Tips for the perfect job interview

If you’re an interview away from landing your dream job, use these tips to prepare yourself and bring out your best side when you’re face to face with the interviewer.

If the invitation “tell me about yourself” makes you bluster or babble, it needn’t. Even if being interviewed doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s a process anyone can master – with preparation and practice.

Nerves often hijack a job-seeker before they’ve had a chance to shine. One way to conquer those nerves is to break down a job interview into four stages, see interview tips listed below:

Overview of interview tips

Breakdown an interview into four stages: preparation, logistics, managing and review.

Prepare well ahead of time; logistics on the day; managing the interview itself; and reviewing your performance immediately after the interview, noting responses you could improve upon.

Put in the hours in advance – digging out examples to show how you suit the job, how you overcame a difficult situation, or helped a team pull together.

Find out more about the company than you can read on the website; example speaking to employees, or catching up on news reports.

Many questions can be anticipated – try Googling “common interview questions”.

Practise on sympathetic ears and ask for feedback, if you are brave enough, make a video and review it until you sound confident. Mock interviews help; practise your answers until you have them down to a tight, structured two or three minutes.

On the day, it’s all about logistics. Get there early, review your prepared answers and CV, and ensure what you wear is appropriate and makes you feel good.

Interviewing is a two-way process. One way to distinguish yourself is to ask interesting questions – and being able to say why you want to work for the company.”

When nervous, interviewees tend to speak too quickly and ramble; deep breaths will slow speech down. Ensure your body language matches what you are saying – if you are talking about something that inspires you, for instance, don’t use a dull monotone.

If there is something that could affect how you perform during an interview and you want to disclose that, you can do so at any stage in the application or interview.

While employers can teach employees technical skills, they can’t teach the social skills involved in working in a team. But the ability to collaborate and fit in socially is critical. People forget that companies are social communities.

Often applicants feel they need to present themselves these days as the perfect match and be too bullish about their own strengths. But talking about how you have learnt from mistakes can be more honest and appealing.

Resume tips & techniques

The aim is to have your resume at the top of the pile! Why should you have a resume? A resume is probably the most important tool you have to sell yourself to a future employer; it summarises your work history, skills and experience in the best possible light.

It’s not just a list of your past jobs; a resume is about how you performed in those positions, what you learned and what you accomplished. You have about 30 seconds to get the attention of the employer before they decide whether to throw your resume in the bin.

How do you create a resume that gives you every chance of success? Below are some tips to help you along the way.

How to get it right

  • Keep your resume concise and factual employers love facts and figures. Try to keep your resume to no more than four pages.
  • Use action words such as achieved, compiled, developed, managed and prioritised.
  • Be honest and do not bend the truth – you will always get caught.
  • Check thoroughly for grammar and spelling mistakes – get someone to proof read it for you.
  • Use a standard font and it must be black.
  • Use a simple and well-formatted layout.
  • Use a generic personal email address such as
  • Ensure your LinkedIn profile matches your resume, as clients will cross check. If you do not have a LinkedIn page, create one. Use a photo on your profile that is professional, not personal. LinkedIn is a professional social networking tool, not a personal one.
  • Clean up your facebook page. Do not have information, posts or photos that could hinder your chances of getting a new job. Your new employer could check your page.

What to avoid

  • Do not use your work email as your contact details. Employers or Recruiters may not want to communicate with you via a work email address. When you create a personal web based email address such as yahoo, gmail or hotmail, ensure that you keep your address professional – remember who the audience is reading it.
  • Do not be vague or unclear.
  • Do not write about inappropriate or unnecessary personal experiences.
  • Do not include reasons why you left your previous roles.
  • Do not use personal pronouns such as “I” or “me”.

Resume layout

  • Personal details include details such as full name, address, contact details, both email and telephone.
  • Education/qualifications include Tertiary Qualifications through Universities and/or Tafe, private courses, or industry relevant qualifications.
  • Employment history include headings such as Employer, Position and Duration of Employment. Ideally in bullet form, list your key responsibilities, tasks, major projects and any significant achievements (remember to use action words). Be sure to list your most current employment first.
  • References list a minimum of two referees/references. Include their name, position title, employer, contact details and explain the relationship between you and the referee. It is best to ask permission before listing someone as a reference.

Before the interview

Research the company by reviewing their website and any company literature. By doing this you are demonstrating that you have taken the time to understand the core function of the company.

Have a couple of questions prepared to ask about the company.

Plan your journey – establish the location of company, parking and how to get there. Be at least 5 minutes early but no more than 10 minutes early.

