Preparing for Interviews

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:

Know what you're letting yourself in for

 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:

  •  its structure (eg. number of staff, departments) and range of activities
  • what products and services it offers, who its customers are, who its main competitors are
  • what kind of jobs are available, the recent growth, their plans for expansion and think about how this will affect the position for which you are applying

Find out more about the job being offered 

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.

Know what to expect in the interview

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: 

  • What are the names and job titles of the selection committee members?
  • What format will the interview take?
  • Can I have the ... (first and last place are strategically best) interview time slot?
  • Will I be required to perform any tasks during the interview (eg. presentation, case study)?
  • How long is the interview likely to be?
  • Am I required to bring anything to the interview?
  • Where are you located?

Predict interview questions

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.

Prepare and practise responses 

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.

Prepare questions to ask the interviewer 

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.

Take appropriate documents 

In order to feel confident and well prepared you may wish to take the following documents to an interview: 

  • spare copies of your resume and application
  • your planned answers to predicted questions
  • academic transcripts
  • written references
  • copy of the original job advertisement
  • an optional portfolio with samples of your work

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.