Interviews are an integral part of most selection processes. Related areas include specific assessment [including
psychometric testing, e.g. personality, values, specific skills, interests, group/individual testing] and the submission of
résumés [CVs]. They have also been known to check your web presence - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, …
There are several interview types including - one on one, panel format, telephone, technical/competence-based or
You can access practice formats for many standard assessment tests and information on developing résumés [as well as
sample résumé formats & software] via the Résumé page.
Some Interview Basics
Some Basic Interview Requirements
- If you don’t genuinely want the job, don’t waste everybody’s, time. Your lack of
interest and intent will be seen by any good interviewer.
- If you do want the job, you should know about the specific job, the company advertising it and its industry or
profession. This includes :
- specific job requirements [skills and obligations];
- company size and structure;
- company reputation & values;
- company goals & objectives;
- future opportunities;
- professional development opportunities;
- production methods;
- overseas links and branches;
- research possibilities …
- Just as importantly, know yourself. Make an honest [brutally so !] assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, be genuine
in responses you develop and present to others [see final section]. For example, :
- know your strengths and how they would benefit both position and company;
- know your weaknesses ! Consider ways to demonstrate how you plan on developing present weaknesses into future strengths
for yourself and others;
- know particular skills you possess, e.g. previous experience/competency in this area, languages, computing, language skills
[written & verbal];
- are you a self-starter ? ;
- if you need time off for representative sport, … .
- After doing this, make sure you are clear about what you expect and want from this interview !
Make sure your understanding of this area flows into the creation of your résumé/CV so there is a common message
- Use this information to consider questions that may be asked.
- What do you think is your greatest strength … ?
- What do you think is your biggest weakness … ?
- How do your studies relate to this position ?
- Where do you see yourself/your career five years from now … ?
- What do you believe is your greatest achievement to this point … ?
- What do you know about … ?
- How would you handle this situation … ?
- How would you use this … ?
- If you were asked to do ‘X’ … ?
- Tell us about yourself … .
- Work out appropriate answers. Know how your strengths apply to these situations. Revise answers [numerous times !] prior
to the interview. You might use virtual interview sites noted on the Careers page. Also note
the Presentation area below.
- Work out how you will respond to questions about previous employment/employers. Always concentrate on positive aspects,
never on negatives. If it was positive tell them, but clarify why you are moving on. If it was negative, note any positive
aspects. You might consider something like e.g. ‘I believe that moving on allows me to/provides me with an
opportunity to … ’.
- Work out how you will respond to questions you consider inappropriate or uncomfortable. These could be questions about family
situations, religion, culture, ability to work with/for certain people, totally illegal questions [industrial,
discrimination]. There are multiple ways of responding from answering, trying to change the subject to verbal confrontation about
what has been asked. Work out what to you is inappropriate and how you will respond in various scenarios.
- Be willing to ask questions. Make sure they are specific, relevant and don’t only make you look interested in salary and
conditions. Most interview[er]s give an opportunity to ask some questions, while many panels will respond to questions you have
from the process.
- Many interviews provide an opportunity for you to make a statement about yourself. Prepare using the information above, any
other achievements and specific qualifications.
- Remember, it is going to tell them about you and what you bring to the position. It has to be relevant and present
you in the best way. Visualise how you would operate in the specific role and incorporate this into what you say. However, see
Be Honest below.
- What you present has to be relevant to the role. Your presentation, responses to questions and opportunities posed by
the panel must follow this dictum. Nothing is worse, from experience !, than an interviewee who does not address the
requirements of the position they are after.
Presentation, Presentation, Presentation,
Presentation covers every aspect.
- Remember, everything from the time you leave home [yes, really !] will impact on how you perform.
- Never be late. If you are running late, at the least you will be anxious about arriving on time [or should be !],
so make sure you leave in plenty of time. Allow time so you arrive 10-15 minutes before a scheduled interview. If you are
unavoidably delayed, make sure you or a trusted person notifies them, provides the reason why you have been delayed and asks to
- Ensure dress and appearance are appropriate for the position and company concerned. Do homework on what is suitable and wear
that. If you are going to err, do so on the conservative side.
