Interview basics

An Overview

The purpose of an interview is to determine if your skills, abilities, experience, and character will fit the position and company you are interviewing with, and also to give you the chance to see if the opportunity on offer is the right one for you. It is important to always make a good impression and appear positive about the job, the company, and about yourself. If you are eventually offered the job, you can always turn it down, but will have no choice if they reject you first.

Before the Interview

  • Do your research. Find out as much as you can about the company you are interviewing with – check the newspapers, visit their home page, and look at their reviews on job sites. A good basic understanding of a company indicates strong interest and shows enthusiasm while a complete lack of knowledge indicates the opposite.
  • Think of some interesting and relevant questions to ask the interviewer.
  • Prepare answers to questions you think you maybe asked – see our Interview questions page for a detailed list of likely questions.

At the Start of an Interview

  • Make an effort regarding your appearance and personal presentation. Look sharp. Go into the interview with a positive attitude.
  • Refrain from smoking, even if offered, both before and during the interview.
  • Take a clean copy of your resume, especially if you originally applied by mail, fax,or email.
  • Have a strong confident handshake.
  • Maintain comfortable eye contact.
  • If you are asked to fill out any forms, take your time, and ensure you complete them in full and accurately.
  • If there is a test, ensure you understand the instructions completely and use only permitted materials. If unsure, ask.
  • Be prepared – learn from your past interviews and study up for this one.

During the Interview

  • Be positive. Be enthusiastic. Be interested. Be calm.
  • Express yourself clearly and do not mumble or use jargon your interviewer may not understand.
  • If you are not sure or did not understand the question, ask the interviewer to repeat the question. If you are still not sure, repeat what you think they said and then answer. Never guess what you think you are asked as this can lead to confusing and uncomfortable situations.
  • Answer questions succinctly and do not ramble. Give definitive answers. Try not to give one word answers, but be concise (try to limit answers to two minutes). Ideally, the discussion should be 50% interviewer, 50% applicant.
  • Never complain about your current or past employers and try to keep your answers positive and upbeat.
  • Ask questions about the job, the company, and its future plans. Try not to ask question about holidays, working hours, or benefits until at least the second interview.
  • Do not raise the issue of money. If asked, say that you are interested in the position and the company. If asked to name a salary figure, mention what you currently or previously earned and express your willingness to accept a reasonable offer.
  • Toward the end of the interview ask the interviewer if he/she would like to clarify anything about what has been said or about your background, then answer truthfully and honestly.

At the end of the interview

  • At the end of the interview, thank the interviewer for the opportunity to meet with them, express a strong interest in the position, and ask what the next step is.
  • Remember to shake hands again before leaving.
  • Wait until you are out of sight and earshot from the building before showing any further reaction or telephoning anyone to discuss what happened.

After the interview

  • Make a note of the questions you were asked – they may come up again.
  • Think about your replies. Could you have answered better or in a different way?
  • If you did not have an answer or didn’t understand a question, ensure you investigate everything about that particular question to gain full understanding for when it may come up again.
  • Incorporate any feedback into your interview preparation for next time – often there are only one or two points separating the successful candidate from the runner up and what you have learned could make a difference.