At a recent Interview Skills Workshop one of the participants asked “Can we prepare for an interview?” The answer was a resounding “Yes – you can!” In fact if you don’t do some preparation the likelihood of you getting the position could be very slim.

So how do you go about giving yourself the edge in an interview? Well first find out something about the company/organisation that you want to work for. Do some research – look them up on the internet, read the annual report, if you know someone who works there ask some questions, if not call up and speak to HR. Make sure you have some knowledge of where the head office is, how many offices are there, what are the products or services offered by the company. Is the company big or small, new or been going for a while. Interviewers are often amazed at how many applicants turn up for the interview with no idea about the company, not even some minimal knowledge. Why should you get the job if you don’t even have any interest in the company? So start right – get some basic knowledge about the company and about the job. Give yourself the opportunity to shine.

Now that you have done some preliminary work – let’s look at the actual interview – what questions will be asked, what answers will they be looking for?

They will certainly be looking at what you have done, what is your experience, knowledge and skills. This is a vital area where prior preparation is essential. Make sure you go over your resume – refresh yourself on dates (have a copy of your resume with you to check against if required). Look at the application form for the interview, at the selection criteria, at the questions asked or requested experience that was mentioned in the ad. If they have asked about hobbies, interests or specific skills there, then you can expect they will ask at the interview. Make sure you have your thoughts and answers clear in your mind. What areas of expertise, skill, and experience do you particularly want to highlight?

There are several potential questions that you can prepare for and you can be certain that at least one, if not many of these are generally asked at all interviews. For example:

• Why this job?
• Why this Company?
• Where do you want to be in 5 years?
• What are your goals?
• What experience, training, qualifications and personal qualities are there in your favour relevant to this job?
• What are your strengths? How do they qualify you for this job?
• What are your weaknesses? What has previous performance assessments highlighted? Can these be portrayed in a positive light – How?

In respect to your work experience –possible questions you may get could be:

• What were you especially successful in?
• What problems occurred and how did you handle them?
• How did you get on with your colleagues?
• What does teamwork mean to you?

If you have listed activities or hobbies in your application be prepared for a general question based on what you have listed. For example: if you have listed reading as one of your interests you may be asked what book are you reading at the moment – prepare ahead and know something about the book you have claimed to have read. The same goes for movies, TV programmes or theatre.

Prior preparation for the interview will ensure that you present yourself as competent, coherent and clear. In today’s world competition for jobs is fierce – so why not ensure that you give yourself every opportunity to shine at the next interview.


So now you have prepared for the interview – you know about the company, the job, you have all your dates, experience at your fingertips. You have looked at questions you may get and have prepared your answers – You are ready. Or are you? There is one part of your preparation missing and that is how do you sell yourself at the interview, how do you present yourself so that your answers are clear and you can communicate your message to the interviewers. This is where we look at handling your nerves, your body language to reinforce your message and your vocal variety and voice to ensure that your message comes across clearly and you connect with your interviewers. And, that is a subject for another day or better still contact us to see when our next Interview Skills Workshop is being held.

Trish @ Trischel

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