the institute you graduated from and the year you graduated. Put any additional training and courses under a separate heading.
  • Verbal referees – you should have verbal referees available on request. A referee is someone that can talk about your skills and abilities and your qualities as an employee – this is often a former employer and preferably should be in New Zealand. Before listing anyone as a referee, you must check they are happy to do this for you.
  • Marital status
  • Gender
  • Age/ Date of Birth
  • Dependents (whether or not you have children)
  • IRD number
  • Salary

A good CV will “sell” your strengths to an employer, and should include:

Do not include employers name and details unless that person has agreed to be a reference for you. Do not included details about your family – the employer needs to know if they want to interview you for the job; let them make the decision based on your skills, not your personal life.
Writing A Cover Letter

A cover letter should always be sent with your CV for formal job applications.

It should only be a few paragraphs long and should tell the employer why you are the right person for the job, briefly outline your most relevant skills and it may explain why you want to work for their company. It is your opportunity to let the employer know why they should pick you.

In your cover letter:

  • Start the letter with your strongest selling point.
  • Talk about the skills and experience you have that match what the employer is looking for in their job candidate. Don’t waste space in your cover letter talking about your experience as a Civil Engineer if you are going for a position as an Accounts Payable Clerk
  • Get straight to the point. The person looking at your application will probably be very busy so they need to know what you have to offer right away. Start your letter with: “I have 8 years experience as an engineer…”. Do not start your letter with: “I am applying for this position because…”
  • Do not oversell yourself – make sure the letter truthfully represents your skills and experience.
  • Keep it brief. Your letter should only be a 3 paragraphs and must not be longer than one page.
  • Keep sentences and paragraphs short and simple.
  • Always use a computer. Anything else will look unprofessional and will reduce your chances of getting an interview.
  • Check your letter for mistakes. Then have someone else check it. Then use the computer to check the spelling. Then check it again. A mistake in a cover letter sends a bad message to the employer about your skills and your attitude.
  • Make sure you address the letter correctly if it is being sent and if you have the name of the person you are sending the letter to make sure you use it. Do not address the letter to Dear Sir/Madam if you know their name.
  • Finish the letter positively and with a request to introduce yourself in person. “I believe I can make a valuable contribution to your company and would like the opportunity to meet with you in person. I look forward to hearing from you.”
  • Do not create one cover letter to use for every job you apply for. If you are serious about getting an interview you should take the time to write a cover letter for each new job you apply for. Personalising your cover letters shows you are truly interested in the job being offered. The Internet is a great tool to use when you are writing cover letters because you can find out facts about the company or industry you are applying for and include it in the letter.
  • You will be expected to send your cover letter and CV by email for some jobs. So be prepared to attach your cover letter and your CV to an email. Pay attention to whether the employer wants the cover letter in the body (the main part) of the email or as an attachment.

You are looking for a job to support your family, preferably in management. After 2 months of unsuccessful applications, you decide you must now take any job, as things are getting desperate financially.

You start to send your general management Cover Letter and CV out to apply for jobs as a shop assistant, but you are not getting any interviews. Why not?

Regardless of the role you are applying for, you must tailor your CV to each individual application and company to demonstrate you are committed to working for that company in that specific role. Otherwise, the employer will assume you are using this role as a “stepping stone” to something better.
Job Searching
  • Have you conducted extensive research on your industry and occupation in New Zealand?
  • Do you know what employers are looking for and do you believe you have those skills?
  • Have you undertaken training to fill and skill gaps that you may have?
  • Have you prepared a great looking CV and Cover Letter?
  • Now you are ready to start searching for job

This section of our website tells you where to look for job vacancies and outlines networking opportunities – a very common method for finding jobs in New Zealand.

It also looks at the basic guidelines for applying for jobs, talking to employers and how to prepare for job interviews.

