When you have thoroughly researched the job, anticipated
likely questions and practiced your answers, you are ready to treat the
interview as an opportunity rather than an ordeal to be endured. The
interview is a two-way conversation, not an audition. You are now ready to
put your best foot forward.
- First impressions are very important: Give a professional
impression in dress, grooming and handshake both while you wait and when
you first greet the interviewer. Be organized (on time) with samples of
work, transcripts or whatever supporting material you feel will enhance
your interview. Always take an extra copy of your resume.
- The employer wants to see keen interest and vitality: You
really want the job so let that come through in your language.
- Accept who you are: Don't lament deficiencies you feel are
present. Focus your attention on the good things you can bring to the
employer. State qualifications positively and avoid using "I only have
..." or "I was just working as a ..." to describe your background. Phrase
your responses in a positive manner. ("The time-management skills I
developed as a grill cook at MacDonald's will be useful in this job
- A little nervousness is okay: It can even help you by keeping
you alert. Do try and relax though, and listen to carefully to the
questions. Remember to KEEP BREATHING. Ask for clarification if you need
it "(Are you asking me if I can ..." "Would you please repeat the
question?"). Take a moment to think before you answer each question. This
isn't a race!
Top 9 Interview Tips
100 personnel directors and managers were surveyed and
came up with the following 9 most important points:
- Interviewers attach great importance to good grooming and
appropriate dress. No matter how qualified you are, you may be doing
yourself a great disservice if you do not pay adequate attention to your
personal appearance or if your clothes fail to show a businesslike
demeanor. First impressions are important. Your clothes must be neat,
pressed and clean. A suit isn't always necessary, but don't wear jeans or
a t-shirt. Make an effort to dress up a little.
- Interviewers like candidates who are enthusiastic and responsible.
Let them know you are genuinely interested in the job. If you are
non-attentive, withdrawn or passive during the interview, the assumption
can easily be made that your "on the job" performance will reflect the
same negative qualities.
- Ask questions about the job. If you do not show your serious
interest in the duties and responsibilities of the position, the
interviewer will probably stop thinking of you as a serious candidate.
This is why it is important you thoroughly prepare for each interview.
- Do not ask direct questions about salary or fringe benefits at
the beginning of the interview. If you do, you'll give the appearance of
being more interested in what the company can do for you than in providing
good reasons for hiring you in the first place. You may refer to salary
at the very end ("Would you please clarify for me how the co-op salary
is set? Is it determined by the number of workterms, study terms, a
combination of both, or by any other factors?").
- Don't be desperate. Even if you need the job desperately, don't
convey it. According to the survey, the overwhelming number of personnel
experts feel that candidates who call attention to their dire straits are
less likely to be hired. A sound hiring decision should be based on
ability, experience and attitude.
- Do not exaggerate your skills or accomplishments. Stretching
the truth is usually detectable and deals a severe blow to the candidate's
chances of employment.
- Watch your body language. Interviewers are more favourably
impressed by candidates who look them in the eye, but don't stare them
down. The usual perception is that people who avoid eye contact either
have something to hide or lack conviction and self-confidence. Sit up
straight and don't wave your hands around. Did you observe your own body
language during your practice interviews? If not, ask a friend to play
"interviewer" and give you feedback.
- It bothers interviewers if the candidate does not know much about the
company so do your homework prior to an interview. You cannot be
too convincing when claiming you really want to work for a particular
company when it is obvious you do not know the first thing about them.
- Candidates who appear to be overconfident are much more likely to
favourably impress interviewers than those who act shy, but remember there
is a vast difference between being self-assured and coming across
as arrogant, boastful or smug.
(As reported by 153 companies surveyed by Frank S.
Endicott, Director of Placement, Northwestern University, USA.)
Negative Factors That Can Make An Impact On An Interview
- Poor personal appearance.
- Overbearing, overly aggressive attitude.
- Inability to express him/herself clearly, poor voice, diction,
- Lack of planning for career, no purpose or goals.
- Lack of interest and enthusiasm; passive, indifferent.
- Lack of confidence and poise, nervousness, ill-at-ease.
- Failure to participate in non-academic activities.
- Overemphasis on money; interested only in best dollar offer.
- Poor scholastic record, just got by.
- Unwilling to start at the bottom, expects too much too soon.
- Makes excuses, evades questions, hedges on unfavourable factors in
- Lack of tact.
- Lack of maturity.
- Lack of courtesy; ill-mannered.
- Condemns past employers or previous co-workers.
- Lack of social understanding.
- Marked dislike for school work.
- Lack of vitality.
- Fails to look interviewer in the eye.
- Sloppy application.
- Merely shopping around.
- Wanted job only for a short time.
- Little sense of humour.
- Lack of knowledge of field of specialization.
- No knowledge of or interest in the organization or the industry.,
- Emphasis on whom he/she knows (name-dropper.)
- Unwillingness to go where we send him/her.
- Narrow interests.
- No interest in community activities.
- Inability to take criticism.
- Lack of appreciation of the value of experience.
- Radical ideas.
- Late to interview without good reason.
- Never heard of the company.
- Failure to express appreciation for interviewer's time.
- Asks no questions about the job.
- High pressure type.
- Indefinite response to questions.
(As reported by 153 companies surveyed by Frank S.
Endicott, Director of Placement, Northwestern University, USA.)
Telephone interviews accommodate employers and
candidates in remote or distant locations. Telephone interviews avoid the
time and financial commitment of in-person interviews. As with personal
interviews, you need to be fully prepared.
