Job interview advice for job seekers

The dilemma

Have you ever ended up being offered your second or third choice job but not your first? It happens all the time. The reason is simple: when you turn up for the job interview that you really want, you're nervous. You've cluttered your mind with company facts, figures and clever things to say.

On the other hand, when you turn up for a less desirable job interview, you're less flustered and more natural. You take each question as it comes.

Our job interview advice

The key is to transfer this attitude to your first preference job interview. Stay positive, calm and answer each question as it comes, rather than trying to rhyme off a rehearsed answer.

The key

The single most important factor in any job interview is to ask questions. By this we're not referring to the portion at the end of the interview designated for your questions - we mean ask questions as you go along. Turn the interview into a conversation. For example:

Interviewer: What qualities do you think are important in a good manager?

You: I think that a good manager needs to have excellent communication skills. He/she [depending on your own sex] needs to know - and needs the team members to know - exactly what targets the team is aiming for and what strategy is being used to achieve them. He needs to identity, rectify and learn from problems. He needs to motivate staff and reward achievement. He needs to take responsibility and not be afraid to make tough decisions. What sort of executive decisions would be involved in this role?

Interviewer: You would have a number of different areas of responsibility, including making budgetary decisions.

You: That's interesting. In my last role I was responsible for a six figure budget and achieved efficiency savings of 25% on the previous year. One way I did this was to decide that... [give example].

By turning the interview into a conversation, you...

  • Express a keen interest and a desire to understand the true nature of the job
  • Show that you have good business sense and understand the priorities of the company
  • Project confidence and calmness
  • Take back some of the power in the interview, proving that you take initiative and have leadership skills
  • Will feel more relaxed and less nervous. A conversation flows much more naturally than the awkward pauses in an interview
  • Find out exactly what they're looking for in a candidate, so you can concentrate on demonstrating these skills and qualities
  • Give yourself the opportunity to correct your answer based on their response
  • Make yourself memorable


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