  • Be open to job opportunities.
  • Look at a number of different areas and locations, remember New Zealand companies are generally small so try not to limit yourself to big corporate employers.
  • Do not dismiss jobs that are not labeled as full-time – contract positions can be for 12 months or longer and smaller contracts and part-time positions can lead to bigger roles and opportunities.
  • If you get a rejection letter, remind yourself that job was not the right one for you.
  • If the letter has any information about why you were not chosen or about a gap in your skills, use the information to prepare for your next job application.
  • If you got to the interview stage and did not receive any feedback about why you were not chosen, go back to the employer and ask if they can give you any advice to help your job search.
Your Job Search Strategy

Where you look for a job will depend on what kind of job you are looking for, and in what industry.

80% of jobs are not advertised in any conventional fashion. Newspaper advertisements and online job sites are only two of many places to look for jobs.

Think about where jobs in your industry are advertised and who you should contact.

  • Contact your industry body.
  • Some industries also have their own job sites. Use a search engine like to look for specific job sites.
  • Some of the bigger employers advertise jobs on their own company website, so find out who the major companies and organisations are in your industry and check their websites frequently for updates.

Online jobs ads

  • Online sites allow you to search by industry, position, location and whether or not you want a full-time or part-time position.
  • Many of the sites make the application process very simple as well, allowing you to store a CV online and send it straight to an employer when you find a job you are interested in – be aware that this means you are not adapting your CV to suit the positions you apply for.
  • Sites like also let you set up “job alerts” which tell you when a job in your industry/profession is being advertised.

Newspaper job ads

  • The New Zealand Herald (nationwide) lists job vacancies every day, and has particularly strong offerings on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays in the Careers or Workplace section.
  • Regional newspapers such as the Otago Daily Times.
  • Community/local newspapers, these papers are often free and delivered in the post. This is a particularly good option for job seekers looking for small, local positions.

Notice boards

  • Look out for notices in shop windows, and notice boards outside supermarkets and community centres and inside universities and tertiary institutes.
  • The advantage for the job seeker is that these positions often attract fewer applicants and have a more immediate start date.
  • This is only suitable for job seekers looking for more junior roles.

Farrah is a 20 year old migrant looking to start her first job in administration. The best place for her to look is:

A job will not come and find you! You must search and put in the effort. For a first time junior level job, you should start by looking at Notice Boards and in community newspapers. Don’t limit yourself to only looking on-line as these sites have very high application rates and therefore increase the number of competitors.

Industry expos are a great place to meet possible employers. Go prepared:

  • Dress professionally.
  • Express your interest in the industry and ask for information about the local industry.
  • If there is an opportunity, ask them where you should look and who you should contact to find a job in their industry.
  • If an employer offers to have a look at your CV, make sure you write down their details and send it to him or her immediately with a brief note reminding them who you are and what you are looking for.

Call employers in your industry.

  • Introduce yourself and ask for a few minutes of their time to discuss the New Zealand job market.
  • Choose a good time for these phone calls – Mondays and mornings are generally very busy, so try later in the week in the early afternoon.
  • When an employer agrees to meet you, use the time to find out about the local industry and what kind of skills required.
  • Be professional – do not ask for a job or complain about the local job market.

Other contacts

  • Contacting people in your industry is a great way to network but don’t forget about your own contacts.
  • List everyone you know in New Zealand and tell them you are looking for a job. Tell them what you are looking for and ask them if they know anyone you can contact about work like this.
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Tutors
  • Neighbours
  • Parents of your children’s friends.
  • Bank managers
  • Religious associates
  • Sporting contacts

If you are given a name to contact, prepare what you are going to say before you ring and/or meet the person, and be confident. When you talk to them, use phrases like:

  • I believe you may be able to help me
  • I am in job-search mode
  • I would appreciate if you would look at my CV and make referrals
  • Can you suggest anyone I should talk to or where I should look for a position

When you use personal networks, be careful not to abuse relationships by demanding a job or by taking up too much time.


Ali and Zenat each decide to attend a local IT conference. Both are well presented and make a good impression to the IBM representative, Bob. After a quick discussion with each candidate, Bob gives each applicant his business card.

  1. Ali calls Bob the same day as the Expo, and begins asking numerous detailed questions about the New Zealand IT industry. He tells Bob he needs a job and e-mails Bob 2-3 times per day with his CV.
  2. Zenat waits for Bob to settle back into work following the Expo. She emails Bob a brief introduction, which reminds him of her, and asks for a good time to call him for a 5 minute informational interview. Zenat leaves her contact details in her e-mails.

