Job Interview Tips and Interview Questions

Now that you’ve got the job interview, here are our tips on how to land the job.

Be Prepared

A job interview is not the time to wing it so prepare as much as you would for an important work or academic presentation. Making it all up on the spot can make you look unorganised and unconfident.
Make sure you take your cover letter, résumé (including your contact details) and any other relevant information. For example, if you are going for a creative job it’s a good idea to bring a folio of your work.
Almost always, interviews will involve a number of questions and it is important to be prepared to answer them. Researching the job you are applying for is a great way to prepare for the questions you might be answering and will give you an idea of who they are looking for and what qualities this person should possess. This will help you craft responses that are suited to the job you are applying for.
Also research the company, itself. Researching the company will help you understand how they operate or what work they are involved with will show that you are thorough but also enthusiastic about possibly being involved.

Don’t forget to look below at our list of Common Interview Questions and Best Answers

Be Punctual

Employers are often looking for workers who are organised and reliable. Running late or even missing an interview is one of the quickest ways to offend an employer and you may miss out on the job as a result.
Being on time or even 10 minutes early shows that you are organised. Running late, even with a good excuse, gives off an impression of someone who is unorganised and may not handle time effectively. If you are running late make sure you contact the interviewer and let them know and if you are unable to attend the interview try to reschedule. Always try and leave half an hour earlier for a job interview, just in case.
If due to reasons out of your control, you were running late or missed the interview and as a result you have missed out on the job, stay positive and don’t get discouraged. There will be other opportunities.

Make a Good Impression

Often an interview is the company’s first face-to-face meeting with you and it’s very important to give off the right impression, both inside and out.
Employers may conduct hundreds of interviews over their career and they are very good at judging if someone is uncomfortable or anxious. Be professional, enthusiastic, friendly and outgoing but most of all be confident in yourself. If you don’t believe you deserve the job, neither will the employer.
Likewise, how you dress and present yourself are other ways that you can give the right, or wrong, impression. For job interviews you should always dress in a professional, appropriate manner but you should dress in a way that matches the workplace you are applying for. For example, if your applying for a job as a lawyer a suit and tie would be appropriate but if you are applying for a job as a mechanic you may need to dress less formal so do some research to find out what the dress code of the work place is.

In general, avoid wearing clothes that are:

  • Too short
  • Too loose or too tight (Ill-fitting)
  • Too revealing
  • Overly bright or too colourful
  • Too flashy (brand names, lots of jewellery)
  • Dirty
  • Ripped

Also avoid wearing too much make-up, perfume or cologne.

Be a part of the conversation

Consider an interview as an open conversation. You will often be expected to answer the questions of the employer but there is nothing wrong with asking some questions or having a discussion with them. This shows confidence and will help you stand out from the crowd.
Always answer in a clear voice and keep your responses detailed but brief. Be confident in your answers as being overly nervous or stressed can show that you don’t handle pressure well.
When answering questions give detailed but brief responses and try and avoid answering yes or no. Try and keep the conversation flowing and it will feel more comfortable for both you and the employer. Being able to talk with confidence during an interview shows that you work well under pressure and are friendly and outgoing. Don’t forget when answering questions try to use relevant examples. It will show that you can think on your feet and it will help the interviewer better understand your points.
Try and avoid rambling on as it can show that you are disorganised. Generally, aim to keep your responses to less than 2 minutes to avoid the interviewer getting bored or distracted. You want short, sharp responses that the interviewer will remember.
Also, avoid talking about personal topics such as health, relationships, spirituality, personal opinions or money as it may make the interviewer uncomfortable. Keep the conversation relevant to the job you are applying for.
And don’t be afraid to ask some questions of your own, about the company’s work, values or history. Employers will appreciate your initiative and enjoy being focused on for a change.

Be positive about previous work

Positive people tend to attract positive energy and the same can be said for negative people. Always give a positive impression during an interview and it will make a big difference.
If you are looking for a job, there is a chance that you may also be leaving another so often employers may ask you about this and it is important to have a careful response. Even if you were unfairly treated, fired or had a disagreement with your workplace, always speak about previous work with a positive attitude. Bad-mouthing previous employers, companies or co-workers shows disrespect, a negative attitude and suggests that you are not accountable for your actions and looking for someone else to blame. It may make the employer feel, that right given the circumstance, you would bad-mouth them too.
Likewise, being generally negative will make the interviewer uncomfortable and suggests that you will not be a good person to work with. You want to give an impression of being a good worker but also someone who is easy to work with and will not create unnecessary tension.

Be Yourself

In many interviews you will be asked to describe yourself and this can be difficult to do as it feels that they are judging you as a person as opposed to as a worker. Employers often do this as they want a good worker but they also want someone who is easy to get along with, especially if working in a team.
Most importantly, never lie about yourself. If you say you are incredibly organised but in reality you are messy and lazy, they will eventually realise that you haven’t been completely honest and it will not be appreciated. Rather focus on your better qualities and avoid discussing your weaker points. For example, if you are disorganised but a hard-worker, focus on your ability to work long hours or your ability to work flexible hours or weekends.
If you do need to discuss you weaker points try and add a positive spin on them, for example, if you say that you are disorganised also say that you are working on being more organised by using a weekly planner. This shows initiative and that you are someone who can respond to criticism and work to improve themself.
Always be yourself in an interview but be the most refined version of yourself. Be confident but not arrogant, be fun but not inappropriate and be honest but not rude.

