Interview Tips

In the same way that it is important to prepare your CV correctly, it is also important to prepare yourself for interview, particularly if you have not been to one recently. The interview is obviously an opportunity for the company to assess your skills and experience in line with their requirements but is also an opportunity for you to investigate whether this is the right opportunity for you.

Preparation:

  • Try and find out as much about the company as possible. Try and understand the company’s business, market, products and unique selling points. Attempt to find out about the organisation's products, locations, clients, philosophy, goals, previous growth record and growth plans and how they value employees and customers, etc.
  • Make sure you fully understand the role.
  • Consider the types of questions you are going to be asked and practice the answers that are going to present you in the best possible way. Some examples of typical questions are:
    • What are your short-range and long range goals and objectives?
    • What are your strengths, weaknesses and interests?
    • Why did you choose or why do you want to be a JOB TITLE?
    • How do you think a friend/colleague would describe you?
    • Describe a situation in which you had to work with a difficult person (another student, co-worker, customer, supervisor, etc.). How did you handle the situation? Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?
    • Was there an occasion when you disagreed with a supervisor's decision or company policy? Describe how you handled the situation.
    • What motivates you?
    • In what ways do you think you can make a contribution to our organisation?
    • Describe your greatest career/personal achievements.
    • How do you work under pressure?
    • How would you handle conflict? Give an example.
  • Take a copy of your CV with you and make sure that you are familiar with its content as a lot of questions may revolve around it.
  • Take relevant samples with you.
  • Take a note pad and pen with any prepared questions that you want to ask. During the interview note down salient points or questions that you can return to later. However, don’t spend large amounts of time writing!
  • Wear smart business attire.
  • Make sure you know where you are going and arrive 10 to 15 minutes early.
  • Be pleasant and polite to everyone you meet and ask for the person who is to interview you by their name.

During the interview:

  • Make eye contact, shake hands firmly and smile.
  • Try to relax and be positive; the interviewer is only trying to find out about you not catch you out.
  • Make sure that you can talk easily about your career history to date, highlight achievements and try to link them to how they will help you in the position for which you are applying. If you have taken work samples with you, let them know that they are available but do not force them upon the interviewer.
  • Listen to the questions and try to answer them. Do not interrupt and, if you don’t know the answer, be honest. If you need time to think just say “can we come back to that one later whilst I think about it”.
  • Don’t lie or be critical of your current or last employer.
  • Don’t use jargon that may not be understood.
  • Before you get up to leave the interview:
    • Let them know that you want the job.
    • Ask if they have any reservations about your abilities and, if they do, try to cover them by focusing on your strengths.
    • Also, ask what the next stage is, if they have other candidates to see, whether they are able to offer the job now or whether there will be a second interview.
    • Thank the interviewer(s) for their time and consideration.
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