Firstly, if you have got to the interview stage, congratulations! You are amongst the top candidates for the job, and now it is your chance to really stand out from the other applicants and secure the job vacancy.
The job interview can be an incredibly high-pressure event, as the interviewer will evaluate everything about you from the moment you walk in the door. It is absolutely essential that you make a good first impression immediately.
Do your homework
In the week preceding the interview, make sure that you are prepared by asking yourself a few simple questions and carrying out a little background research about your potential employer.
- Check the job description. Familiarize yourself with the vacancy, its responsibilities and what will be expected of you. The job description may contain information omitted by the job advert.
- Review your CV and application. Look at any experience or qualifications you have mentioned, and try to explain how they relate to the job.
- Assess yourself. Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and think of examples to back them up. Concentrate on past examples of showing leadership, communication, technical skills and a good work ethic.
- Research your recruiter. Find out all you can about your recruiter from their website, publications and annual reports. A good knowledge of their aims, past work and the sector as a whole shows interest and enthusiasm.
- Prepare for any recruitment tests. Some interviews include completing tasks (such as giving a presentation or completing an aptitude test) to evaluate your skills. Check with the company beforehand on testing during the interview process, and ask what style of questions may be asked in order to prepare for it as much as possible.
- Don’t assume your interviewer knows anything about you. Especially in jobs with high amounts of applicants, many interviewers will only have glanced at your CV and covering letter, or may not be able to remember your skills and interests from your CV. Be prepared to talk about your CV in more detail, and remind your interviewer of why they should employ you.
University career centres may run mock interviews, which can help you get into the right mindset. Try to think about what sort of questions are likely to come up during the interview, and how you can potentially answer them.
Example interview questions
Many interviewers often use at least a couple of common interview questions to gauge your abilities. Develop answers to the example questions here to prepare for your interview.
On the day
Even with all the preparation in the world, it is still likely that something unexpected will come up during the interview. Interviewers will be evaluating how you react to unexpected questions, and will in fact be evaluating you from the moment you walk in the door.
- Be early. Try to give yourself plenty of time to get there, and arrive early to show that you are keen. Never be late!
- Be smart. Check in advance the dress code for the interview. Remember, in general it is better to be dressed too smart rather than looking casual.
- Be friendly. Eye contact, body language and tone of voice will all be evaluated by the interviewer. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to the interviewer first with a handshake – show confidence.
- Be clear. During the interview, try to sound confident and emphasise your skills without being boastful. If you need a moment to think about a question before answering, take one. However, don’t stall for time, or mumble out a quick response.
At the end of the interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions about the job. It is best to have some prepared, but don’t ask them if they’ve already been answered during the interview. Try to avoid asking about hours or salary – it is best to address these questions to the human resources department instead.