Surviving the Interview

  • Give yourself extra travel time in case something unexpected happens. If you are not sure of the location, make a special trip the day before and time how long it takes you to get there. Plan to arrive about ten minutes early so you can relax and look around. Be sure to take advantage of any reading materials that might be available in the reception area that will tell you more about the company.
  • Think of your job interview as an exchange of information. You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Be confident, without being arrogant.
  • Present yourself in a courteous, professional manner that shows you are proud of what you have to offer, and do it from the moment you walk in the door. Everyone you meet could be asked to give their opinion of you, and even if you are not the successful candidate for this job, they may remember you for another one.
  • Rehearse how you will present your background and previous accomplishments ahead of time, but not to the point where it sounds like a memorized speech. Try to be thorough without being long-winded, and give examples to add impact to your responses. This is most easily achieved by covering the highlights, then offering to elaborate on anything that might interest the employer. That way all the major points are covered, and the interviewer has a chance to decide what specifics are most relevant to the position. Wherever possible, try to relate your abilities to the needs of the employer, and be honest about how the job fits with your career goals.
  • Allow your enthusiasm to show. Employers want people who have a sincere interest in their company/product/service, and will sometimes be willing to train a less qualified candidate rather than hire someone who simply appears to be “job shopping”.
  • Taking a moment to consider a question, or asking the interviewer to explain or repeat a question is OK. It shows that you want to clearly understand what they are after, without wasting time on subjects that are of no interest to the employer. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it is best to respond with “I don’t know”.
  • Never give negative information about former co-workers or employers. Always be positive.
  • Avoid “yes” or “no” answers. They stop conversation and prevent you from sharing valuable information about yourself.
  • Avoid mentioning how much you need the job. It will destroy all your attempts to appear confident.
  • Agree to fill out any application forms the employer requests regardless of whether or not the information is already included on your resume. You may omit your Social Insurance Number and insert “available on hire”.
  • If employers raise the same objections time and again, such as “you’ve been out of work for a long time”, or “you have only worked in one setting” avoid becoming defensive. Understanding the negatives in your resumé ahead of time will help you prepare positive answers to these kinds of comments. Explaining why it will not be a problem in a clear and confident way can change the employer’s opinion.
  • Not every interview goes well. When it happens do not let the interviewer see that you are discouraged. Staying confident and determined will leave a much better impression. Sometimes employers change their minds in the last few minutes of the interview.
  • Watch for signs that the interview is about to end, for example when the interviewer begins looking at their watch or closing your file. At that point it is time to summarize your qualifications and restate your interest in the job. Stress that you can be counted on to do the job well, and be sure to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration. Shake hands and leave on a positive note.