Bob deletes Ali’s emails and stops taking his phone calls, remembering his poor timing and desperate approach.

Bob remembers Zenat and phones her right away to find out more. He is impressed by her professionalism.

Applying For Jobs

As soon as you find a job you are interested in applying for, take down the details, research the position based on any information you have (for example the name of the company) and apply immediately.

  • Read the job advertisement very carefully.
  • Write down the skills and qualifications the employer is asking for and make sure you address these in your CV and cover letter.
  • Do not use the closing application date as an excuse to delay getting your application ready – you want to be first not last to apply.
  • Before sending your application recheck your spelling and grammar and make sure someone else has checked it for you.
  • Apply the way you have been asked to. If it says email only, do not post an application.
  • You may follow your application with a phone call after a few days but keep it brief. Do not phone the company if it expressly asks candidates not to.
  • Record your application and the details of the job in your “job application log” so you can remember what you have applied for.

You may apply for twenty jobs before you find the right one, so it is very important you keep track of what you have applied for.

A job application log will help you remember all the important details about jobs you have applied for. Keep your log near the phone, so when an employer calls you about one of your job applications you can quickly figure out which job it is and what skills and qualifications you need to focus on.

Every time you apply for a job you need to keep a record of:

  • The job title/ name of the position
  • The name of the company (if known)
  • The name of the contact you applied to (if known)
  • The date you applied for the job
  • The closing date for applications (this will give you some idea of when you could be contacted)
  • A copy of the job advertisement for the position (if you are responding to an internet or newspaper advertisement)
  • Your application, including your cover letter and CV
  • Any correspondence you receive about the job
  • A list of the key skills and qualities that the job requires and a matching list of your skills and relevant experience – this information can be used if you get a initial phone interview and to prepare for a face-to-face interview.
Talking To Employers

While you are job searching, your home phone and cell phone become business phones.

Your family will be supporting you in your job search, so explain to them how important it is for them to answer the phone clearly and to take specific messages if you are not available.

  • When you are job hunting, always answer your phone professionally, politely and in English. Ask your family and friends to do the same.
  • Script a polite, professional response for your family, when answering your calls.
    “No I am sorry, Zenat is not available right now. Can I take a message and get her to call you as soon as she gets back?”
  • Leave your mobile phone number by the phone, so your family can pass it on to the employer to contact you directly.
  • Return calls immediately. If the employer is not available when you return their call, leave a clear message and keep trying.


An employer has looked through all his applications and decided to make some follow-up phone calls. He is very interested in Ali and Zenat for the position of “site engineer”.

  1. Ali answers the phone clearly and confidently but when the employer introduces himself, Ali cannot remember which job he applied for with the company. The employer asks Ali why he wants the job and what skills he has to offer the job. Ali still cannot remember what the job is so he can only give a vague answer and he sounds unsure.
  2. Zenat answers the phone clearly and confidently, with her job log in front of her. When the employer says who it is, Zenat quickly finds the right application and answers that she is very pleased to hear from him as the position as a site engineer for his company is something she believes she is well suited to. When the employer asks her what skills she has Zenat is very specific and confident.

The employer tells Zenat he would like to see her for a face-to-face interview. Ali does not get an interview.

Interview Skills
  • Employers may “phone screen” a number of applicants before deciding who to interview face to face.
  • If the employer rings you it means they are interested, which is good news.
  • You may have no warning the call is coming – so prepare your answers when you create your application.
  • Stay calm and speak clearly and slowly.
  • Refer to your job application log so you know the skills the job requires and the skills and experience you have that match what the employer wants.
  • Listen carefully to what the employer asks you. Answer the question and do not provide a whole lot of extra information that has not been asked for.
  • Stand confidently and smile, as this will affect the way you sound.

You will know this is coming, so there are no excuses for being unprepared. The best way to prepare for an interview is to PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.

