Candidate Tips

The build-up to the Interview

Your interview begins the minute you call an employer or an agency for a position, whether it has been advertised or not.

You never know who you are speaking to when the phone is answered. For all you know, it could be the employer.  It won’t make a good impression if you were rude or demanding.  An upbeat, friendly voice stands a better chance.

Remember to be pleasant at all times as this is when you start selling yourself!


This is the first step of the interviewing process and the purpose of this is to screen out those who don’t meet the company’s requirements.  This is done by comparing your qualifications and experience with those that are required by the company for the job that needs to be filled.

  1. Always treat the screeners/recruiters as though they were the ones that were making the final decision.  They are the people that will decide if you go through to the next level or not.  You also don’t know what other positions they have available at any given time that might be suitable for you.
  2. If it is not a suitable time to speak at the time of the call, offer to call the screener back when it is more convenient to disclose information.
  3. Make sure you have all your information at hand and that you can focus on the call and answer all the questions asked.
  4. Your goal should be to make a good impression with the screener and get an appointment for a pre-screening session.
  5. Don’t use words such as “huh” or ‘’what’’.
  6. Speak clearly at all times.

Preparing for the Interview

It is true that most interviewers make decisions about the candidate during the first 5 minutes and spend the rest of the time justifying that decision.  You need to take advantage of those 5 minutes to make the right impression. 

Take note of the information below and you will ensure to be well prepared
for your interview:

Remember:  Dress for the job you want - especially if you are applying for a professional position within a professional company.

What to wear for Woman:
Preferably wear a suit or skirt and tailored blazer or a dress with a jacket in a conservative style and colour. Remember that conservative is not old fashioned but rather corporate.  A hint of red is always good.
Wear lower heeled shoes in case you are taken on a tour of the company.
Hair should be clean and tidy and not obstruct facial features.
Don’t wear heavy fragrance, and make sure nails are polished or clean. Make that appointment for that manicure and pedicure before the interview to prevent chipped nail polish. No funky colours!

What to wear for Men:
Ensure your nails are clean and short.
Hair should be clean and neat.
Make sure you are shaved and don’t wear strong fragrances.
Don’t wear flashy jewellery.  Wear only a watch and wedding ring if applicable.
Wear a solid colour shirt, preferably white with a tie (red in the tie is a good choice).
Wear a tidy suit or a jacket and matching trousers.  The jacket should be a dark colour i.e. black or navy.

General Guidelines:
Leave early for your interview to give yourself enough time to get through the traffic or take public transport without making yourself late.  You want to arrive at your interview prepared and relaxed.

Arrive about 10 minutes before the interview time (not too early).

Take copies of certificates and qualifications along to the interview.

You may be asked to complete a company application form upon arrival.  Even if the information required is repeated on your CV, you must complete the form with pride and remember that the interviewer will be assessing you on not only your conduct but also on how well you fill out the document and how well you follow instructions etc. 

Write neatly and be prepared to follow the rules.

Don’t leave blanks or say: ‘’see on CV’’ – be as specific as possible. 

If required to state a weakness, never say: ‘’I have no weakness’’ – we all do.

Follow the instructions.

Pay attention to detail and read the disclaimers on the form
When the interviewer approaches you, stand up, extend your hand, and give a firm handshake with a warm smile and maintain eye contact.  Greet him/her and say thank you for the time.

What to expect in the Interview

You might get a trained or untrained interviewer. You may be exposed to a panel interview with more than one person interviewing you; this is something done to see how effective you are in a group, or only one person may interview you. This is sometimes done to see how effective you are in a group environment. Regardless of the situation, your answers should always be based on your skills, qualifications and previous experiences. Expect pressure on you in a number of ways. There may be long silences or they might fire questions at you or interrupt you when you are answering and they even use sarcasm.  Just keep it cool and calm. Take a deep breath, and LISTEN carefully. First LISTEN, and then answer them by thinking on your feet.  These are all techniques they use to catch you off guard. Don’t let any of these techniques rattle you. Answer the question even if you are interrupted. Don’t reduce yourself to being defensive and argumentative.

  • The use of eye contact during your interview is vital.  If there is more than one person interviewing you, then make sure that you maintain eye contact with everyone.  Never single out one person as it may be the wrong one.  By avoiding eye contact, it could be read as sign that you are not interested, or are too shy to handle a position that requires working with others or construed as lying.
  • Your answers should be based on your skills and experience
  • Answer the question openly and expand on your experience when asked
  • Be friendly, open and sincere
  • Don’t cover your mouth, or fiddle with papers when you speak
  • Use your hand naturally to make a point
  • Don’t fold your arms or twist your hands together as this is an indication of you not feeling comfortable in an interview situation.  Don’t hide your hands!
  • Sit comfortably but don’t slouch.  If you lean slightly forward, it shows that you are interested in what the interviewers is saying.  That is always a good thing
  • Do research around the company and be prepared before the interview and include questions like:
    1. Is here a career path for the successful candidates?
    2. What kind of training is provided?
    3. Is this a new or replacement position?
    4. How many people in the department?
    5. Something vital you have read on the internet when you prepared for the interview.  Show an interest in the company and its vision
  • Please don’t ask any question at any stage if the interviewer has already given you the answer during the interview, as this will clearly show that you were not paying attention or that you are not thinking
  • If you are being interviewed by an agency, it is all right to ask any questions at the first interview, including salary and benefit questions
  • Never assume you have the job
  • Don’t talk too much
  • Don’t drag the interview out any longer than necessary
  • Observe your interviewer and identify when it is time to stop.  Some indications include: The interviewer will look at his/her watch, or may stand up or sit up straight.  The interviewer may ask a closing question such as “is there anything else that we have not already discussed?’’ The interviewer may also ask you if you have any further questions.
Checks and Testing

Depending on the employer’s requirements, you may be required to do one or more standard assessments listed below:

  • Credit and Criminal checks are often called for; however you need to know that these cannot be done without your consent.
  • Reference checks: this is where information will be gathered relating to your post conduct t and performance.  These will consider your honesty, reliability, dependability, adaptability and ability to perform as a part of a team.
  • Role-plays: where you will be asked to act as you would in a real life situation.  For example a sales presentation or a training session.
  • Psychological assessment: includes personality and career interest test
  • Skills assessments: includes keyboard, mathematics, dexterity and a variety of assessments looking at skills sets

Ask the person interviewing you what the next step is, so that you know.  They will generally tell you.

Good luck with your CV and interview.
We trust that this information has been useful.

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