Interview skills

10 Successful interview tips

  1. Know yourself: In order to do well in an interview, you must be able to answer some fundamental questions about your work experience and work habits. Try to answer each question quickly, honestly and directly.
  2. Know your resumé: In order to give it credibility you must know the details of your resumé. Be ready to give concrete examples of your qualifications, abilities and skills. In your explanations, include facts and figures about your past accomplishments, such as "I served over 100 clients per day" or "My sales were 30 percent above the average."
  3. Be informed: It is important to know about the type of work that you will be required to do. Ask ahead of time for a full job description, or look up the job title in the National Occupation Code (NOC) book. You should also find out what the salary range is for this type of work.
  4. Do your research: Learn about the company's products and services. Find out who the company's clients are, as well as the owners, managers, and directors. Check how many years it has been in business. Any other information about the company's mandate, philosophy and mission statement would also help.
  5. Practice answering possible questions: Study the list of interview Typical Interview Questions below and practice giving answers to a friend.
  6. Take a dry run: Travel to the interview location a few days before to get a feel of the work environment. Take notice of how existing employees dress-this will help you choose appropriate attire for the interview.
  7. Arrive early: Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early. Allow for traffic and other unexpected delays. It is better to be early and relaxed than to be late and stressed out.
  8. Prepare your own questions: Show that you are interested in the job, and find out if it is the place for you.
  9. Give yourself a mental and spiritual massage: Spend a few moments to think about the positive. Concentrate on your positive qualities and release any worries you might have. Start preparing the night before by getting enough sleep.
  10. Relax: Try to stay relaxed before the interview. Being calm and confident will help you be your natural, wonderful self.

Follow up

It’s good practice to follow up with an employer after an interview. You should:

  • Take good notes: Immediately after the interview, write down what you discussed, why you are good for the job, and any possible objections. This will help you if you get a second interview.
  • Think like an employer: Ask yourself: Did I show that I can do the job? Do they see me fitting into the group? Am I compatible with the supervisor? What contributions can I make? What concerns do they have? What should we have discussed, but didn't?
  • Draft a thank-you letter: Your letter should:
    • Express your continuing interest.
    • Show positive matches in what they want and what you have.
    • Refer to your related experience and education.
    • Volunteer further information.
    • Ask for clarification.
    • Offer to give references.
    • Justify a reason to get together again.
  • Have an objective third person read your letter for clarity and inconsistencies.
  • Mail the letter two days after the interview. Mailing it on the same day makes you appear too anxious. Later than two days, you lose impact.
  • Make a follow-up call. Two days after the employer gets the letter, call to express your interest in the job, introduce a new point about why you qualify and arrange a second meeting. Following up is a crucial last step.

Interview Do’s and Don’ts


  • Dress appropriately
  • Be on time
  • Bring paper and a pen
  • Bring an extra resumé
  • Wait to be seated
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Be honest
  • Show that you're a team player
  • Ask about the next step
  • Send a follow-up letter
  • Follow up by telephone


  • Don't give limp handshakes
  • Don't be tired
  • Don't be rude
  • Don't emphasize money
  • Don't be indecisive
  • Don't criticize
  • Don't make excuses
  • Don't be too aggressive
  • Don't talk too much

Sample questions

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?
  • You seem over-qualified/under-qualified.
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What kind of salary are you looking for?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • What are your long-range goals?
  • Do you like to work overtime?


  • What were your most rewarding experiences in school?
  • What were your grades?
  • What were your outside activities?
  • What were your favourite classes? Why?

Work experience

  • What did you like most about your previous job?
  • What were your accomplishments in your last job?
  • What are some job disappointments you have had?
  • What was your salary in your last job?
  • Describe your previous boss.
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • What has been your most rewarding job? Why?
  • Why have you changed jobs so often?

Job-related questions

  • What do you know about the kind of work we do here?
  • How long would it take you to learn the job?
  • How did you become interested in our industry?
  • How much money would you like to make, long term?
  • What would you like to know about us?
  • Why should we hire you?

Personal qualities

  • How long would you stay with us?
  • Who can we contact as references?
  • What do you see as your greatest strength?
  • What are the areas in which you need to grow?
  • What do you see yourself doing in the next five years?
  • What things have you done on the job that makes you proud?
  • Describe your ideal job?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group?

Hobbies and outside interests

  • What are your hobbies and outside interests?
  • Outside of work, what life experiences have impacted upon you the most?
  • Describe your lifestyle.