Top tips for a successful job interview

Whether it’s in person or remote, give yourself the best chance to succeed in a job interview by using reliable and effective techniques. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you nail your job interview!

Research and prepare to be effective in your interview

Familiarise yourself with the job description before the interview. Research the company’s website and social media platforms so you understand what they do and how they conduct business. Apply this knowledge when explaining why the job suits you. While researching, jot down a list of ways that your skills and experience will benefit the company.

Create a good elevator pitch

One of the most common interview questions is “Tell us a bit about yourself”, or variations on the theme. It’s good to be prepared with an elevator pitch which you can tailor to the moment. This is a brief, informative summary of your background, experience, and interests. Keep it short and sweet, to around 30 seconds long. It can create a good first impression when delivered confidently.

Be on time

Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early to allow extra time for potential delays. This gives you the opportunity to think about what you have prepared for and to remain focused.

Memorise your CV

Know your CV inside out, check that the format and wording is perfect. It is important that any information you give in the interview matches your CV. You don’t want interviewers questioning the validity of your information.

Research questions the employer may ask

Employers apply various tactics and questioning styles differ. Monitoring how quickly applicants adapt is a common tactic, so prepare for questions that may seem surprising. Generally, questions will be on qualifications, knowledge, experience and how you will fit the vacancy. Increasingly, employers ask questions that will give them an idea of your work ethic and how you’d fit into the company culture.

How to answer tricky interview questions

Prospective employers looking to fill senior roles may ask about your strengths and weaknesses. Have a few of these written down just in case.

Weaknesses can be tricky. Don’t get into handwringing or be overly critical. This is your opportunity to turn a perceived weakness into a strength. For example, you may be inexperienced with a specific software or skill required. Turn it into an opportunity to show how you have or would overcome this such as extra training courses in your spare time.

    • Do not use words like “failure” or “inept”
    • Emphasise the positives
    • Do not say you don’t have any weaknesses
    • Show self-awareness and a willingness to improve

Effective interview techniques

The STAR interview technique

A structural framework useful for answering behavioural type questions, STAR is designed for a story-type answer that includes relevant information from start to finish. It stands for the following:

Situation – Briefly explain a situation that you previously encountered.

Task – Refer to the task or responsibility in the scenario.

Action – Outline steps taken in dealing or reacting to the situation.

Result – List the outcomes that resulted.

Here’s an example: “Tell me about when you overcame a difficult problem.”

S: I was working on a construction project with an approaching deadline when two members of the assigned team were booked off due to illness.

T: We were now short staffed and needed to come up with a way to keep the project on track without two key team members.

A: I suggested that each team member spend an extra two hours on the job that evening so that we would keep to schedule.

R: Everyone agreed to this as it was a busy time for us and, after committing the extra time, we ultimately completed the job on time.

 

Visualise the interview

In a sense, the interview begins once you enter the building. It’s normal to be nervous. Visualise the scene and opening conversations to help control nerves. Common preparation techniques are practicing questions in front of the mirror or performing a mock interview.

Tips and advice to help during an interview

What to wear to a job interview

You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. Wear respectable clothes in an interview to give a neat look. Make sure you are comfortable in what you wear and that it makes you feel confident. Interviewers will look at your feet too so make sure that your shoes are clean.

Show confidence in an interview

Greet the interviewer with a handshake and a genuine smile. Speak clearly and audibly in the interview to convey confidence. Keep your sentences concise and avoid rambling to ensure it doesn’t look like you are lacking concentration or understanding of the question asked.

Make eye contact

Making eye contact is professional and will create a feeling of trust. Avoid looking around the room or to the ground because it indicates you may be nervous or distracted. Sit upright to show you are interested and listening.

Have questions prepared

Ask some questions that show knowledge of and interest in the company. This indicates you are thinking about the role and preparing to adapt.

Bring a notepad and reliable pen with you

You’re trying to convey the best version of yourself to the interviewer so taking notes shows interest, organisation skills and that you are listening.

Know your worth

Check out ballpark salaries for similar roles and understand the experience you have. Your prospective employer needs to gauge your expectations and vice versa. Potential earnings can be discussed without feeling awkward or uncomfortable if you are prepared before the interview.

How to prepare for a remote interview

  • Don’t wear overly bright clothes, stripes, or bold patterns, it may the affect cameras and be distracting.
  • Avoid using hand gestures. It may look wavy or blurry on screen. Perhaps, hold a pen on your knees to avoid any temptation to gesticulate.
  • Make sure the background looks neat and tidy. It’s a good idea to do a camera test for this to see what will appear on the screen.
  • Set up in a quiet area with a secure connection.
  • Check your equipment is working and that your internet is powerful enough for a video call.

How to follow up on an interview

Your interviewer will usually give you a feedback time frame or indicate the next steps in the process. You can also show your interest and initiative in the following ways:

    • Send an email of thanks to show them you are still interested.
    • Be concise, use first names and mention you look forward to hearing from them.
    • Be patient after the email is sent, your part is now done.
    • Don’t dwell too much on something out of your control. Don’t make multiple enquiries which may sound desperate.

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