Interviewing Tips for Job Seekers

Interviews can be one of the most intimidating aspects of searching for a job. Unfortunately, it's a fact that having top-notch credentials alone are not going to land you a job. Having great credentials and excellent interviewing skills, however, will ensure that you stand out amongst other applicants.

Following are tips and advice to help you do well and feel comfortable during the interview process and to get you that much closer to securing the coveted position.

Preparing for the interview

Interview types and techniques

There are a wide variety of interview styles that utilize different techniques, such as:
  • Screening interviews: Usually based solely on credentials or the candidate's requirements, these interviews are designed to weed out unqualified candidates. Possibly a telephone interview could be used to screen out candidates who, for example, have salary expectations too high for the salary range the company is willing to pay.
  • Behavioural interviews: Situational questions that are asked by the interviewer to assess future performance through past performance in similar situations. 
  • Group interviews: More than one candidate is interviewed simultaneously. 
  • Panel interviews: One candidate is interviewed by multiple interviewers at one time.
Try to find out ahead of time the type of interview that will be used. Often, interview types and techniques will overlap, so it is important to prepare yourself for a variety of different types. Be prepared to not only speak about yourself in general, including questions such as "Tell me about yourself", but also have specific achievements and accomplishments ready. 

The best way to prepare for a behavioural interview is to recall three success stories from your past work history and then for each situation prepare to answer the following questions:
  • What was the situation?
  • Who was involved?
  • What was the action taken?
  • What was the outcome?
These success stories can then be shaped to fit behavioural questions that are asked during the interview.

Generally, the more senior the interview, the more likely a panel interview will be involved and likewise telephone screening may be used for junior positions.

Research the company and position

Advance preparation is necessary for a successful interview. Do research on the company so that you can comfortably answer questions about the products and services the company provides together with the organization's previous achievements. Taking the time to learn about the company demonstrates that you are proactive and interested in the organization. 

Researching the position itself is also essential. Review the job description if you have a copy of it and prepare ahead of time for any questions that the interviewer may bring up about it. Make a list of your career accomplishments and have specific examples targeted towards the job description or company needs. 

Practice ahead of time

Commonly asked interview questions reside on various websites and can assist with practicing your responses. Be sure to select questions that relate to the position you are interviewing for. 

Once you have your questions ready, practice applying your attributes, accomplishments, and success stories to each question, focussing on how these examples helped your previous employer(s). This will demonstrate your value as a potential employee.

Many interview-related articles advise practicing in front of a mirror or webcam if accessible.

Recite or record your questions and answers and then review, paying special attention to speech patterns, habits, and body language. It might also be helpful to get feedback from an independent observer. Practice and review until your answers sound natural, confident and clear.

Interview day
  • Dress appropriately
    • In most cases, you can't go wrong by dressing in business attire, regardless of the position. 
  • Arrive early
    • Since it's disrespectful to be late, plan on arriving 10-15 minutes early for the interview. Beware, however, that arriving too early - more than 30 minutes - can give the impression that you are too eager for the position and could have a negative effect. 
  • Consider others
    • To avoid offending others in the office, avoid using perfume or cologne, don't smoke before your interview, and pop a mint before arriving. 
  • Greet the employer
    • A formal business greeting includes a firm handshake, self-introduction, eye-contact, and a smile. Let the interviewer take the lead; for example, telling you which chair to sit in.
The interview has now begun. It's time to put all that preparation and practice to use. Here are some pointers and things to keep in mind during the interview.
  • Sit upright
    • Slouching during the interview comes across as being disinterested in the position/company, and is also disrespectful to the interviewer. Sit up straight.
  • Eye contact
    • Eye contact shows attentiveness and interest. Maintain eye contact with the interviewer to display your confidence and enthusiasm. Be careful with your intensity, however. The interviewer should not feel like they're being stared at. If you're being interviewed by more than one person, make eye contact with each of the interviewers and be careful not to focus your attention on only one. If one person asks you a question, start by answering the question by making eye contact for a few seconds with that person and then alternate eye contact amongst the other interviewers. 
  • Listen
    • While you may be prepared for a question and have an answer ready, do not cut off the interviewer when they are speaking. Listen to the entire question being asked. If you are confused by a question, ask the interviewer to repeat or clarify the question. 
  • Focus and take your time
    • If you are unsure of how to reply to a question, take a few seconds to think about your response. This is a better idea than trying to improvise because you did not understand the question initially.
  • Positivity is key
    • When an interview is completed, the candidate who is positive will always remain in the interviewer's mind. Avoid any negative comments directed at previous or current companies or bosses. Make sure to smile when interviewing!
  • Interview the interviewer
    • Encourage the interviewer to share as much information as they are capable of divulging. Ask for clarification if you are unclear about the position's duties, responsibilities or what direction the company is going. Be sure to ask open-ended questions to keep the interviewer talking and avoid subjects such as compensation and benefits, especially in the first interview. 
  • Bring the interview to a close
    • It's important to bring the interview to a close. To do so, summation questions such as, "How do you feel my qualifications compare to your expectations for the role?" and "What are the next steps in the interview process?" can be asked. This will gradually and naturally bring the interview to a close, while indicating your interest in the company and position.
After the interview
  • Thank you letter
    • A thank you letter shows the interviewer that you are interested in the position and the company. It should be sent within 24 hours of the interview, thanking the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you. Either mail or email is appropriate and should be no more than one page. 
  • Follow-up phone call
    • A follow-up phone call about the position can be placed within a week after the interview. This call should be used to check the status of the opportunity and to express your continued interest.

While there is no guaranteed formula for interview success, with great preparation, practice, presentation skills and follow-up, your chances of having an outstanding interview will be greatly increased. allows companies to post their positions online, search a resume database to find candidates, publishes a monthly Toronto Jobs newspaper and provides full temporary and permanent recruitment services for companies in the Greater Toronto Area. The website also allows candidates to search and apply to positions directly on-line and get career, interviewing and resume tips all at no charge.

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