Common Interview Questions (and Our Answers)

We all know job interviews can be scary. You never know what they might ask you or what topics might come up. You can never predict what the employer will ask but you can practice using these common interview questions. Whether, creating responses on your own or role-playing with a friend or family member, these questions will help you get used to responding on the spot so practice your responses and then see ours.

What is your Greatest Strength?
This is very common interview question and is used to assess whether you would be an asset in the workplace. When responding, try to focus on a strength that is relevant to the job you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a job as a nurse you greatest strength could be empathy or that you are caring. Suggesting that your greatest strength is playing Mario Kart might be true but it will not benefit your nursing career in any way so it is better to leave it out.
What is your Greatest Weakness?
This question is similar to the last one, except they are now examining whether you may be a liability to the workplace. When responding, be honest but be controlled. Whatever weakness you respond with try and put a positive spin on it and if it is a weakness that is serious try and downplay it. For example, if you are very disorganised suggest that you are “sometimes” disorganised but you are working on it by using a planner and to-do lists. This answer shows that you are accountable for your flaws and that you are working on improving them.
How do you Handle Stress and Pressure?
Again it is best to be honest but controlled. If you are a person who does get easily stressed out or can’t handle pressure well, don’t lie. Eventually when you have a situation you can’t handle and you’ll come across as dishonest. Suggest that you can “sometimes” get stressed out but that you try and prevent it by being more organised.If you are someone who handles stress and pressure well, this is your time to shine. Give them an example of a time where you handled yourself well in trying circumstances and they will see that you are in control.
Describe a Difficult Work Situation and How you Overcame it.
Here they’re asking for a specific example, which may be hard to answer if you don’t have experience. If this is the case, just explain to them that you are new to the workforce and then briefly explain a time at school or university where you dealt with a difficult situation. Always keep the answer brief and avoid mentioning examples from your personal life. If you do have an example form the workplace then tell them but keep it brief and professional. Complaining for 20 minutes about a co-worker who was lazy so you yelled at them will make you look rude and unprofessional. However, explaining that you had a co-worker who you felt wasn’t pulling their weight on a project so you expressed these feelings to your boss in a polite manner looks much more professional.
How do you Evaluate Success?
This question requires a highly personal interpretation and can be difficult to answer. However, try and match it to the level of success you believe you are capable of achieving in this job. For example, don’t answer, “success is never ever failing” if you think you may struggle from time to time because you are giving them an expectation you may not be able to fill. An answer like “always trying my best no matter what” may be more appropriate.
Why are you Leaving or Have you Left your Job?
This is a really tough question because how you left or how you’re leaving a current job can tell them a lot about the type of employee you are so again be honest but controlled. Using vague but honest answers such as “I needed a fresh start”, “I wanted to do something different” or “unfortunately, it didn’t work out” are all ways to answer truthfully but without being too specific. Even if your last job ended on bad terms and even if it wasn’t your fault don’t ever bad-mouth the organisation, your employers or your co-workers. It comes across as disrespectful and petty.
Why do you Want this Job?
If you are applying for a job you are really passionate about show them how much you care and give examples when you can. For example, if you want to be a zookeeper explain how much you love animals and then briefly tell them about your pet dog and birds. This shows how much you care about the job, is personal to you and also memorable. However, we all sometimes work in jobs we’re not passionate about and if it’s a job you are doing just for money then it can be much harder to explain why you want to be there without saying “money” and looking rude. Answers like “learning new skills”, “meeting new people” and “gaining some experience” can all be answers that are much nicer for an employer to hear and are applicable to most workplaces. Again be honest but controlled.
Why Should we Hire you?
This is a time where you can emphasise your best skills, relevant to the workplace but don’t just list attributes that anyone could have. With confidence explain why you think you’re the best for the job but make it personal. You want them to think that YOU are the one for this job, no one else. For example, rather than saying, “I’m friendly and I have computer skills” you can say “I believe I have the computer skills to help you with your new web development project and I’m friendly so I think I will fit into this workplace well”.
What are your Goals for the Future?
If you are applying for a job that you hope will be the start of a long, interesting career then tell them what you hope to achieve. This career might be undertaken at this workplace so they will love to hear about your commitment and ambition both to your own dreams and the success of the workplace. However, if you cannot see yourself being in this position long-term again be honest but controlled. Don’t lie by saying “I hope to work here for the next 30 years” but don’t be too honest by saying “I’m just working here until I can save enough money for my trip to Europe and then I’ll quit”. An answer such as “I’m not really sure at this stage but I look forward to a new work experience” is vague but honest.
Tell me About Yourself.
This can be one of the toughest to answer, as you want to tell them who you are but also keep it consistent with the job you are applying for. You also want to give them a strong idea of who you are but you don’t want to ramble on, so include details that are relevant to the job you are applying for and leave out ones that directly oppose the job. For example, you can say that you play on a local soccer team if you’re applying for a job as a personal trainer as it shows you enjoy being active and healthy. Saying that you enjoy eating junk food on the couch while watching TV may be true but it is less fitting to a personal training position. Also include 3-4 traits that you think best reflect you in a positive light, such as confident, friendly and energetic. Basically, you want to give a snapshot of yourself that reflects who you are but also why you are suited to this job.