Job interview tips
In a job interview, the employer is trying to choose the best person for the job and you're trying to prove that you are that person. You need to plan what you want to say, prepare questions, and practice answering them.
If you would like to take friends, family or whānau with you to the interview, you need to arrange this first with the person who will be interviewing you.
Preparing for your interview
Being prepared for an interview will improve your chances of getting hired. Here are some tips to help you prepare:
- have the original and spare copies of your Curriculum Vitae (CV), certificates and references in a folder
- read the job description
- find out about the company through friends, someone who works there, or the internet
- write a list of your main selling points, including skills and experience that suit the job
- practise with a friend, family member or even in front of the mirror. The more practice you have, the more relaxed you will feel
- get your clothes, notes and questions ready the night before so you won't have to rush around on the day of the interview
- know the place and time of the interview and the name of the person or persons who will be interviewing you.
Typical interview questions
Practice answering these typical employer's questions:
- Why do you want to work here?
- What interests you most about this job?
- Have you done this type of work before?
- Why should we hire you and not someone else?
- What skills and experience can you bring to this job?
- Tell me about yourself, your hobbies and other interests
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How well do you work with other people?
- What did you enjoy most about your last job?
- Why did you leave your last job?
- Why have you been unemployed for so long?
- What are your plans for the future?
- What level of wage or salary do you want?
- Who can we contact for a reference?
- When can you start?
Employers may also ask you to give examples of times when you've used particular skills, for example, problem solving, writing skills and team work. Make sure you describe the situation and task, the action you took and the results or outcomes of your action.
Questions could be:
- What made you apply for this particular job?
- How did you hear about this organisation?
- What do you know about us as an organisation?
- What do you imagine a ________ does?
- What do you see as the major issues facing our company?
- What challenges are you looking for in this position?
- Give me an example of your problem-solving style.
- What are the accomplishments/achievements that have given you the most satisfaction?
- Give me an example of how you have provided good customer service.
- Tell us of a time when you believe your communications skills were particularly good.
- What is a goal that you have set and how did you go about achieving that goal?
- Tell me about a time when you were part of a group or a team.
- Tell me about a time when you took a leadership role within a group.
Who are you? Tell us about yourself:
- Outline your personal goals for this year.
- What experience have you had working with people from other cultures?
- How would your friends describe you?
- Why did you choose your particular course?
- Why did you choose to go to university/polytech?
- What do you do for fun?
- What current issues do you feel strongly about?
While it is not a good idea to memorise what your answers will be, it is often useful to practice verbalising possible answers to these typical interview questions. The more practice you have, the more confident you will be during the interview.
Contact us if you need help preparing for interview questions.
Questions you might like to ask
Towards the end of the interview, the employer or interviewer will give you the opportunity to ask questions. Asking relevant questions about the job and the organisation is another opportunity to show the preparation you have put into the interview.
You might like to ask:
- could you tell me more about the job?
- where would I be working?
- who would I be working with?
- how big is the team I will work with?
- what is the culture of the company?
Ask about what is expected of you. Do not ask:
- about the salary, unless the employer brings up the topic first
- questions like how often or long the breaks are or how many times you can go out for a cigarette.
During the interview
Arrive a few minutes early for the interview. This will give you time to relax and feel confident.
Once the interview starts, you should try to relax, listen thoughtfully and get the employer or interviewer to like you. Be friendly, polite and most of all, be yourself.
Here are some things to remember during the interview:
- smile, make eye contact and give a firm handshake
- give a copy of your CV to the interviewer if you haven't already or they don’t have one handy
- watch your body language. avoid nervous mannerisms such as tapping your fingers or feet, biting your fingernails, playing with your hair or pens, etc.
- give clear and direct answers
- if you do not hear or understand a question ask the interviewer to repeat or re-phrase it
- tell the employer why you think you are the right person for the job
- never speak badly about a former employer.
Closing the interview
Some things to remember are:
- if you get the impression that the interview is not going well, don't let your discouragement show
- if you are interested in the position, state your interest and ask what the next steps in the process will be
- if the interviewer offers the position to you and you want it, accept on the spot, subject to viewing an employment contract
- if the interviewer offers the position to you but you want some time to think it over, be polite in telling them so and agree on a definite date when you can provide an answer
- don’t be discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary is discussed. They may want to consult with colleagues first or interview other candidates before making a decision
- thank the interviewer for their time and the opportunity to meet with them.
After the interview
You may be ready to relax after your interview, but there's a few things you should do before you put your feet up.
- Reward yourself for a job well done.
- If a work broker has sent you for the interview, tell them how the interview went. They'll want to talk with you before they call the interviewer and will appreciate your feedback. Let your work broker know if you're interested in the job or not.
- Write a thank you letter to the employer and post it on the same day to highlight your enthusiasm. You could mention something you forgot or provide any details that have been requested.
- Analyse your performance.
- Write down all the questions you were asked for future reference. Note which questions you may need to practise answering.
- Re-approach the employer when the timeframe for a decision has passed. If unsuccessful, ask for some feedback to help you with your job search or for ideas for further contacts.
- If offered the job, find out:
- the starting date, time and place
- what you need to bring e.g. proof of citizenship, IRD number, bank account number, tools, safety gear/clothes.
- look over your employment agreement. You may want to discuss the wages/salary you've been offered.
Keep applying for other jobs while you wait to hear from the employer.
Every interview is a learning experience.