- Appearance is as important as dress - be tidy, don’t be festooned with extraneous things. Brightly coloured, punk
haircuts and daggy clothes usually don’t impress ! If time permits [and it should], you may want to freshen up just
before an interview. Having some anti-perspirant available can be useful, especially if you sweat a lot.
- Make sure all electronic items [e.g. telephones] are off ! Unexpected interruptions are not appreciated and suggest a lot
about the importance you place on it. In case a genuine emergency occurs, leave a phone number and contact name as a means of
communication. This is more professional.
- Be yourself. Don’t try to be familiar with the panel, adopt a professional attitude - be open, enthusiastic, clear
in what you say, responsive to questions, focussed on the task and your evidence in support of the application.
- Speak clearly - don’t race what you say, don’t mumble.
- Don’t speak so slowly the interviewers think you are treating them as cretins.
- Don’t speak too loudly.
- Don’t use foul language or slang.
- Speak at normal pitch and pace with emphasis on those aspects you want to be certain are heard and understood.
- Don’t ramble. If something is relevant, say what is appropriate, then allow the interview to continue or be
- If asked about yourself, do not start from your birth and work through till today. Only talk about those aspects of yourself
and your life relevant to the question, and the position, unless specifically asked about some other aspect of your life [see
inappropriate question section above].
- Don’t try to be humorous, it seldom works. If you persist, and it doesn’t succeed, make sure you know your fall
back position and how to get there.
- If you are not certain what is being asked, don’t answer on the presumption you know what was said. Seek clarification,
e.g. ‘I am not fully clear about what you are asking, could you clarify this for me ?’, ‘Could you rephrase
- Be willing to take a few moments to marshal your thoughts before answering. Giving an immediate response may not result in
answering the way you want, or they would like.
- If you realise what you are saying is not what you planned, or is coming across incorrectly, be prepared to stop. Settle
yourself, then tell the interviewer[s] you are going to start your answer again. Indicate you were unhappy with how you began to
respond, and you feel you can provide a better answer to clarify what you mean, … . Attempting to correct yourself
midstream, without clarification, makes things worse rather than better, for you and for their understanding of what you are
trying to achieve.
- Think about body language. Good interviewers read this as well as listening to what you say. No one expects you to sit like a
statue but don’t, for example :
- continually cross and uncross your legs;
- wave your hands around;
- nod your head at everything that is said, … .
- It is best to remain relaxed as possible [see Finally below].
- Adopt a comfortable position and remain in it.
- Use your hands for emphasis only where necessary or appropriate.
- Speak clearly [see above].
- Maintain eye contact with all members of a panel, no matter how many. This does not mean look at each in turn, but ensure
you look at each regularly during the interview.
- Exude quiet confidence at all times.
- Don’t just sit like a store dummy. Be an integral part of the process.
- When the interview is complete, take the opportunity to thank the panel and indicate you look
forward to hearing from them. The latter expresses interest on your part and tends to be remembered.
Other Points to Consider [Well before the
Other Points to Consider
- Be organised ! This can’t be emphasised enough.
- If you have planned, arranged, practised [see Finally below], know what to do and how to do it - there is a
greater chance of success. You need to plan :
- how to find information [if you don’t already have it];
- how to present yourself [see above for more detail] -
- stance [body language];
- information about yourself;
- additional written material if required, … .
- how to get to the interview in plenty of time so you are not rushed, sweaty, anxious, unprepared [transport,
time factors, … ];
- how to follow up the interview, especially if you are unsuccessful. How long to wait for a response ? Decide
on a reasonable period of time. If a specific time period is indicated, do not contact them earlier. However, make
sure there is contact to find what is happening;
- What to do if you are successful - Have they told you ? If they haven’t -
- how are you going to find out ?
- who do you contact ?
- what do you ask ?
- where do you get and take forms ?
- when do you do this ? …
- If you were unsuccessful, what can you learn from the panel to give you more chance at future interviews ? Don’t
be afraid to ask questions e.g., -
- ‘Can you give me examples of where I could improve … ?’;
- ‘Was there something specific … ?’.
- Good interviewers should give some indication [and specific examples] of what prevented your success.
