Interview tips for applicants

Tips for preparing for an interview and what you should do in an interview.

If you have been asked to come to an interview for a job, preparing for the interview can increase your chance of success. Preparation will help you to present yourself at your best to the employer and can also make you feel more confident.


If you’ve got an interview for a job, make sure that you:

  • dress appropriately- always look neat and tidy, whether the interview is formal or informal
  • arrive on time
  • have read the advertisement and job description thoroughly, and have thought about how your skills, experience, qualifications and personal characteristics match the requirements. It’s valuable to prepare examples from your experience that demonstrate this. Think about what you can offer and why the employer should hire you ahead of other applicants
  • have found out what you can about the organisation from, for example, the organisation’s website, industry websites, friends and family, unions, organisation advertising and promotional material. You could visit their premises if, for example, the job is in a shop or café, so you can get a feel for their style
  • bring a copy of your CV or resume, even if you’ve already given this to the employer; you should bring it with you to refresh your memory
  • bring a pen (and spare pen) and paper in case you want to write anything down
  • if you have any questions to ask, write them down before the interview in case you forget
  • bring certified copies of certificates and qualifications, if you haven’t already provided these
  • make sure you know exactly where the interview is being held and figure out the best way to get there. If you’re relying on public transport get the earlier bus etc, and have a back-up plan. If you’re driving, make sure you know where you can park and leave in plenty of time in case you can’t find a park right away
  • If you have dependants, have a back-up plan just in case your care arrangements fall through (eg your child is sick and can’t go to school)
  • know whether there’ll be any assessment tasks and the sort of interview it is: informal, formal, panel etc. You can ask the employer these questions when they’re organising the interview.

During the interview

In the interview:

  • turn your phone off
  • try to stay calm and focused
  • if you have a mind blank to a question, ask if you can come back to it later in the interview
  • use appropriate language
  • don’t be too modest; if you have had achievements in previous jobs, tell the interviewer
  • be yourself
  • if your mouth gets dry, ask if you can have some water
  • if you’re being interviewed by more than one person, take turns making eye contact with each of them
  • if you don’t know an answer right away, pause and think, rather than rambling
  • you can ask questions too; the interview is a two-way process.

Remember that even if you don’t get this job, all interviews are chances to practise your interview skills.

Support person for the applicant

Sometimes it is appropriate for an applicant to bring family or friends to their interview. This may be just for support or may involve answering questions on the applicant’s behalf. If you want to bring a support person/s you should tell the employer in advance so they can make arrangements for a suitable room etc.

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