Ensure you are presented in a professional manner with a clean/pressed suit or smart jacket with skirt or trousers. No leather or denim. Ensure neck lines are appropriate and if you are wearing a skirt ensure the length is suitable. Makeup, jewellery and perfume should be kept to a minimum and facial jewellery should be removed.

What to take to the interview – take a copy of qualifications, certificates and any other relevant material. Your consultant will provide the client with references.

Questions you may ask at an interview

  • What are your expectations of the person who takes this role?
  • Are there other skills that may be required in the future?
  • What is the office/team culture like?

During the interview

Always remember to switch off mobile phones before entering the interview. If you forget and your phone rings during the interview do not under any circumstance answer the call. Switch the phone off and apologise to the interviewer for the interruption.

Regardless of the environment, do not under any circumstance use profanities or slang words. Be professional in your speech and manner.

Create a good first impression, on average you have approximately 30 seconds to impress.

Smile – it is natural to be nervous during an interview but do remember to smile.

Always give a firm handshake on introduction.

Maintain natural eye contact with the interviewer and remain attentive throughout the process.

Sit comfortably with both feet on the floor or cross legged. Put hand bags on the ground and maintain an open body language. Playing with your hair or putting your hands in your pocket creates a poor impression. Never over exaggerate using your hands or sit with your arms crossed.

Do not look at the time – If you are on a time limit, inform the interviewer when you first arrive. Looking at the wall clock or watch during an interview will be regarded as rude behaviour.

Be genuinely interested in the company and the role; concentrate on the interview – nothing else. If you are well organised and have planned for the interview your confidence will naturally increase.

Never give negative comments or criticism of a former employer during the interview; this will make you appear unprofessional.

Don’t discuss salary – Your consultant will discuss salary levels with you and what the role is paying. Unless the interviewer brings up the subject this is not a topic for discussion during the preliminary interview. If the interviewer does mention salary, be prepared to ask for what you want.

Be honest – speak up when answering questions, respond clearly and directly – provide an example where possible. Don’t mumble or over talk, if you don’t understand a question or know how to respond, be honest.

Typical questions you may be asked at an interview:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
  • Why do you want to leave your current employer?
  • Why are you interested in joining this organisation?
  • Why should we choose you?
  • What do you know about us?
  • What are you looking for from your next company/job?
  • Are you a team player? Give examples.
  • How do you respond under pressure/boredom?

Upon Conclusion

Show interest and enthusiasm; know why you want the position and be able to express, specifically the marketable skills you have to offer the organisation.

When concluding the interview, thank the interviewer for their time, shake hands and smile. You can express genuine interest in the role at this time and speak positively affirming you look forward to speaking with them again.

After the interview

It is imperative that you give feedback to your recruitment consultant as soon as possible following the interview. This will ensure that the consultant can pass the information onto the client, who may, and often does, decide on their next course of action within a 24 hour timeframe.

If you have any further questions or would like to discuss your interview preparation further, please do not hesitate to contact your consultant.

Good luck with your interview!

Tips from Employers

  • “Interviews make anybody nervous. My number one tip is, make sure you are clear on what you want to say in the first 15 minutes. Keep in mind at least three and at most five top qualities you want to show off about yourself, and back them up with anecdotal evidence of why these are relevant attributes for the job in question.”
  • “Be clear about what you want to say and the impression you want to make. Remember to listen to what you’re being asked and use every question as an opportunity to demonstrate your experience. Always back up your answer with a tangible example or measurable outcome. An interview is a chance for you to find out about the company as much as it is for them to find out about you. So do your background research on the company.”
  • “Interviews often start at the office door. How you can fit in is a big part of the decision-making process. Be warm, polite and friendly. Know what you are really good at. Have examples of where this strength has served you well. You aren’t expected to be perfect but self-knowledge tells us that you can take instruction easily and won’t flounce off if pulled up on something.”
  • “Usually, young people looking for a job won’t really understand the business or what the role involves. They could set themselves apart by doing some background research. Rather than cramming in as many interviews as possible, make the most of each chance by concentrating on the company they’re applying to. “

Other views

  • “The main issue for me would be that the candidate has done some research on the company that he/ she has applied to and is therefore in a good position to ask intelligent questions at the end of the interview. To do so would put the candidate in a strong position and it tells the interviewer so much.”
  • “Be totally honest, though you may come unstuck if your prospective employer isn’t being honest with you. You might get the job and it turns out not to be what it was supposed to be. To an extent, you’re interviewing the interviewer.”
  • “Perhaps surprisingly, the advice I most often have to remind people of (whether they are students or directors) is ‘be authentic’. This helps the company know who they are getting but also helps you ensure the job is right for you.”