Preparing for an interview

When invited for an interview, the jobseeker should be aware that the company are already impressed with you and are interested in progressing your application further. The interview process is there to find out if you are as good as your application portrays you to be.

First impressions are important. Everyone knows this so no one should ever be marked down for it, but they are.

Research shows that first impressions are made up of the following:

  • 55% visual impact including facial expressions, dress and body language
  • 38% tone of voice
  • 7% communication via voice

Proving that initially, what you actually say is not irrelevant, but has little impact on the first impression. You can never go wrong with a handshake and a warm smile.

An interviewer will not stop there. They will be listening to your verbal communication throughout the interview, but they will also be looking to see what you say non verbally.

Your body language is a great way for an interviewer to read further into you as a person, and tell when you are nervous, defensive or uncomfortable, and their decision can be based on what your body language says about you.


Try to relax and you will appear confident. Your body will loosen and your aspect will be more open and friendly.

Eye Contact

Keep a good level of eye contact with the interviewer but don’t stare at them. Try not to look downwards or at the interviewers pen or around the room, they will think you insincere or disinterested. It is also useful as you will be able to decipher what they think of you and what you are saying. If they look interested in what you are saying, expand on it.


Sit upright and face the interviewer, it will show you as alert and interested. Don’t slouch in your chair or lean back, it’s too casual. Folding your arms is a defensive move and will automatically create a barrier between you and the interviewer, they will know this and will wonder why you are doing it. Moving your hands to emphasise a point is perfectly acceptable as can leaning forward in your chair slightly. If you think you’re flapping around like a chicken however, hold your hands together to avoid appearing flustered.

Verbal Body Language

Don’t rush, you’ll fall over your own words, look flustered and may not get your point across. Take a deep breath, have a sip of water if you have one and think about your answer before delivering it in a moderate, even tone of voice. Try to rehearse your answers beforehand and it’ll knock out a few of the “and er’s” and “ums”.

During the Interview

Don’t fidget but do feel you can move in your chair if necessary, you are not a robot.
If appropriate ask politely if you can take notes, they will be impressed but do not sit there writing everything down, there is no need and the interviewer will wonder why you are doing this. It will lose any flow in the interview and you will not be giving the right level of eye contact and interest.

If you don’t understand a question, clarify what they are asking you, you will not look stupid and it’s better than giving the wrong answer.Use the interviewers name, they have one and it will break down barriers and allow the interview to flow.

The interviewer will obviously ask about your work history. You have given the short version in your CV but they will want you to expand on it.

Interview Do’s

  • Be on time, if you are going to be late, just ring and let them know
  • Go fully prepared with all necessary paperwork
  • Ensure that you get across your points of achievement
  • Tell them about any responsibilities you have been given
  • Keep it clear and concise
  • Sell yourself to the interviewer
  • Be open and friendly
  • Keep your cool, tone and speed of voice must be moderate
  • Look the interviewer in the eye
  • Give the interviewer space and time to take stock and ask their questions
  • Be polite and friendly to all the people in the company you meet
  • Be prepared to talk, they want the information you can give them
  • Check their website

Interview Don’ts

  • Be late, it always gives a bad impression
  • Slouch, lean back, make yourself too comfortable
  • Let your eyes wander around the room
  • Use slang
  • Ramble on without answering questions
  • Go unprepared
  • Show any bad manners
  • Give one word answers, you’re not answering the question properly
  • Lie about any positions / work you have done
  • Use bad language
  • Never badmouth a past or present employer, it only makes you look bad

After the Interview

Thank the interviewer for their time and if it hasn’t been clarified already, find out what the next step is. Shake the interviewer by the hand and smile as at the beginning before leaving.

Trick questions

Some employers will ask a trick question to see how you react, they don’t want to see you fail so be honest, don’t say what you think they want to hear. The interviewer will be examining your thought processes and wait to see what your final resulting answer will be.

Panel Interviews Some people find panel interviews more nerve wracking than one to one interviews but the trick is to remain calm. When asked a question keep eye contact with the person you are giving the answer to and in the intervening times make sure you have eye contact with other members of the panel. When giving your answers the other members will be watching your expression so try and keep your body calm and relaxed.

Top Ten Interview Tips

  1. The Crucial First Impression – Dress smartly and make sure you’re on time. Smile!!!!!!!
  2. Preparation is the Key – Do your homework! Make sure you know as much as you can about the company so you have sensible and intelligent questions to ask. Plus, you need to make sure you wish to work for the company.
  3. Write down and practice possible questions – Writing down and practicing your questions will help you remember what they are and will also make them flow in the conversation.
  4. Be honest – Do not lie about your background or skills. You will get caught out.
  5. Talk about Specific Achievements – Your possible future employer is always interested in the things you have achieved throughout your career so far. Make sure you include this information in your interview.
  6. Body Language – Be aware of your body language. Don’t put up a defensive barrier between yourself and the interviewer. Sit up straight, don’t slouch, look alert and interested.
  7. Language – Don’t overpower your interviewer with constant comments, it should be a two way conversation and make sure you only use positive statements.
  8. Take all your necessary paperwork – Make sure you take all your necessary paperwork with you to your interview and another copy of your CV, just in case.
  9. Be enthusiastic and positive – Don’t overdo it and start getting overexcited but make sure the interviewer is aware you are interested. Don’t criticise any previous employers.
  10. The Final Impression – Smile, thank them for their time and say that you enjoyed discussing the job with them and you look forward to hearing from them soon.