Attending the job interview

Be prepared

Before the interview, ensure that you have all the details you’ll need. Note the start and finish times, date and place of the interview, and contact the organisation to find out the names and titles of your interviewers and how the interview will be structured. It’s also a good idea to make sure you have a contact number, just in case you are delayed or something unexpected happens.

Look professional and well groomed

First impressions are important. Research the company’s dress code and make sure you meet or exceed the standard. Dressing well shows you are serious about the job.

For most interviews, you’ll need to wear conservative corporate clothing. Normally, you dress more formally for an interview than you do as an employee:

  • make sure your clothes are pressed and clean
  • limit your aftershave/perfume and jewellery (including piercings)
  • if you identity as a male, wear a tie.

Demonstrate professionalism

Before the day of the interview, make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take you. Aim to arrive about 10 minutes early. This way you’ll have time to sit and collect your thoughts before the interview begins.

Avoid distractions

Turn off your mobile phone or switch it to silent mode before you arrive.

Be polite and attentive

Be polite and courteous to everyone you meet during the interview, from the moment you enter the building to the moment you leave.

Be aware of body language

Body language is important. Research has suggested that your non-verbal communication or body language makes up over 75 per cent of your overall communication.

At the start of the interview, offer those interviewing you a firm handshake. During the interview, demonstrate good posture, sit up straight, rest your hands in your lap and maintain eye contact with your interviewers. This demonstrates interest and alertness.

Take notes

Always make sure you take a few relevant notes during the interview. This will convey a professional image, and the information can be used in any follow-up interviews.

Answer questions thoughtfully

Listen to the whole question

Don’t start answering questions in your mind before they are finished. Take a few moments to think about your answer. It’s fine to ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question. When you answer, ensure your tone and language convey your enthusiasm.

Always answer honestly

If you’ve been honest in your application, you are there because the employer believes you may be suitable for the job.

Handle inappropriate questions professionally

Not all interviewers are aware of questions they are not supposed to ask. For example, they shouldn’t ask about your age, religion, ethnic background, marital status or gender, because none of those matters are relevant to your ability to do the job. If asked those types of questions:

  • politely ask why they are interested or why they think the question is relevant
  • try to work out what their real concern is, and respond to that.

Ask insightful questions

Asking questions during an interview is a great opportunity to show an employer that you are genuinely interested. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate that you have the skills, knowledge and experience to excel within the organisation.

Prepare a list of questions

Try not to ask questions that could have been answered by doing some basic desktop research before the interview. Insightful questions show you are serious about the role and have done your homework. Questions that show you have done some research will be looked on positively.

Typical questions you might ask are:

  • How do you measure an employee’s success in your organisation?
  • In what ways do you support staff in their continuing education?
  • What areas does your organisation prioritise in professional development?
  • What are the three most important things you would like me to accomplish if I came into this role?
  • I saw in the newspaper that your CEO is committed to corporate social responsibility. What are the effects of this on the culture of the organisation?

End the interview on a positive note

Usually employers will tell you what the next steps are in the selection process. If not, ask what the next steps are and how you will be notified.

At the end of the interview, restate your interest in, and suitability for, the role. Smile and thank the interviewers for seeing you.

Resources

How to interview well workshops and information