The Interview Guide
Obtaining an interview means that you are being seriously considered for the job. How you appear to the employer, and what you say at the interview, will have a dramatic effect on your chances.
Follow these tips, along with the advice provided by our Employment Consultant, to give you the best possible advantage at the interview.
As soon as you find out about the interview:
- Work out how long it will take to get there, making allowances for traffic. Check out a road map so that you know exactly how to find the address, and if you are using public transport check the timetables.
- Research the company. Employers are constantly amazed at the number of applicants that know absolutely nothing, especially when it is very easy to find out the basic information. An easy way is to search online – this will provide lots of information, including what the company does or produces and the locations of their factories, offices or stores.
- If you have time, go and have a look at the premises. Even from the outside you can get a good idea of their size, how many people they might employ (3, or 30, or 300), and what is sold or made.
- Be well prepared for questions that employers may ask of you. Practice these answers – ask a friend or relative to listen to your response before the interview.
- Organise all your relevant documents. This can be a vinyl folder with clear plastic pockets containing a photocopy of your resume, school reports, certificates, any special awards or certificate of merit, references, anything else which you think might help you get the job. Also take a copy of your application form or letter.
The night before:
- Work out exactly what you are going to wear so that you do not have to rush in the morning.
- Remember to make sure that what you plan to wear is appropriate for the position you are being considered for – your Employment Consultant will assist you with this. Remember that many employers are not up with the latest fashions, and some businesses require a more conservative look as this is what customers and clients expect. Above all, your clothes must be neat, clean and pressed.
- Have a good night’s sleep so that you are fresh in the morning.
On the day:
- Before leaving home, read through your resume and research notes; make sure that you are well prepared.
- Get someone to check your appearance, making sure that you look tidy and well presented.
- Check your fingernails, shoes (don’t wear sneakers) and hair.
- Have one last look in the mirror; you need to feel good about yourself.
- Put a smile on your face and give the impression of being friendly.
- Arrive with time to spare. Employers hate it when people are late to an interview.
- Announce your arrival to the receptionist, or whoever is organising the interviews. This could be part of the interview and you could be under scrutiny from the time you arrive.
- Greet the interviewer, and shake their hand firmly.
- Enter the interviewer’s office. Do not sit until invited to do so.
In the interview:
- An interview should be as formal as being a guest in someone’s home.
- Make good eye contact.
- Listen carefully. Remember to smile.
- Answer the questions in detail – usually about one or two minutes is plenty. Avoid ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers.
- Don’t ever make bad remarks about past employers.
- Offer to show your resume folder to the employer. If you have managed to get some pamphlets, newspaper items or an annual report about the company, put them in as well.
- Ask your questions (some ideas are below).
- Do not smoke, no matter what.
- Do not accept offers of tea or coffee – you will have enough to think about without balancing a hot drink as well.
- Be aware of your language – don’t use slang. Remember to smile.
- Be aware of any annoying habits or distractions, such as playing with your hair or fidgeting.
Ending the interview:
- Briefly summarise your experience, or skills and qualifications.
- Tell the interviewer you are interested in the job. Most people don’t do this – it can make a real difference.
- Thank the employer for the interview. Remember to smile.
- Find out when the decision will be made, and how you will be notified.
- Wait for the interviewer to close the interview.
After the interview:
- Call your Employment Consultant as soon as possible and tell them how the interview went. This is very important as the employer may contact us for more information.
Some questions an employer may ask you:
- There are excellent promotion opportunities for somebody prepared to work in this organisation. What are your career goals?
- What do you consider to be some of the special qualifications you have for this position?
- What do you consider to be the advantages/disadvantages in team work?
- What do you consider to be your strong points in communication with others?
- What techniques do you use to plan and organise your work each day?
- How do you feel about taking responsibility?
- Why have you applied for this particular position?
- Are you planning to do further study?
Some questions you could ask:
- What does the job actually involve?
- Could you tell me more about the company?
- Would I be working with other people or by myself?
- What are the plans for the company in the future?
- What are the dress requirements?
- What safety requirements are there? (especially for industrial employers)
- What shift times are there? Is overtime worked?
- What training is available?
- Will there be a medical examination required?
Remember to be honest in your answers, and to be enthusiastic and interested throughout the interview. And don’t forget to smile.
Following an interview:
Your Employment Consultant will contact you to notify if you have been successful in the position you have applied for.
You may have some unanswered questions which your Employment Consultant can assist you with:
- When should / shouldn’t you contact an employer?
- How is the offer of employment accepted?
- How can you negotiate salary/conditions of employment?
- When do you do this?
- What is the commencement date etc?
If you do not get the job, take the approach that you are willing to learn how to improve your interview performance by asking the interviewer for suggestions or feedback regarding your interview. You may suggest to the interviewer that you are willing to be considered for any other vacancies. Don’t be discouraged, because you will have learnt something from that interview and will be able to use it to help yourself in the future. Remember, if the person they chose is the wrong one – you may be asked to return, even six months later! This may depend on how you handle your ‘rejection’.