- Do not throw away any planning or results. Use it to prepare for future interviews, whether successful or not.
Remember, most people will probably change employment several times. This way you will not have to start from the beginning in
Finally, don’t forget these …
- Practise, Practise and More Practise !
- There is virtually no one who will achieve their best without this.
- Practise :
- answering hypothetical questions;
- presenting your personal statement;
- asking questions;
- presenting your knowledge of the position/company/industry/profession;
- doing this in different order and sequences, with different people;
- how you enter the room, how you sit, what you do with your hands, etc.;
- eye contact while talking with people. Remember, have eye contact with everyone on a panel;
- how you are going to present documentation if required [where will I have it ? how will I hand it over ? who will I
give it to … ];
- with family, friends and especially others who have expertise, with virtual interviewing programs, video role
- Seriously ! It will pay dividends.
Be honest !
- Put bluntly, astute interviewers usually have an inbuilt crap detector triggered by gut instinct, inconsistencies,
clashes with other information, impossibilities, attitude, apparent perfection [no one is perfect], … .
- Astute interviewers pick up vibes quickly. Once found - you are finished !
- Even if you manage to get through an interview, inconsistencies may still occur after you have commenced a job. Not getting a
job is less damaging than being removed for lying and/or incompetence. Your integrity is essential for this and future
positions. If questioned, your reputation may suffer for years.
- Do not restrict development of Interview Techniques to this brief article. Gather from any reliable source including those
on the Careers page and the section below.
Links to further Interview Information,
Techniques and Advice
A wealth of information can be found via the following links.
- Answers To Tough Interview
The Recruitment Alternative. Provides Good and Not So Good answers to common questions as well as providing tips.
You can also get Interview Question
Libraries for different work areas from this site by the same group [download in PDF] as well as other resources.
- Hays - Interview Techniques
A short listing of
common sense ideas for successful interviewing techniques. Links to other aspects of gaining employment.
- How to Answer
Provides an introduction and a range of sample questions with recommendations and advice on each.
- Interview Advice
to making your interview a success. Below is our interview guide which shows some of the questions that employers are likely to
ask, along with some sample answers’.
Find the good oil on doing interviews. Discover
Powerful and Effective Body Language Interview Techniques.
Multiple sections cover most
aspects from preparation to follow up. Related pages include Résumés and Cover Letters.
- Job Interviews
‘Interviews are the final hurdle.
The most critical time is the interview. It’s taken you a lot of hard work to score one … so don’t blow it
!’ Multiple sections cover the topic in great detail.
- The Essential Interview Techniques
Both Pre-interview and In the
Interview. From Leisurejobs. Information about you and the job that needs to be included.
- Seek - Interview Questions Answered
page that not only covers these but also provides links to other Interview assistance covering specific parts of the interview
- Alec’s Interview Techniques
‘Contains a vast amount of job
interview advice, including interview techniques, questions the interviewer may ask you, questions you may want to ask the
interviewer, general interview guidance, panel interview and group interview tests’.
- Bradley CVs
While there is a Fee-based service, there is a lot of
Free information about CVs and Interviews available on this site.
- General Tips and Advice
Basic information, Free
resources, Free training courses and more. Extensive range of information. UK based group. Linked with Alec’s
- Get the Job
UK based site that provides a wealth of information. There is
a good section on CVs and another on Interviews & Assessments.
- Interviews [UL]
University of Leicester Careers
Service. Find help with
Telephone Interviews, Face to
Face Interviews, other types of interviews,
typical interview questions,
Postgraduate study interview
information and more. An excellent resource, even though UK based.
- Interviewing Information
designed to help you successfully interview and get the job you want - and then negotiate the very best job offer
- Interview Techniques
Sections cover every aspect from
interview types to mock interviews, preparation, what employers are seeking and then on to all aspects of interview technique.
University of California.
- IUS - Career Services
The phases of an interview, main interview
types and interview preparation tools. Also has Dos and Don’ts, The Perfect Interview, Dress for Success and much more. A US
site so the sample interview form may be interesting but not that relevant in the Australian setting.
‘Find hundreds of online
applications and printable job forms’. There is also a range of assistance for both Interviews and Résumés to be
found on their Job Resources page.