Preparing for a job interview
When you get a job interview be prepared. It shows an employer you’re keen to work for them and increases your chances of securing employment.
Being prepared shows you have initiative and are motivated. Do your research on the company – showing you know about what they do and who they are might give you the edge.
Getting a job interview is an achievement. It shows that the employer wants to find out more about you. At the interview, the employer is trying to choose the best person for the job and you’re trying to prove you’re the right person. Practise what you want to say and plan what you want to ask.
Interview questions you might be asked
Every interview is different but there are some types of questions that are often asked. We’ve listed some below, so you can think about what you might say. Write your answers down and practise with a friend or someone in your family.
Prepare for questions you don’t want to be asked, for example, if you’ve ever been fired or convicted of a crime. Say briefly what happened, explain how you’ve changed or what you’d do differently now and ask for a second chance.
Typical interview questions
Why do you want to work for this organisation?
- 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 (role applied for) does?
- What do you see as the major issues facing our company?
- What challenges are you looking for in this position?
Behavioural interview questions
- 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’ve provided good customer service.
- Tell us of a time when you believe your communications skills were particularly good.
- What is a goal that you’ve 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.
Personal interview questions
- 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?
Be ready to ask your own questions
The questions you ask show that you’re interested in making sure the job is right for you. Here are some suggestions.
- What would I be doing and what would a typical day be like?
- Which tasks are the most important ones?
- How would I be trained or introduced to the job?
- How long should it take me to get up to speed?
- How many people will I be working with, what do they do?
- When would you like me to start?
If the interviewer doesn’t tell you things like wages, what hours and days you’d be working, holidays and sick leave, it’s ok to ask. We suggest you do this towards the end of the interview – after you’ve had a chance to tell the employer how suitable you would be.
- Take extra care with the way you look.
- Wear clean suitable clothes and shoes.
- Smile, shake hands firmly and look people in the eye.
- Address people as Mr, Mrs or Ms unless they say otherwise.
- Wait to be asked to sit down – be relaxed but sit upright.
- Turn your phone off before you get to the interview.
- Don’t smoke, eat, use a water bottle or chew gum.
- Try not to fiddle with your hair, clothes or pens.
- Don’t be critical of other companies or people.
Take information with you
Take your original CV, certificates and references (and spare copies), a copy of your application and any letters you’ve sent the employer – plus anything else they’ve sent you.
You can take any notes you’ve made and questions to jog your memory. It’s ok to check your notes and to write notes during the interview.
Be ready on time
Know the time and place of the interview and the name of the person who will be interviewing you (it may be more than one person). Arrive early so you have time to relax and feel confident. If you want to take family or whānau along, arrange this beforehand.
Make a good impression
The impression you create in the first few minutes is important. The employer uses your presentation to assess your attitudes, values and how you’ll fit in.
Try to relax – be friendly and polite
The interview is your chance to tell the employer why you’re the right person for the job.
It’s normal to be nervous but try to relax. Be friendly and polite and keep good eye contact. Listen carefully to questions you’re asked and give positive, honest answers. If you don’t hear or understand something, ask the interviewer to repeat it.
At the end, thank the employer for the interview and ask when they’ll make a decision.