Ace your interview

Doing some groundwork before a job interview is essential to making a good impression on an employer. Researching the company/organisation and the role itself will help you answer the employer's questions, and show you're keen for the job.

The interview is your chance to present your skills, experience, personal qualities and other strengths as they relate to the position you’re applying for. It’s also an opportunity to get more information about the organisation or position. This will help you decide if it’s the right job for you.

Research the organisation

  • What’s the public profile of the company? Are you aware of its products and services?

  • Use the internet, business or industry magazines and brochures to find out information.

  • Think about your networks: do you know anyone who works/has worked there?

Anticipate the employer's questions

  • Review your CV, cover letter and any application forms you’ve completed.

  • Working from the job description, think of questions the employer may ask.

  • Prepare answers to possible questions. Even if these questions are not asked, it makes you think carefully about what you’re offering.

Have your questions and evidence ready

Make sure you have questions ready to ask. Your research into the organisation can help, and may give you further questions about the job.

You may like to take physical evidence of your achievements to interviews, such as examples of written work, qualifications or written references. Employers may also ask to see certain documents.

Get your interview clothes ready

First impressions count. You don't have to wear new or expensive clothes, but make sure you have something smart and simple that enables you to look neat and tidy. Employers will notice whether you've tried to look presentable, even if you're going for a labouring job.

If it’s a video interview, dress as formally as you would for an interview at a workplace. This will help you focus, as well as looking presentable on-screen. Avoid black or white clothes or anything with a strong pattern which can be distracting online.

Know where the interview is

Work out how you will get to the interview site and how long your journey will take. Have a contingency plan if something goes wrong, for example, if your children get sick on the day of the interview.

Be mentally prepared for all eventualities

You may be asked to take a test before the interview. It might be an aptitude test, or a test relevant to the type of job you have applied for.

Before the interview itself, you may be required to give a presentation on a topic relevant to the organisation. Check that you will have access to any equipment you may need – for example, an overhead projector.

You may be presented with a particular situation and asked how you would deal with it.

You may have to take part in group activities with other candidates, to test your abilities in teamwork or leadership.

Interviews can vary tremendously. Some may be casual like a chat over coffee. Others may be formal. You could face a panel of interviewers, which may be two or three people – or eight or nine! You could even go through a series of interviews with different people, all on the same day. Some people may be put off by being in a situation they had not anticipated. It's best to expect that anything could happen.

If it’s a video interview, be prepared for technical hitches. Remember if there’s a problem with equipment or the connection, staying calm will show the interviewer that you can cope with challenges.

This post has been supported with advice from careers.govt.nz – visit Careers NZ for more careers advice and information