Preparation

The better you are prepared the more confident and relaxed you will be at your interview.

Make sure you know:

  • The exact time (you should arrive a little early)
  • The location and how to get there
  • The interviewer’s name and title

Some other important points

  • Appearance is very important – dress smartly and appropriately.
  • Find out as much as you can about the company beforehand – the Internet can be very useful for this.
  • Good research can impress the interviewer with your seriousness about joining the company.
  • Think about questions you would like to ask – most interviewers will give time for this and your questions should be relevant and well thought out.

Questions

Interviewers want to get to know you, and they will ask you questions, which are designed to reveal your character. They are looking for qualities such as reliability, initiative, confidence, communication, flexibility and independence. You should try to answer questions fully, but make sure you keep to the point. Be honest, and if you don’t have an opinion, say so. It is important to be prepared, but don’t rehearse too much, or your responses will sound insincere.

These are some of the things the interview may ask you about:

Yourself

Often the interviewer will begin by simply asking you to speak about yourself. For them it is a chance to hear you to talk and break the ice, for you it is an opportunity to summarise your qualifications, career and abilities, and emphasise those skills related to the position you are applying for. Keep to points which are relevant do not digress into unnecessary personal details and do not talk for more than four or five minutes.

Your career

The interviewer may ask you if you are happy with your career so far. You should always give a positive response – they want to know how you view yourself, to gauge your self-esteem and confidence, you can qualify your answer if you feel, for example, that your career is moving too slowly, but most importantly you want to appear as a positive, successful person.

Achievements

You want to give the interviewer the sense that you are an achiever. Be ready to describe a fairly recent, work-related, identifying the skills it demanded and its benefit to the company.

Strengths and weaknesses

  • You should be able to speak about both in a straightforward and honest way, communicating a good level of self-awareness and objectivity to the interviewer.
  • You should discuss three or four of your strengths, such as technical abilities and personal qualities, and how they could benefit the employer, giving examples.
  • Speak about a professional and your willingness to change and improve. Avoid trivial personal weaknesses.

Likes and dislikes

If the interviewer asks you about your personal likes and dislikes, for example in your present job, answer with caution. You do not want to say you dislike a task, which may turn out to be crucial to the job you are applying for or draw attention to weaknesses. Keep to ‘safe’ general topics, such as issues related to the size of your present company.

Reasons for leaving your current job

You should be prepared with a straightforward and positive response to this question, greater challenges, more responsibility, further experience and a change of environment are all good motivations for leaving, and will make a better impression than negative or financial reasons.

Interviewers may also ask about…

  • Your long-term career aspiration
  • Your expectations from a company
  • How your colleagues would describe you
  • Why you should get the job over someone else
  • How you feel about working long hours or weekends
  • Whether you prefer working alone or in a team
  • Work-related awards you have received
  • Recent courses or training your have completed

At the end of the interview you should feel confident that you have communicated all the interviewer needs to know about yourself and your abilities, and have asked any questions you have. Ask the interviewer what the next steps – this shows your interest in the positions.