Your interview is a chance to market yourself to employers and also an opportunity to gather useful information about a potential employer. The way you respond to an employer's invitation to an interview, arriving on time, your interactions with office staff and your ability to stay calm (when faced with a difficult question or a transport delay) all play a part in communicating who you are and what you have to offer.
Be ready to receive interview invitations from employers
- Always be polite and professional when answering emails or calls from potential employers.
- Regularly check your messages to ensure you do not miss any attempts by an employer to contact you.
- Communicate clearly. If you receive a call at a difficult time (e.g. you might have poor reception or be in a noisy location) ask if you can call them back, either straight away or at an alternative time that's convenient for both of you.
- Be prepared to answer questions about when you are available for an interview (you might need to use a diary or calendar to keep track of your commitments).
- Make a note of when and where the interview will take place.
- Avoid surprises by finding out what the format of the interview will be:
- Who will be interviewing you? (Is it one person or an interview panel?)
- Will the interview be question and answer style or will it involve completing tasks?
- Do you need to bring anything to the interview? (such as documents or licences).
Prepare for the interview beforehand
- Research the job and the business so that you know what they do and can explain at your interview how you meet their requirements.
- Practise your answers to possible interview questions. Think about what questions you might be asked at your interview. These are often based on the selection criteria. Prepare and practise responses to these questions. Some more generic interview questions include:
- Tell me about yourself?
- What interests you about this job?
- Why are you the best person for the job?
- What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
- Can you work under pressure/to deadlines?
- Think about questions that you might like to ask during your interview. You can search online for appropriate questions to ask employers during job interviews.
- Re-read the advertisement and your application so that you can remember exactly what you submitted. Don't assume that the interviewer will remember details from your cover letter or résumé.
- Organise appropriate clothes and grooming: if it is a professional role then a suit may be appropriate. In most other roles smart casual clothes (with good attention to personal grooming) should be acceptable.
- Organise your transport: calculate your travel time and consider your travel options, decide on how you will travel and double-check timetables and the availability of transport for the relevant time of day. Organise your transport so you arrive at least 10 minutes prior to your interview.
- Pack your bag: make sure you have the correct address for the interview and the contact person's details (this will come in handy if you are faced with an unexpected delay due to transport problems). Also, are there any documents or licences you need to bring to the interview?
Make the right impression on employers at interview
- Arrive on time (preferably 10 minutes before). If you are running late, call the contact person, apologise briefly and let them know when you will be there, ask if that is alright, or if you should make an alternative appointment.
- First impressions count. At the interview, smile, make eye contact and shake hands firmly when you meet the interviewer and any other staff. Also be conscious of your body language - sitting upright, smiling and not crossing your arms or fidgeting will give a good impression.
- Be confident in talking about yourself. You need to know what you are good at and how you prefer to work. The answers you provide to interview questions should tell a clear story of how your work experiences, life experience, skills and interests demonstrate your strengths and abilities.
- Listen to what the other person is saying. The interview is a conversation between you and the employer – they are trying to find the right person for this role. Make sure you really listen to what they are asking. It's fine to take a few moments to frame your answer before answering the question. If you tend to talk a lot then try to be concise and watch for any signs that you are talking for too long.
- Stay calm. If you don't know the answer to an interview question or if you don't understand the question, ask them to clarify. You can also try rephrasing the question in your own words to check you understand what is being asked. This can help you relate the question back to one of the common interview questions (that you have practised answers to in preparation for the interview).
Follow-up after the interview
- Show your enthusiasm. If you don't hear from the employer within a few days of your interview you can take the initiative to make contact and let them know you are still interested. There's no reason to be embarrassed if you don't get the job; it is still an opportunity to learn and get feedback so that you can be better prepared for next time.