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Interview Tips

Interviews are a major part of your job search. Don't think of them as an interrogation during which an interviewer questions you, but as an opportunity to exchange information in a conversational manner.

Preparing for your Interview

  • Organise your clothes for the interview in advance. Remember to dress professionally or suitable to the culture of the company and the image you wish to project.
  • Assemble relevant information beforehand (eg resume/cv, documentation, qualifications/references).
  • Understand your salary package.
  • Research the company and their products or services (using the internet, published materials or contacts) so that you are able to ask relevant questions.
  • Interviewers often seek practical examples of past behaviour, which help demonstrate your competencies. You should be prepared to share examples of achievements or past behaviours. Ensure you describe the situation, the action you took, and the results or outcomes of your action.


  • Be on time. This means not only don't be late, but don't be too early (if you are late, apologise politely, don't labour the point, move on and concentrate on the interview.
  • Don't arrive with too many "things". If you walk in carrying unnecessary items, you will give the wrong first impression.
  • You only get one chance to make a first impression, make a good one. Smile. Make eye contact. Have a firm handshake.
  • Interviewers frequently use 'small talk' to break the ice. Follow the interviewers lead on this, but don't initiate a lot of small talk yourself. This could set the wrong tone.

Interview Structure

No two styles of interviewing are the same. Go with the flow, but remember that interviewers value such qualities as:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Energy
  • Clear communication
  • Warmth
  • Good listening skills
  • Concise and relevant answers
  • Honesty (never lie)

Normally, the interviewer gets information from you and then tells you about the position. However, this order of doing things varies from one interviewer to the next.

If you feel your body language is conveying anxiety, it is usually best to verbalise it. (For example, "I haven't interviewed in years and I'm a little surprised to find myself nervous"). Verbalising your nervousness often reduces it and interviewers are usually empathetic.

Closing the Interview

Prepare pertinent questions to ask towards the end of the interview. Some examples include:

  • Is it a new or existing position?
  • What are the responsibilities and priorities (if not already discussed)?
  • What are the criteria for measuring success?
  • What long-term career opportunities are available?

Don't initiate any discussion about remuneration at the first interview. However, be open and honest if the interviewer asks what are your salary expectations.

Ask (if you haven't been told) what the process will be after the interview has been completed.

Have a couple of positive comments to make that recap some of the highlights of the conversation. If you are genuinely interested, say so. Leave the interviewer with a good impression, smile and use a firm handshake.

Common Traps

  • Not listening to questions carefully.
  • Being poorly prepared.
  •  Making very general or vague statements, which are lacking in substance.
  • Saying "we" instead of referring to your own achievements.
  • Being too friendly or casual.
  • Being over enthusiastic.
  • Slouching, mumbling, speaking slowly.
  • Not answering the questions.

Common Interview Questions

  • Tell me about yourself?
  • What kind of position are you looking for?
  • Why do you want to work in this industry/company? 
  • What did you do in your previous position?
  • How was your time allocated?
  • What did you like the least/best about it?
  • How many people did you supervise?
  • What was the budget responsibilites?
  • What did you accomplish?
  • Why did you leave your last position?
  • Give me some examples of the most difficult problems you encountered in your previous position, how did you resolve them?
  • How was your performance measured?
  • How did you get along with your manager?
  • What are the qualities you look for in a manager?
  • How would you describe your own operating/management style?
  • What do you consider to be your strongest qualities?
  • What are some of your weaknesses?
  • What position do you hope to reach in the next few years?
  • What are your leisure activities? Your hobbies? Why do you like them?
  • What is important to you in your job/life?