  • Make sure you have the correct date and the time of the interview.
  • When the appointment is made ask who the interviewer will be and if there will be more than one person (i.e. a panel interview).
  • Make sure you know where the company is and how to get there. Make sure you have arranged transport and that you know how long it will take to get there.
  • Decide what you are going to wear and get it ready.
  • Research the company and the role. You may be asked questions about the company and why you want to work there.
  • Read the CV and cover letter you prepared for the job and take note of your skills and achievements. The employer has chosen to meet you because of your application and they will want to talk to you about what you have written.
  • Think about the questions you might be asked and think about how you will answer them.
  • Be prepared to give specific examples of each of your stated skills and personal attributes.
  • Question: “Your CV says you have excellent analytical skills. Could you tell me about a time when you used your analytical skills?”
  • Question: “Your CV says you have great customer service skills. Can you give me an example of dealing with a difficult customer?”
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview.
  • You do not want to be late nor do you want to arrive too early. Be at the reception desk 10 minutes prior to the interview.
  • Greet the interviewer by name and introduce yourself with a firm handshake.
  • Remind yourself you have the skills for the job.
  • Do not rush through your answers. Take your time and speak clearly.
  • Listen carefully to what is being asked and answer the question.
  • Do not give “yes” or “no” answers, unless the employer is just checking a piece of information with you.
  • Do not be repetitive or babble – too much talking may bore the interviewer.
  • Make sure your answers have a beginning, middle and end – concise and articulate answers will impress the listener.
  • Be prepared to ask your own questions. Intelligent questions can help to show your knowledge of the job, the company and the industry. Questions also show you are interested in the company and the job and that you have been thinking about the position.

If you are asked for an interview, the employer will already believe you have the skills to do the job. A lot of what a face-to-face interviewer is trying to find out is if you will fit into the company – your personality.

In a small business or small team in a large company, the personalities of the different people are very important. Will the team get along with each other? Is this someone I want to spend 40 hours a week with?

What to do:

  • Relax, smile and be genuinely interested in finding out about this person and company.
  • Enjoy yourself, interviews can be fun – they are a learning experience and an opportunity to meet new people.
  • Be confident about your skills and experience.
  • Be prepared to talk about things other than work – your family, the traffic, the weather, parking, sports, the office décor, the beach, almost anything that will interest you and the interviewer.
  • Humour is a big part of kiwi culture, particularly if you make jokes about yourself.
  • Your objective is to make friends with the interviewer.
  • If there is more than one interviewer, make eye contact with everyone around the table.

What not to do:

  • Be so nervous that you are unable to express yourself.
  • Be shy about using your English – words are always better than silence.

You arrive 10 minutes before your interview well dressed and confident in your research. Your interview starts off very well, but you begin to have trouble understanding the questions due to the accent of the interviewer.

Do not smile and nod if you do not understand the question! You are making a fatal error by demonstrating that you will not ask questions and that you will make mistakes, rather than clarifying instructions. You will also appear to have very low comprehension, as the employer may assume you don’t know how to ask for clarification.
Interview Questions

Practice and preparation are the keys to a successful interview.

There are hundreds of questions an employer might ask, but they are all trying to assess your skills and attributes, how you work and if you will fit into their company.

Answer positively and truthfully and stick to the question. Keep in mind the type of job and the type of company you are talking to when you answer the questions.

Common Questions

  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • What skills do you have that make you suitable for this job?
  • Briefly, talk to me about your work history.
  • You have previously worked in a very different working environment, what do you see the differences as being? How have you prepared for those differences?
  • What achievements are you most proud of in your career so far?
  • Do you prefer to work in a team or by yourself?
  • What have you been criticised for at work? How do you respond to criticism?
  • Are you a leader or a follower?
  • Tell me about a difficult situation at work and how you dealt with it?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • How do you cope with stress?
  • What would you describe as your biggest weakness?
  • Why did you decide to work in New Zealand?
  • Tell me what you know about this company and the job we are offering?
  • What parts of the job we are offering excite you?
  • How would you describe yourself?
  • What do you want to know about the job and the company?

Careers NZ: Behavioural Interview Questions and Answers

A SKILL is the ability to do something. An ATTRIBUTE is a personality quality. NZ employers need to see a good balance of both when they meet you.

Which of the following are attributes?

