Interview Hints & Tips
You’ve worked hard to get that interview, so don’t allow lack of preparation or last minute nerves let you down. Here are our top tips for a successful interview.
The key to a successful interview is: Preparation, Practice & Performance!
- Research the organisation and business sector.
- Prepare answers to standard questions.
- Prepare your own questions for the interview – write them down if you are worried you will forget them!
- Dress appropriately (suited and booted unless advised otherwise) and pay attention to good grooming details and personal hygiene.
- Read through your CV and application letter, as your interviewer/s will refer to them.
- Plan your route and map it out, working out your journey time – aim to arrive ten minutes early.
- Check buses/trains/parking/petrol in the car and make sure you have change for fares/parking fees as necessary.
- Park considerately and safely if using the organisation’s car park.
- Turn OFF your mobile phone.
- If you chew gum, spit it out before you arrive; do not walk in directly after smoking a cigarette; if you are a smoker, or have eaten strong smelling foods (e.g. garlic), it would be considerate to eat a mint / use a mint spray before going to the interview.
- Be friendly and courteous with everyone you meet – you never know who has the final say in your appointment.
- Use a firm handshake whilst smiling and making good eye contact.
- Make sure you direct your answers to everyone if it is a panel or group interview.
- Find out as much as you can about the job.
- Give clear concise answers and concentrate on facts, not opinions.
- Answer the question that is asked and do not volunteer irrelevant information.
- Speak clearly and confidently and do not allow yourself to be discouraged.
- Constantly remind yourself that you have something to sell and focus on how you can make a positive contribution in the role and the company.
- If for some reason you are running late, be sure to call the interviewer in advance to apologise and let them know your estimated time of arrival.
- Ask for their reservations at the end of the interview to mitigate and overcome any objections.
- Be late. Even if you have a legitimate excuse it’s still hard to bounce back, people are suspicious because they hear the same excuses all the time. On the other hand, you don’t want to show up too early and risk appearing desperate, but you do want to be there at least five minutes early or at the very least on time.
- Show up unprepared. Plenty of people attend job interviews knowing very little about the company they are interviewing with when all it would take is a simple Google search to find out. As a result, they end up asking obvious questions, which signal to the interviewer that they are too lazy to prepare.
- Ask about salary, benefits, perks etc. – your initial interview with a company shouldn’t be about what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company. You should be selling yourself as to why the company can’t live without you.
- Focus on future roles rather than the job at hand. You need to be interested in the job you are actually interviewing for. Whilst a company wants to see that you are ambitious, they also want assurances you are committed to the job you’re being hired for.
- Turn the weakness question into a positive. Don’t say you work too hard or you are too much of a perfectionist, as the interviewers are more likely to roll their eyes than be blown away. Instead, be honest and come up with a weakness that can be improved on and won’t ruin your chances of getting a job. Perhaps talk about the skills you don’t have that will add value, but aren’t required for the job.
- Criticise current or previous employers / colleagues.
- Answer a question with another question.
- Fidget incessantly – if you suffer from any nervous habits (e.g. nail biting) you may find it helpful to clasp your hands in your lap.
- Interrupt the interviewers – although they may interrupt you.
- Lie or exaggerate. Even if you get through the interview process with your half- truths, chances are you won’t be equipped to handle the job you were hired to do. Not to mention the more you lie the more likely you are to slip up.
- Request a cigarette break or answer your mobile phone etc (yes, people actually have been known to do both!).
- Leave without finding out when you will hear if you have made it to the next round of the
recruitment process, and what that entails.
Standard Interview Questions
- Tell me about yourself.
- Tell me about your current/most recent position.
- Tell me about a project when you have had to meet tight deadlines and how have you accomplished this successfully?
- Why are you looking for a change?
- What do you like most about your current role?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Why do you want this job?
- What do you know about our organisation?
- Why should we offer you this job? / What can you bring to this position?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- What’s been your biggest success at work?
- What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? How have you overcome it?
- How would your colleagues/peers/friends describe you?
- What is your approach to time management?
- What motivates you?
- Do you like to work in a team or on your own?
- Why did you choose this career path?
- How did you get your last job?
- How mobile are you?
- Where do you see yourself in five years time?
Unusual (but not uncommon) Interview Questions
- If you were an animal, what kind of animal do you think you would be and why?
- What kind of biscuit do you liken yourself to?
- Star Trek or Star Wars?