10 Ways to Nail a Job Interview

01 June 2023

Whether it’s your first or one hundredth job interview, there is always an element of fear when stepping into that interview room. What are they going to ask? Are they going to like me? Have I done enough preparation? These are some common questions that often fly around in our minds. While they can be a little on the daunting side (especially panel interviews – don’t get us started on those!) job interviews are fantastic opportunities to better ourselves and our careers and can open many doors.

While it is important to prepare for an interview, sometimes it may be hard to know where to start. We’ve put together 10 ways to nail a job interview and make the best impression on your (potential) new employers!

1. Dress to impress

As you may already know, first impressions are vital – in everyday life and especially in job interviews. You want to make sure that you are dressed professionally and appropriately for whatever role you are applying for. Unless specified by your interviewers, always assume that the interview dress code is business formal. For a more casual or relaxed company, a business casual dress code may be applicable.

No matter how casual the company is, you should NEVER wear ripped or revealing clothing to a job interview. Try to also steer clear of thongs, denim and activewear.

To read more on dress codes, head to our blog.

2. Do your research

We hope that this would be a given, but make sure before you head to the interview, you have thoroughly done your research on the company (including the company mission and values) and the advertised position description. As the old saying goes – “failing to prepare is preparing to fail!” Doing an in-depth read of the position description will not only give you the best insight around the day-to-day role and skills required, but also will assist you in making sure that you have the correct skills required for the role as well as potentially giving you an insight into the type of role-specific information that might be asked in the interview.

Undertaking a detailed review of the company will also help you to determine whether it is the type of company you want to work for. Recruitment agency Robert Half says to do your research on things like:

  • Do their values align with your own?
  • Have they received any bad publicity lately or been involved in a scandal?
  • Do you know who the executives of the company are?
  • Who are their main competitors?
  • Is their future direction something you can see yourself doing long-term?
  • Is their culture a good fit? (You can research this on platforms like LinkedIn with reviews from past employees)

Having this knowledge will make you look invested and informed of both the role and the company.

3. Interview day logistics

It might not even occur to you to plan the logistics of the interview day, but it is important – especially planning the route to the interview. Ensure you know exactly how you are going to get there. Are you going to drive or catch the train? If you plan to drive, plan out the route as well as a backup route just in case and even consider doing a trial drive so you know where you are going on the day and decrease the risk of getting lost. If you are driving, make sure you fill up with petrol the night before and plan where you are going to park – parking is often something that we don’t think about and if it’s at a place in a major CBD, it can often cause headaches. Plan to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early and on the morning of the interview, check the traffic report so that you leave with enough time.

If you are planning on catching public transport, ensure you are planning well in advance as well. How are you going to get to the station? If you are driving to the station, where are you going to park? How long will the journey take, and will you need to do any stopovers, or will you just need to take the one train/bus? On the morning of the interview and in the days leading up, keep checking your local public transport website to ensure that there are no track works or delays and have a contingency plan for the morning of the interview in case the worst happens.

Other things you can do to prepare are to make sure you have a hard copy of your resume handy, a pen and paper for taking notes, a drink of water to keep you hydrated as well as some snacks if you know the journey to and from the interview can be lengthy, the contact number of the person interviewing you or the reception number in case you need to contact them and have an early night the night before so you get plenty of sleep.

4. Prepare answers for commonly asked questions

While you’re never going to know exactly what questions will be asked, there are often questions that commonly pop up in interviews that you can practice for. Seek have put together a list of the top 10 most commonly asked questions, which include questions like:

  • What’s your understanding of the role and why are you interested?
  • Why are you interested in working for this organisation?
  • Give me an example of a time when you made a mistake or didn't deliver on expectations, what happened? What did you learn?
  • Talk us through your professional and technical skillset.

If there is a question that comes up where you are unsure of an answer, don’t panic! Ask the interviewer if they mind repeating the question or clarify it in your own words to give yourself some time to consider an answer. While it isn’t a given that these questions will be asked, it’s always a good idea to have an answer in your head in case they do come up, so you’re not put on the spot.

5. What questions will you ask?

At the end of the interview, 9 times out of 10 your interviewer will ask you if you have any questions for them. Now is your chance to see whether the role is right for you and to impress your interviewers with any potential research you’ve done by asking company-specific questions. The Muse has put together a list of 51 great questions to ask at the end of an interview and while you’re obviously not going to ask them all, it is a good idea to choose a few that you would like to know the answer to as well as clearing up any questions or concerns you may have.

6. Preparing a key task

Depending on the type of role you are applying for, you may be asked to submit a portfolio or prepare a key task to bring to the interview. This is your chance to wow your potential employers with your skills as well as any ideas you may be able to bring to the table. Remember – they are just wanting to see an example of your work and won’t be expecting you to know absolutely everything about the company, so feel free to get creative with it (so long as you can justify your ideas).

7. Practice makes perfect

It might feel silly, but practice does make perfect! Whether it’s standing in front of the mirror and talking to yourself or having a friend or family member reading you out some commonly asked questions, it will help you practice saying out loud the answers that you have prepared in your mind, as well as getting any tips from them about how you responded, your body language and whether you appeared confident or not.

8. Body language

Speaking of body language – this one is important. During your interview, you want to ensure your body language is open and positive and that you are presenting well, including making eye contact. Pro Schools Online has said that a whopping 67% of hiring managers cite that a lack of eye contact is the biggest mistake candidates can make. So, while we don’t mean for you to stare down the person asking you questions, it is important to make sure you are looking at who is talking to you. Don’t forget other positive body language traits like sitting up straight, not touching your face, or fidgeting and smiling.

9. Discussing salary

Salary can be a nerve-wracking thing to discuss with your current employer, let alone a potential employer! Although it can be a little bit daunting, try not to over or undersell yourself when providing a ballpark salary range. Do your industry research on the average salary for your role in the country or state you live in, compared to what you currently earn and where you think you can provide value. As long as you can back it up and it isn’t ridiculous!

10. After the interview

Ok, so this isn’t technically a tip on how to nail a job interview, but it is an important one. At the end of the interview, it is a good idea to ask where your potential employer is at in the hiring process, including if they are doing second-round interviews or how many other people are left to be interviewed and when you can expect to hear back from them. If it has been longer than the time period they offered, perhaps consider sending an email as a follow-up to let them know you are still interested and look forward to hearing from them. If you are unsuccessful in the job, that’s ok! Job interviews are awesome learning experiences whether we are successful, or we aren’t. Ask your interviewer if they’d be able to provide some feedback as to how you interviewed and if there is anything you can work on for future interviews. You never know – they may point out something you didn’t realise you were doing!

So, there you have it – our top 10 tips on how to nail a job interview. While this advice may vary depending on what industry you’re interviewing for or the type of interview (eg. in-person interview, phone interview, Zoom interview, etc) it is a great place to start. And remember, for all your business and interview wardrobe needs, Biz Corporates have got you covered!