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Preparing for your interview

Role playing is a great way to practice how you will respond to common interview questions. Practice how you will answer any questions by role playing with a friend.

During an interview you are likely to be asked common questions about why you should be chosen for the job. Prepare an answer to possible questions. Think about how you see the job, what the job needs and how your skills, abilities and qualities will meet those needs.

Don't forget that you can ask questions during an interview. Take time to find out about the job you are being interviewed for and the company itself. Show that you are really interested in the job!

Before your interview, try to find out as much as you can about the job, such as:

  • what tasks you would be performing in the job
  • information about the company
  • policies and procedures if they are on the company’s website

How to explain gaps in your employment history

If you have gaps in your employment history, here are some ways you can respond to questions about this:

  • note any study, volunteer work or other activities you completed during this period
  • stress your keenness to work
  • describe your future career goals and how the job fits into this path.

Plan your travel to the interview

It’s a good idea to plan your trip to the interview well in advance. Do a practice run so you know where you are going and how long it will take you. Make sure you allow time for traffic and transport (PMV) delays.

Plan to arrive at least 15 minutes early, so that you have some time to collect yourself and compose your thoughts. Arriving early also shows the employer that you are keen.

Attending the interview

Interviews provide employers with an opportunity to find out about you and what you know. They may involve one interviewer or several people, known as a panel interview

Being a bit nervous at an interview is normal so do your best to appear calm, friendly and confident and consider the following tips:

  • an interview starts from the first moment of contact so be aware of ‘small talk’. Be wary what you say to staff on the way in or whom you may meet in the lift or foyer
  • when arriving at an interview, introduce yourself
  • shake hands with the interviewer or each panel member when you enter the room
  • try and meet eye contact even if you are nervous
  • if you are asked a question that you are not sure about, ask the interviewer to explain or clarify the question. This shows that you are not afraid to ask questions to get things right
  • if you are not sure of how to answer a question, take a moment to think about it. Pausing is perfectly OK and shows you don’t panic under pressure
  • if you are stuck, acknowledge this and ask if you can come back to that question later in the interview when you have given more time to the best response
  • be sure in your answer and avoid using 'I might' or 'I guess'
  • when the interview is over, thank the interviewers for their time and shake hands again.

Even if you think the interview has been a disaster, be polite as it may not have been as bad as you think! If you miss out on one job, the employer could still be thinking of you for another more suitable position in the future. The more interviews you attend the better you get at performing in interviews.

After the interview

After the interview you should think about how you went at the interview. Make some notes about what happened. Think about how you can improve. For example, perhaps you were asked a really tough question and want to have an answer ready if you are asked that question again.

Ask your interviewer for feedback, if you don't get the job. Ask what you could improve on, as well as if they thought your work skills and experience were lacking in any area. This will help you with future interviews.