During your interview it is a good idea to promote your attributes, as well as your skills. Some common attributes are independence, team player, strong work ethic, welcoming personality, discretion, approachable….

Do not only focus on your skills or you could be overlooked.

Starting a new job is an exciting and sometimes intimidating step – especially if it is your first job in a new country.

This section contains some basic information about what you can expect in your first week, coping with the uncertainties of a new job and what your rights are as an employee in New Zealand.

New Zealand Employment Law

Employment Agreements

Every employee must have a written employment agreement. It can be either an individual agreement or a collective agreement.

There are some provisions that must be included in employment agreements by law, and there are also a number of minimum conditions that must be met regardless of whether they are included in agreements. Employment law also provides a framework for the process of negotiating additional entitlements.

Minimum pay

You must be paid at least the minimum wage if you are:

  • a full-time employee
  • a part-time or casual employee
  • a home-worker, or
  • paid totally or partly by commission or on a piece rate.

There are three minimum wage rates:

  • the adult minimum wage
  • the new entrants’ minimum wage, and
  • the training minimum wage.

The adult minimum wage applies to employees aged 16 years and over, who are not new entrants or trainees. New entrants are 16 and 17 year olds who have been employed for less than 200 hours or three months; who are not supervising or training other workers; and who are not trainees. Trainees are employees aged 16 or over who are required by their employment agreements to undertake at least 60 credits a year in a registered training programme.

A small number of people hold an exemption from the minimum wage.

Minimum pay rates are reviewed each year. Information about the current minimum wage levels is available on the Department of Labour’s website at

Your employer generally needs to get your written consent to make deductions from your pay, or to pay your wages in a form other than cash. This consent can be included in your written employment agreement. Some deductions, for example PAYE personal tax, student loan and child support, are required by law and do not need your written consent. Your employer can’t pay employees differently if the only difference is whether they are male or female.

Break Entitlements

You are entitled to the following rest breaks and meal breaks during a work period:

  • one 10-minute paid rest break if you work for 2 hours or more but not more than 4 hours
  • one 10-minute paid rest break and one unpaid 30-minute meal break if you work more than 4 hours but not more than 6 hours, and
  • two 10-minute paid rest breaks and one unpaid 30-minute meal break if you work more than 6 hours but not more than 8 hours.

These requirements begin over again if your work period is more than 8 hours.

Employees and employers can agree to the timing of rest and meal breaks. If they cannot agree on the timing, the rest and meal breaks must be evenly spread throughout the work period where reasonable and practicable.

Employers and employees can agree to more and/or longer entitlements to rest and meal breaks.

The new rest and meal break minimums will not apply to employees who already get more or longer breaks under other laws, or are required to take breaks under other laws (for example, drivers covered by the rest break requirements in the Land Transport Rule: Work Time and Logbooks 2007).

Employers are also required to provide appropriate breaks and facilities for employees who wish to breastfeed or express breast milk while at work or during work time where this is reasonable and practicable under the circumstances. In determining what is reasonable and practicable, employers can take into account their operating environment and resources. These breaks are to be paid only if the employer and employee agree they will be. Employers and employees can agree to use a rest or meal break for the purposes of infant feeding.

More information about break entitlements is available on the Department of Labour’s website at:

Annual Holidays

You are entitled to four weeks' paid annual holidays at the end of each year of employment with any one employer. If you leave your employer before completing a full year of employment, you should get 8% of your gross earnings, less any holiday pay you have already received.

You can agree to holiday pay on a “pay as you go” basis if you have:

  • a job for a fixed-term of less than 12 months
  • a casual job where you work so irregularly that it isn’t practical for your employer to give you four weeks’ annual holiday.

This means that your employment agreement has to say clearly that this is how you will be paid and the amount paid. Holiday pay must be at least 8% of your gross earnings and recorded separately on your pay slip.

More information about annual holidays is available on the Department of Labour’s website at

Public holidays

There are 11 public holidays each year. If they fall on days you would normally work, you are entitled to be paid for that day, even if you do not actually work on that day.

