Learn how to answer questions and be confident in a phone, video, Skype or face-to face interview.
You can prepare for an interview by following these four steps
What is the interviewer trying to find out about you?
Find out as much as you can about the interview when you are notified, as this knowledge may give you a vital edge over other applicants.
Types of interviews include:
The interviewer will ask you a series of questions to find out if you:
- Actually want this job and to work for this company
- Can do the job
- Will fit in with the team and organisation
- Will enjoy the role and stay and long-term
- Read the job ad and description line-by-line and make a list of the qualities and skills you need to have to be successful in the job.
- Look at the organisation's website. What does it say in the 'about us' and 'about the team' sections? What kind of person might enjoy working here? Why do you want to work here?
To get an idea of what you might be asked, you can search online or head to these links to find:
What do you want the interviewer to learn about you?
Your main purpose in an interview is to communicate that you have the relevant skills, qualities and motivation to do the job well, and be a good fit in the team and wider organisation.
- Make a list of everything you would like the interviewer to know about you by the end of the interview. Look at this list and decide if you will communicate this verbally through examples and the tone of your voice, and/or non-verbally through your use of positive body language. For example, you may show your positive attitude through smiling, having an upbeat tone of voice, and also by sharing specific examples of times you have responded positively in a difficult situation.
- Decide upon an overall intention for your interview. For example, 'In my interview I will give clear examples that show I have the technical skills to do the job and that I am a positive, proactive person who gets along well with others'.
When have you demonstrated this aspect of yourself?
In an interview you’ll need to share several examples of how you have used your skills to create successful outcomes in the past. These examples could come from many experiences such as previous jobs, voluntary work, sporting teams, clubs and university projects.
Review your lists from the 'Research' activities and brainstorm ideas about how you have demonstrated the skills and qualities that will be required in the job. Look over your CV and cover letter for ideas too.
- For the past year I have been part of a sales team in my part-time job, where we worked together to achieve set targets.
- I was part of the Social Committee at high school and was responsible for promoting events to ensure there was a good turnout.
- In my third year at university I worked on a group project within a small team and we gained one of the top grades in the class.
It is good to have a variety of ideas, answers and examples prepared, so that you can choose the example that best answers the question you are asked.
Develop your examples into full answers by using the STAR technique. This will help you present your thoughts in an ordered way.
S - SITUATION
T - TASK
A - ACTION
R - RESULT
Before the interview you can practice by writing out possible answers to interview questions using this technique. You do not need to memorise answers, but being familiar with content you might talk about will help you relax and feel more confident.
A possible interview question might be:
Tell me about a time when you have contributed to the success of a team
For the past three years I have been working in a retail store part-time selling women’s clothing. There are five sales consultants and we each have individual sales targets that contribute to the overall store target.
Two months ago I noticed that although I was reaching my own weekly targets, the overall sales for the store were not on target for that month. I wanted to find a way to improve this.
I calculated the difference between the store’s target sales to date and achieved sales to date for the month, and then looked at how many days I was rostered on for the remainder of the month. I worked out that if I increased my daily sales by 10% it could help the team to reach the monthly target.
For the rest of the month I consistently achieved 10% extra sales above my usual daily targets. The other sales consultants noticed this and decided to see how far they could get above their set targets too.
At the end of the month everyone had exceeded their own targets and as a result we had our best month of sales for the year so far.
- Write out possible answers for a range of interview questions using the STAR technique.
- Set up your free account on InterviewStream below, and practice answering a range of questions online. You just need a webcam and internet connection to get started. Use the Self-Evaluation Form (in InterviewStream resources) to assess your strengths and areas for improvement.
CDES Interview Workshops
You can book an interview workshop through MyCDES.