Preparing for Your Interview:

The interview can either make or break your chances of getting that job.

Rule # 1: Come Prepared or don't come at all

Before you set out for your interview, do some research on the company. Find out about their product or services, major competitors, philosophy, history, and size. Just like your college search, you want to know what you are getting into. Not to mention the fact that the interviewer will be very impressed with your knowledge of their company.

You should also do a self-assessment prior to arriving at the interview session. Look over your résumé and be able to explain your interests, abilities, experiences and values as they relate to the job. Be prepared for the ambiguous first question: “So, tell me about yourself.”

Prepare a folder to take with you to the interview that contains:

  • A copy of your resume
  • Letters of reference or a sheet of reference contacts
  • Blank paper and a pen for notes
  • Information on your skills and experience you would like to mention
  • Company information and a list of questions you have prepared to ask during the interview

Rule # 2: Practice, Practice, Practice

Find a family member, friend, or career counsellor to role-play an interview with you. Go over some frequently asked interview questions, which you can find at the career counselling office at school or on the internet. Here's a short list of common questions you will be asked, (but you should also come with some questions for the interviewer :)

  • Why are you interested in working at this company?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What did you like and dislike about your last job?

Rule # 3: Dress to impress

Appearance is the first thing you communicate to those you meet. Before you have a chance to speak, others notice your appearance and dress and draw inferences about your character, competence and capabilities. Image has the greatest impact on the perceptions others have of us when they have little other information on which to base judgments. This is precisely the situation a job applicant finds himself/herself on at the start of most interviews. So make sure to dress appropriately. Groom your hair and shine your shoes.

Rule # 4: Close the deal

While you are in the interview, collect business cards from everyone you meet with that day. Once you get back home, you should write a thank-you note to each individual person, recognizing that they took time out of their busy day to meet with you. Show your appreciation and express how interested you are in the position.


The following questions are a few examples of some other common interview questions. Practice answering each question and think of how you would respond.

1) Tell us about yourself or talk about yourself?
2) Why are you interested in this position?
3) What experience do you have that would make you qualified for this job?
4) Do you prefer working with others or on your own?
5) What is your understanding of the nature of this job and our company?
6) What are your long term plans?
7) What specifically do you have to offer us?
8) Would you accept a job that requires travel?
9) Why should we hire you instead of another candidate?
10) What are your outside interests? How do you spend your free time?
11) How do you operate under stress?
12) How long do you think you will stay in this position?
13) What salary or wage are you expecting?
14) Have you ever been laid off or fired from a position?
15) What did you do to get prepared for this interview?

45 Key Interview Principles

Before formulating dynamite answers to interview questions, review some basic interview principles to prepare for the job interview. If you understand interview goals – both your goals and the likely goals of the interviewer – and the process by which you both will attempt to reach these goals, you will be in a position to formulate your own dynamite answers to interview questions.

1) Identify and assess your strengths.
2) Translate your strengths into job-related language of accomplishments and benefits relevant to the needs of employers.
3) Be sure your communications are employer-centered rather than self-centered.
4) Support your accomplishments with specific examples illustrating what you did.
5) Identify what you enjoy doing
6) Know about your “field of dreams” by conducting research on important job-related issues.
7) Gather information about the organization.
8) Gather information about the interviewer.
9) Talk in the employer's language
10) Anticipate and prepare for questions.
11) Consider your response if asked an illegal question.
12) Practice the form and content of your responses.
13) Practice questions with a friend or tape recorder.
14) Prepare for different interview types and settings.
15) Expect several interviews with the same employer.
16) Be prepared for different questioning techniques.
17) Know how you communicate verbally to others.
18) Know how you communicate non verbally to others.
19) Dress for success.
20) Prepare your telephone area.

Principles for the Interview Encounter

21) Arrive on time.
22) Treat everyone you meet as potentially important to the interview.
23) When waiting for the interviewer, do something that looks relevant to the interview and job.
24) Greet the interviewer properly.
25) Communicate positive behaviours during the first five minutes.
26) Wait to be invited to sit in a particular seat.
27) Keep your hands, arms and elbows to yourself.
28) Sit erect and lean slightly forward.
29) Keep your feet on the floor.
30) Let the interviewer initiate the openers but take initiative in
offering some of your own openers.
31) Be prepared to respond to initial small talk in an interesting and positive manner.
32) Answer questions with complete sentences and with substance.
33) Reduce your nervousness by practicing a few stress reduction techniques.
34) Focus on the interviewer's needs.
35) Focus on exchanging useful information about each other rather
than just on getting the job.
36) Emphasize the positive.
37) Turn potential negatives into positive.
38) Engage in positive nonverbal cues.
39) Be sure to ask questions.
40) Delay salary considerations as long as possible.
41) Delay accepting an offer until you can consider it.
42) Close by asking when to follow up.

After the Interview

43) Record information about the interview for the future reference.
44) Send a thank-you letter.
45) Follow through with a telephone call when the decision date has passed.

The Outcome

Leaving the interview does not mean leaving with an answer. Ensure if the employer has stated that they will be getting back to you, that you will be available.

If you get the job:

  • Ask the employer when you should start.
  • Is there anything you should bring
  • Could you come in before the start date, if possible, to become acquainted with the work environment?
If you do not get the job:
  • Ask for feedback
  • Ask if they could keep your resume on file if there are any other positions that may come available?
  • Could they recommend another business or company that you could try?
  • Thank them for the interview and the opportunity to find out more about their business

TIP: When asking for feedback, be prepared to listen and take the answers you are given. Do not become defensive about the suggestions you receive. You never know, this company could be hiring again or have a friend that is hiring.