How you approach a job interview is very important. If you just blunder in to the interview, unprepared, you know what to expect. If you don’t research the job, you will lack basic knowledge, even if you’re experienced.

The best job interview techniques involve preparation, thought, and above all, knowing how to show your skills and knowledge effectively. There is a very straightforward but also very practical technique for interview preparation, and it’s based largely on practical common sense.

Preparation for the interview

Start by preparing thoroughly. Research job interview questions and make sure that you have a good basic understanding of the role of the position. You also need to understand the importance of the position in terms of the employer’s business.

Rehearse your answers to common interview questions and try to create a positive image with your answers. Do your answers show strong positives, like experience, knowledge, and problem solving, for example?

Preparing yourself for the interview

The next stage of preparation is to prepare yourself:

  • What will you wear to the interview? Best practice is ordinary business attire, preferably dry cleaned before the interview.
  • What you need to take with you to the interview? Do you need a laptop, any required documentation, et cetera?
  • Make sure that you have yourself well organized on the day before the interview. Check everything; make sure that you have all the essentials.
  • When you arrive at the interview, make yourself comfortable. Bring materials with you to help you prepare, and read them while you’re waiting.
  • When you’re called in for the interview, pay close attention to what you’re told. The interviewer will provide you with any additional information you require.
  • Turn off your phone. This is an absolutely essential requirement. Interviewers do not like phones ringing in the middle of an interview.
  • Listen to each question. You are allowed to ask your own questions to clarify interview questions. If you don’t understand the question, ask the interviewer to repeat or explain the question in more detail. (The alternative is to try to answer a question you don’t even understand, which is invariably fatal.)
  • When answering interview questions, take your time. Don’t rush yourself. Think about what you’ve been asked. The most effective interview techniques are based on keeping your answers well organized and under control.
  • Keep your answers straightforward and clear. When speaking, make sure that the interviewer can easily keep track of your answer. If you’re answering a question about problem-solving, for example, make sure that you explain the problem, what the issues were, and how you solved it.

At the interview

Playing to your strengths

All good interview tips are based on using your best skills. If you’re a salesman, for example, use your sales skills. If you’re an academic, you can use your strong communication skills. If you’re an expert, give the same authoritative answers that you would give on the job. Always focus on your strengths and you will do a very competitive interview.