  • If you work on a public holiday, you:
  • must be paid at least time-and-a-half for the time you work
  • are also entitled to an alternative holiday, if the public holiday falls on a day that you would normally work.
  • More information about public holidays, and when they occur, is available on the Department of Labour’s website at

Sick leave

After six months’ employment with an employer, you are entitled to five days' paid sick leave a year. You can take sick leave for yourself or to care for your spouse or partner, dependent child or parent. Unused sick leave can accumulate up to 20 days.

After three consecutive days of sick leave, an employer can request proof of the illness such as a medical certificate. Sick leave cannot be exchanged for payment and are not paid out at the end of the employment relationship.

Special eligibility tests apply for people with variable hours and in intermittent employment. See our web page at for more information.

Bereavement leave

After six months’ employment with an employer, you are entitled to paid bereavement leave of:

  • three days on the death of a spouse or partner, parent, child, sibling, grandparent, grandchild, or your spouse’s or partner’s parent, and
  • one day if your employer accepts that you’ve suffered a bereavement on the death of any other person not included above.

You do not have to take all of your bereavement leave entitlement at the same time. Special eligibility tests apply for people with variable hours and in intermittent employment. See our web page at: for more information.

Parental leave

You may be entitled to parental leave if you have worked for the same employer for an average of at least 10 hours per week, and at least one hour in every week or 40 hours in every month, for either the immediately preceding six or 12 months before the expected due date of your baby or the date you first assume care of a child you intend adopting.

If you meet the six-month employment eligibility criteria or have been self-employed for six months immediately preceding the expected due date of your baby or the date you assume care of a child you intend to adopt, you may be entitled to 14 weeks’ paid parental leave (some or all of which can be transferred to an eligible spouse/partner).

If you meet the 12-month eligibility criteria, you may also be entitled to up to 52 weeks’ extended parental leave (less any maternity leave taken), which can also be shared with a spouse/partner if they meet the 12-month eligibility criteria.

A spouse/partner with six months’ service may be entitled to an additional one week’s unpaid paternity/partner’s leave, and a spouse/partner with 12 months’ service may be entitled to two weeks’ unpaid paternity/partner’s leave. Up to 10 days’ unpaid special leave for pregnancy-related reasons is available for a pregnant mother before maternity leave begins.

It is illegal for an employer to either dismiss or discriminate against an employee on grounds of pregnancy or for taking parental leave.

Other leave rights

You may also be entitled to other rights in some situations. For example:

  • If you are injured in an accident at work or somewhere else you may be eligible for accident compensation. Your nearest ACC office can give you information about this (see the blue pages in the front of the phone book) or call ACC Claims Enquiries on 0800 101 996.
  • If you do full-time or part-time voluntary training in the armed forces, you may be able to get unpaid leave.

Flexible working arrangements

Employees with caring responsibilities have a statutory right to request a variation to their hours of work, days of work, or place of work.

To be eligible you must be caring for someone and have been employed by your employer for at least six months prior to making the request. When making the request, you must explain how the variation will help you to provide better care for the person concerned. Employers must consider a request and can refuse it only on certain grounds.

Equal pay & equal rights

Your employer can’t pay employees differently if the only difference is whether they are male or female.

Also, in most cases, your employer cannot discriminate in hiring or firing, pay, training or promotion because of your race, colour, national or ethnic origin, sex or sexual orientation, marital or family status, employment status, age, religious belief or political opinion, or if you have a disability, or participate in certain union activities.

Fixed-term employees

You can agree to be employed for a fixed-term rather than being a permanent employee. Your job may be for a certain time (e.g. for six months) or until something happens (e.g. when the project ends) or until work is completed (e.g. until the fruit is picked). You have the same rights as other employees, except that your job will finish at the end of the fixed-term. Your employer can only offer you fixed-term employment where:

  • there are genuine reasons for it (like seasonal work, project work, or where you are filling in for a permanent employee on leave), and
  • your employer tells you the reasons and how or when the employment will end, and you agree to this in your employment agreement.

Like other employment agreements, fixed-term agreements must be in writing.

Employees who are on trial periods of up to 90 days

A new employer – who employs 19 or fewer employees – can provide you with an offer of employment that includes a trial period. A trial period is voluntary, and must be agreed to in writing in good faith as part of your employment agreement. A trial period may be agreed to only if you have not previously been employed by the employer.

