Print this page

At the interview

At the interview

At the interview

First impressions are very important in interviews and evidence shows that many employers make up their minds within the first 30 seconds! Remember that if you have secured an interview, the employer is already engaged and this is your chance to build on that initial interest.

What do you need to do?

Arrive in good time

Try and arrive ten minutes early. This will allow you chance to relax and gather your thoughts before the interview. Remember that your interview begins the moment you walk through the door so anyone you come into contact with could influence the decision about your employment. Be courteous and smile.

Look the part

It is important to dress suitably but comfortably. You might be able to gauge the company's dress code from their online photos but, if in doubt, go smartly dressed. Try to get a good night's sleep the night before.

Be aware of your body language, it is not just what you say that counts. Sit upright, be positive and enthusiastic and maintain good eye contact.

Speak clearly, concisely and at a steady pace. If you can feel yourself diverting onto another topic, then take a moment and breathe before carrying on. This will help you re-focus and show the employer you are actually thinking about your answer and not just citing your CV.

Think before you answer questions

Most interview questions fall into 3 categories:

  • Can you do the job? (skills and experience)
  • Will you do the job? (personality and working style) 
  • Will you fit in? (questions that test your knowledge of the company) 

Things you should consider:

  • The reason for the question – this will normally be an attempt to prove the above three criteria.
  • What is the most appropriate answer? Listen to the question carefully and ensure the answer you give best evidences the attribute they are testing. 
  • Don't be afraid to ask an interviewer to repeat a question, or for more clarification if the question is not clear. This will enable you to give the most relevant answer.
  • Interviewers usually finish by asking if you have any questions for them so prepare some of these beforehand. Don't ask about pay/conditions, be positive; show knowledge of the company/opportunity and end in an upbeat fashion. 

For more information on different types of questions and how to answer them check out the 'Your Interview Tips' leaflet in our downloads section.

After the interview 

Every interview is a learning opportunity and you can always improve your performance. You could write to the employer after the interview and say how much you enjoyed meeting them, confirming your interest in the job. If you are not offered the job you should ask for feedback on your performance to ensure you improve for next time.

How we can help you 

The best way to gain confidence with your interview technique is to practise, so book a mock interview at the Careers Centre. 

Find out more

Prospects - Interview Tips

TARGETjobs - the Top Nine Tricky Interview Questions and How to Answer Them