- The interview will be located in a private office on campus. Check the
location on your program's information board.
- Arrive at least 10 minutes early, as with regular interviews.
- Bring your resume, notes and job description, but don't rustle your
papers during the phone interview!
- Try to limit noise in the area. Have your notes laid out nearby.
- Speak slower than you think you should and pronounce your words very
- If the telephone line is unclear, or static interferes, tell the
interviewer, and ask if they would call back on a clear line. They will!
- If you need a moment to formulate your answer, tell the interviewer.
Remember - they cannot read your body language over the phone! Take your
time to respond the same as you would with personal interviews.
- Be cheerful and smile. This will be conveyed in your voice. (Yes, it
- Your voice is all the "body language" the interviewer has to go on in
making a hiring decision; vary the tone and convey enthusiasm. Avoid
monotone, or monosyllablic responses.
- When the interview is finished, do not hang up the phone, unless asked
to by the co-op secretary; keep the line available for the next student.
If the phone is not put on hold, remember that the interviewer can hear
everything you say!
- Student 1 (to Student 2): That was a rotten interview. It was really
hard. The questions were tricky and the employer sounded ...
- Employer (still on the line): Hmmmm. Veeeeery interesting....
Some Final Interview Points
- Timing: Arrive a few minutes early so you can relax and collect
- Appearance: Your appearance is important because you will be
judged on your grooming and overall looks before you even get a chance to
speak. Dress neatly and conservatively. Make an effort to create a good
- Manner: Be polite during and while waiting for the interview.
If interviewing at the employer's office, be friendly and polite to
everyone you see from the moment you walk through their front door. Greet
the interviewers by name and shake their hand firmly. Remain standing
until you are asked to be seated and then maintain a comfortable attentive
- Active Listening: During the interview listen carefully and ask
to have questions repeated if you did not understand them. To be very
clear in your answers, you might restate the question as part of your
- Honesty: Be yourself. Do not try to be something you are not.
Emphasize your strong points, but if your shortcomings or past failures
are brought up, explain the circumstances rather than making excuses or
("Yes, my transcript does show how poor my grades were that term.
Unfortunately I came down with the flu during final exam period, and
didn't do as well as I'd expected. However, as you'll see, my grades
improved signficantly during the next study term.")
- Politeness: Always maintain a courteous manner even if the job
turns out to be of little interest to you. Not only do you never know when
you'll want to reapply to the employer for a more interesting position,
but you also need to remember you are representing UVic and the Exercise
Science, Physical & Health Education Co-op Program. Courteous, polite
students reflect well upon our program and your fellow classmates. Be sure
to thank the recruiter for considering you. Shake hands again when you say
- Body Language:
Signs that register positively:
- A firm, confident handshake;
- calm, not fidgety, hands and feet;
- leaning toward the interviewer;
- direct gaze but do not stare; ready smile.
Mannerisms to avoid:
- Crossing your arms on your chest (implies defensiveness);
- touching your face (implies deceptiveness);
- leaning back in your chair or handling objects on the interviewer's
desk (implies overconfidence);
- chewing gum, chewing your nails, or fidgeting, etc., (all signs of
Employers look for:
- Keen interest in the job;
- vitality, commitment to career;
- maturity, a professional attitude;
- necessary qualifications/skills, experience and education.
Note: Employers say personal qualities and a good
attitude towards work are often as important or more important than the
experience and education factors, providing that the applicant meets the
minimum technical standards for the job.
Prepare for your interview, be honest, and be yourself.
Those are the top three tips of all.
After the Interview
Each interview is a learning experience. It is
important to take a few minutes afterwards to reflect on your performance.
Think about the parts you felt went really well. Why were they positive?
Also think about areas where you might have improved
your interview performance. Filling out an interview evaluation form (below)
after each interview is a good way to evaluate your interview performances,
and to collect a history of all your interview experiences. The latter will
come in handy if you apply in the future to the same employers.
Date of Interview:
Answer yes or no to the following questions:
- Did I arrive on time?
- Was I courteous with everyone with whom I dealt?
- Did I have the necessary materials with me?
- Personal Information: Résumé, cover letter, list of references,
letters of references, documents, writing samples, portfolios, etc.?
- Writing material, pen.
- Did I know the interviewer's name and title?
- Did I give positive signals about my interest in the position?
- Did my body language show my interest, enthusiasm and eagerness; did
I sit up and lean forward?
- Was my tone of voice pleasant and did I speak clearly enough for the
interviewer to hear?
- Did I look at the interviewer both when speaking and when spoken to?
- Did I fidget or appear nervous?
- Did I show that I was listening by answering the questions that were
- Did I control my annoyance when dealing with irrelevant questions or
- Did I use active listening skills?
- When I did not understand a question, did I ask to have the question
- Did I answer all the questions put to me adequately?
- Did I demonstrate my qualifications in the areas of:
- Educational background?
- Work experience?
- Career goals and plans?
- Knowledge of the company organization?
- Knowledge of the specific job placement?
- Did I answer all the questions honestly?
- Which questions did I have the most trouble answering?
- Did I ask relevant questions when given the opportunity to do so?
- What were my greatest strengths in this interview?
- What were my greatest weaknesses?
- How would I assess my overall performance during the interview? (Poor
- Adequate - Good - Excellent)
- How could I have improved this interview?
- Coordinator feedback on my interview performance, if available: