Preparation is essential to maximise your chance of success. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to cope with your nerves and the easier it will be for you to be able to fully answer their questions.
Prepare yourself in the following ways:
Find out as much as you can about the organisation. See our Researching an Organisation page for suggestions on gathering information about organisations. Sometimes it's hard to find the information, but it is worth the effort to find what you can, including:
Determine the main focus, challenges, barriers, opportunities, tasks and responsibilities involved. Knowing this will help you predict questions for the interview and will help show that you have the right skills, education and qualities to succeed in the role.
Ensure you can give a detailed description of what you would be doing on a day to day basis in the job.
Even if there is no advertised job, you will have an idea of the type of job the company would place you into, considering your education and experience. Research this type of job from other job descriptions and advertisements.
Be prepared for a call from your potential employer at any time. Answer the call in a professional manner and try to find out as much about the interview as possible. Employers may be evaluating your level of professionalism, language skill and interest in the position from your very first contact.
Some sample questions to ask a contact officer include:
A useful approach is to write out likely questions, based on the selection criteria and role descriptions. For example, if you know that project management skills are an important skill being sought in job applicants, you can put yourself into the shoes of the employer and think of questions which would help assess the project management skills of potential applicants. Friends and colleagues can be of great assistance with this task. See sample interview questions for ideas on likely questions.
When preparing responses use: a one-sentence summary answer, key points with keywords to spark your memory in the interview, and an example which demonstrates your point. Having a clear structure when you answer questions will demonstrate your ability to think and communicate in a clear and analytical manner. A question preparation sheet may help discipline you in this process.
Ask questions to show your interest in the direction and the success of the organisation and HOW your contribution can add value. Your questions should demonstrate a clear and up-to-date understanding of the role and of the organisation's strategic goals and directions. Refer to questions to ask in an interview for advice and sample questions.
In order to feel confident and well prepared you may wish to take the following documents to an interview:
A portfolio showing samples of your work and achievements may be useful for communications students, architecture students, some arts students, IT students and others. If you use a portfolio ensure that it is simple, easy to digest in a short period (interviews can be only 20 minutes long in total, and that it demonstrates your abilities, skills and achievements.