is that you cannot prepare for interviews. However, preparation
is essential to maximise your chance of success. It is worth
noting at this point that you are going to be nervous when you
go for the interview - this is natural. However, the more prepared
you are, the easier it will be to cope with your nerves, the
less you will actually have to think during the interview, and
the easier it will be for you to be able to fully answer the
Research the organisation and job
- Find out as much as you can about the
organisation, including its structure, what products and services it
offers, who the customers and competitors are, and where the main
offices are located.
- Thoroughly review the advertisement and position
- Try and determine the main focus, challenges,
barriers, opportunities, tasks and responsibilities involved. Knowing
this will help you predict questions for the interview and will help
show that you have the right competencies to succeed in the role.
Ask questions prior to
To assist in your preparation for the interview, talk
to your point of contact in the organisation or, if you are going
through a recruitment firm, speak directly with the recruitment
consultant handling the position. Some helpful questions include:
- What are the names and job titles of the
selection panel members?
- What format will the interview take?
- How long is the interview likely to be?
- Will I be required to perform any tasks during
the interview (e.g. presentation, case study)?
- Am I required to bring anything to the interview?
- What skills, knowledge, education would the ideal
- Is there any other information that you feel it
is important to know about this position?
- Why has the position become vacant?
- Is there other written information available
about the department?
- Is there an organisation chart for the department
or the team?
However, not all companies are
willing, or able to provide this information in advance. Sometimes
the interviewer or interview panel may not be selected until the day,
other times the organisation prefers to keep this information from
interviewees. There is no harm in politely and professionally asking
for this information.
Predict and prepare responses for interview
Candidates often worry that their mind may go
completely blank during an interview. Preparing, with a bit of method
and structure, will help allay your fears and concerns in this area.
- Revisit the key selection criteria for the
organisation (and position) you are being interviewed for.
- Review typical interview questions (refer to
examples of both competency based and traditional interview
- Write out likely questions, based on the
selection criteria and position description. For example, if you know
that leadership is an important competency for the role, you can put
yourself into the shoes of the selection panel and think of questions
that would help assess the leadership skills of potential
- Think through your ideal response for each of the
above, note down outline answers using brief notes or bullet points.
Think of key words and phrases that will trigger more detail in your
mind, so you can provide the interviewer with full, relevant and
- For a competency or behaviourally based
interview, think about your previous roles and how these could be
used to display to an interviewer that you have the skills /
competencies that they are looking for.
- Even if you are not asked competency or
behaviourally based questions, include actual, specific examples as
part of your answer as this will provide tangible evidence and
clearly demonstrate your skills, abilities, experience, knowledge
Prepare questions to ask
Ask questions to show your interest in the direction
and the success of the organisation and how your contribution can add
value. Your questions should demonstrate a clear and up-to-date
understanding of the role and of the organisation's strategic goals
Avoid direct questions on salary, hours of work,
leave, other candidates for the position, bonuses.
Presentation & Grooming
- Clothes should fit well, be in good repair, and
be neatly pressed. A suit is preferable. Shoes, belts and bags should
be clean and in good repair. Less is best for jewellery, bags,
scarves and hair accessories. Ties, generally, should be professional
and conservative. Avoid garish, humorous and stained ties.
- Keep all electrical accessories (mobile, pager
etc) out of sight and turned off. Turn off watch alarms.
- Keep your grooming clean, neat and simple. Pay
attention to possible details such as loose hair, chipped nail polish
and dirty fingernails. Make sure that any aftershave/perfume you wear
is not overpowering as some people are quite sensitive to these
Starting the Interview
- Interviews can be won or lost in the first five
minutes. If you appear to be confident and enthusiastic from the
outset, your answers are more likely to be reviewed positively, as
people's perception of information is coloured by the feelings they
have towards you.
- Your body language provides a number of messages
to interviewers. When you greet the interviewer smile and give a
confident and welcoming handshake. A weak or limp handshake may give
an impression of uncertainty or a lack of confidence.
- Remember that the interviewer is a person, so
talk to them. Take in their responses, monitor their body language,
think about their perspective. Try to enjoy the experience! Genuine
eye contact and a smile will assist in this process.
- Wait until you are offered a chair before sitting.
- Maintain appropriate eye contact throughout the
interview. (Do not stare or look away too much. Look at them).
- Listen to what the interviewer is telling you
about the organisation and your likely role within it. Try to look
interested at all times.
- Listen to the interviewer(s) and clarify the
question if you do not understand it. You can't answer a question
adequately if you don't understand what is being asked. The bucket
approach (i.e. throwing everything that you know about the question)
seldom answers the questions adequately.
- Try to relate your answers to the requirements of
the position and the organisation (i.e. in answering a question about
your teamwork skills, you will provide examples that demonstrate your
skills and then link these to what you know about the teamwork
involved for this position).
Ending the Interview Confidently
- Have your own intelligent questions prepared before the
interview, as in many cases, interviewers will give you
time to ask questions or make further comments at the end
of the interview. If you have any important things to add
about your suitability, do it here.
- If there are particular things that you are looking for
in a job and they haven't been mentioned in the interview,
ask about them. For example:
Are there any areas you would like me to expand upon?
How is performance measured?
How tough is your organisation’s
opposition? (You should know from your research who the major
Are there opportunities that are unique to this
job within the organisation?
What are the company's plans for the future?
What sort of induction and training do you
INTERVIEW DOS AND DON'TS
- Dress appropriately. Extremes in fashion or very
casual clothes should generally be avoided. Look neat and clean.
- Be on time. Make sure that you are 10 minutes
early and if you are going to be unavoidably delayed ring and let
- Express yourself and your views clearly.
- Make eye-contact. Remember to talk to the
interviewer(s) and not the top right hand corner of the room or at
- Listen carefully to the questions and answer
clearly and thoughtfully.
- Make sure you fully understand the question.
Query any points that you are not sure about.
- Ask questions. Selection is a two way process.
They select you, but you also select them.
- Be confident and show enthusiasm for the
organisation and the position.
- Make sure that you always present your skills in
a positive light. Even when describing your weaknesses you should
always show them what you are doing to improve or overcome them.
- Don’t be late.
- Don't dress too casually or look untidy.
- Don't make derogatory remarks about past or
- Don't fidget or twitch.
- Don't sit there like a statue. However, if you like to use
your hands for emphasis when you are talking, try not to
be too excessive with your gestures.
- Don't interrupt the interviewer before they have
finished asking you a question and never finish their sentences for
- Don't lie. If you have to lie about what you are like
or your abilities in order to obtain the job, you are likely
to find yourself in a position that you don't really like
and may find it difficult to succeed in.
- Don't worry if you answer one question badly.
Treat each question individually.
- Don’t waffle or get distracted. Keep to the
point when answering questions.
- Don't talk about salary, holidays or bonuses
unless the interviewer(s) bring them up.
- Don't answer questions with a simple
"yes" or "no". Make sure that you explain your
- Don't wear too much perfume or aftershave.
- Don't smoke.