Preparation

If you are well prepared for an interview, you will be more confident. Careful preparation will help you to be more relaxed, able to talk about your skills and experience, and answer questions.

The first thing to do is to let the employer know that you will come to the interview. The employer’s letter or email will tell you how to do this – usually by phone or email.

Find out about the employer

Try to find out as much as you can about the company or organisation. Look on their website, speak to people you know, go to the library, and read local newspapers or business sites on the internet.

Here are some things to find out about:

  • What products or services does the employer offer?
  • Who are their customers? (this could be people or other organisations)
  • Are they part of a larger organisation or a group of companies?
  • How many people work for them?
  • Who are their competitors – other organisations or companies that do the same thing?
  • How are they affected by things that are happening at the moment? (for example, the recession, changes in your area, changes throughout the world)

Tests

You might have to do a test as part of the interview. This may be to test your reactions, speed and manual skills; or it could be more like a written exam to test your communication or number skills, problem-solving, and so on. If you know the type of test before the interview, you could spend time practising similar exercises. You could ask your teacher or careers adviser (if you have one) about tests and books to read.

Tip

Make a list of examples that show you are the right person for the job.

Think about how you fit the job

Look at any information you have about the job (advert, job description, and so on). Also look at the job application and anything else you sent to the employer – CV, application form, or letter/email. Make sure you take copies of these things to the interview.

At the interview the employer will ask you questions. They will want to know more about you and the things you have said in your application. You could make a list of skills, qualities and achievements needed in the job. Next to that list, write down some examples of things you have done that show you are the right person for the job. See an example list about matching skills, qualities, and achievements.

Questions

Prepare answers to typical questions you might be asked, for example:

  • What can you tell us about yourself?
  • Why do you want to be a...?
  • What can you offer us? / Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you see yourself doing in 5–10 years’ time?
  • What are your hobbies/interests?
  • What do you consider your greatest strength and weakness?
  • What is your greatest achievement?

These are just a few examples. Each time you are invited for an interview, think about these and any other questions you might be asked. The most important thing is to try and link what you say to what is needed in the job. Make notes of possible questions and your answers and read them again before the interview.

At the interview you might also get a chance to ask questions about the job or the employer. So prepare three or four questions about things you want to know. But remember that this is still part of your interview, so ask questions that show that you are keen and motivated. For example, you might ask what training you will get. It is probably not a good idea to ask whether people go out socialising after work.

If possible practise doing an interview with someone, such as a teacher, careers adviser, or a relative. For a telephone interview, do your practice over the phone.

Useful websites

Here are some internet links to help with interview questions:

What will they ask – Interview questions and tips
This website has lists of questions that may be asked at job interviews in different job sectors, including sales, business admin, and IT.
Australia’s careers online
This Australian website also has lots of information about answering questions, including lists of example questions.

Last updated 13 November, 2014