If you are given notice of dismissal before the end of a trial period, you cannot raise a personal grievance on the grounds of unjustified dismissal. You may, however, raise a personal grievance on other grounds, such as discrimination or harassment or unjustified action by the employer that disadvantages you.

If any employment relationship problem arises during the trial period, or if the employee is dismissed, the employee and the employer can access mediation services.

Employees on trial periods are entitled to all other minimum employment rights in relation to, for example, health and safety, employment agreements, minimum pay, annual holidays, public holidays, leave and equal pay.

Extra rights for employees doing certain catering, cleaning, caretaking, laundry and orderly work

Special rules apply to employees who do this type of work where their employer’s business is sold or their work is contracted out or given to a new contractor. You can obtain further information by visiting or by contacting the Department of Labour on 0800 20 90 20.

Union membership rights

You have the right to decide whether you want to join a union and, if so, which union. It is illegal for an employer to put unreasonable pressure on you to join or to not join a union, or to discriminate against you because you joined or didn't join a union.

It is also illegal for anyone else to put unreasonable pressure on an employee to join or to not join a union.

Union members may be nominated by their union to undertake employment relations education on paid leave, and have rights to attend paid union meetings. You can also require your employer to deduct union fees from your wages and pay them to your union. You can ask your union about this.

Employment relationship problems

Sometimes you might be worried about something at work. Maybe you’re not sure if your employer is paying you enough, or letting you have the leave you should get. Perhaps you think your employer has done something unfair, or hasn’t stopped something unfair happening.

First, you should check your facts, and talk about the problem with your union or a family member or friend, or with an advisor. You could either visit or contact the Department of Labour on freephone 0800 20 90 20 for information about your rights and obligations, and what to do. You should talk about the problem with your employer. You could take a union representative, a family member, a friend or other representative to support you. If you and your employer can’t resolve the problem by talking, a mediator or a labour inspector may be able to help. The service is free – call 0800 20 90 20 to find out more.


During your interview, your employer asks your age and if you are married. These questions make you uneasy.

What should you respond?

Although you have every right not to answer the question, it is better to handle the situation politely. Some employers may not be aware of employment legislature.
Starting Your New Job
  • If you are feeling nervous about your new job remind yourself that the employer chose you because they thought you were the best person for the job and because you had the right skills. So, you can do it.
  • Get a good sleep the night before you start your job. In the first week and especially on the first day you will be learning a lot – the names of the people you work with, company procedures, how to use equipment and all the tasks that your job requires – so you cannot afford to be tired.
  • Set your alarm clock. You do not want to be late to work in your first week (or ever!) so give yourself plenty of time to get ready. Choose what you are going to wear the night before and have it ready to put on. If you are travelling by public transport make sure you know the timetable and what time you need to catch the bus or train to get to your workplace on time. You should practice taking public transport to your work before you actually start the job.
  • To help you remember all the information you learn in the first few days and weeks you should carry a notebook and take note of important details about your job and the people you work with. You may receive some basic training when you start your job and it will help you remember and use the information if you take some notes.
  • Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – it is a great way to learn about your new job and your new company. If no one is available to answer your questions right away, keep a list of them and then ask your manager or colleague when they next have some time.
  • You may meet the people you will be working with for the first time. Remember that you will be spending a lot of time with them from now on, so make an effort to smile and be friendly and to talk to them. You should also learn the names of the people you work with and learn how to say them correctly.
  • If you have not already signed a job contract, it is likely you will do this on your first day. Your contract will contain information about what you are being paid, how much leave you are allowed, what your job requires you to do and how much notice you have to give your employer before you leave. Read it carefully and make sure your contract gives you at least the basic rights listed under the “New Zealand Employment Law” section.
  • If you have not already, you will probably be expected to fill out paperwork to enable your employer to process your pay and your tax. To make this process as easy as possible you should have your IRD number and your bank account number ready to give to your employer. See the “Before you begin” section. Having these details ready will ensure there are no delays for your first well-earned wages.

Good luck on your job search and congratulations on taking a practical step towards your New Zealand working career.

We welcome your feedback.