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Interview preparation

Interviewing for a job might be intimidating, but with the right preparation you can go in feeling calmer and more confident. Read our interview preparation tips below.

Interview Preparation

Step 1 – Investigate the position

Understand the tasks that you’ll need to perform as part of the job/position. This information can usually be found in the Position Description (PD), attached to the job advert/website link.

For example, an admin traineeship involves filing, answering phones, taking messages, processing incoming mail, photocopying, conducting mail outs, faxing, e-mailing, data input, writing letters, etc.

Step 2 – Research the company

Learn as much as you can about the company/business including what it does, what it produces and the industry in which it operates. How large is the organisation? Where does it operate from and who are some potential business partners and who are their main competitors.

Knowledge is power!

Step 3 – Update your resume & bring it with you

Your resume, or curriculum vitae (CV), should contain enough relevant information to get you on an interview shortlist. Be sure to list any awards, honours and qualifications/certificates you have.

Depending on your highest education level, you may wish to list the subjects studied and the skills you’ve acquired such as: excellent computer skills, good customer service, etc. Also, include any relevant work experience, part-time work and personal attributes like: hard working, reliable, punctual, etc.

List at least 2-3 references – 1 from school, 1 professional and 1 work-related or work experience. Talk to the referees to obtain their permission before you list them and their contact details.

You resume is not a “social” document. Rather, it is a snapshot of your professional career path.

Step 4 – Dress to impress

Dress appropriately for the position which has been advertised. Take care with your grooming and ensure that clothing is clean and pressed (ironed). You are entering a professional environment, you are not attending a social gathering. Make sure that your dress/grooming makes this distinction clear.

There are no second chances when making a first impression!

Step 5 – Interview behaviors

Don’t just be on time! Be early! Check out the location, plan your journey and make sure you leave enough travel time whether by car or public transport. If driving, check parking facilities and give yourself enough time on the parking meter (2hrs minimum).

Smile and make eye contact with everyone you are introduced to. Be prepared to shake hands (firmly and confidently). You can expect to be interviewed by more than one person.

Listen attentively and be sure not to let your mind wander away during your interview.

Tell the truth when asked a question, if you don’t have a particular skill, say so. However, let them know you are keen to learn new things.

Step 6 – Question time

Be prepared for questions and think about how you might answer them. Give short, clear and truthful answers. If you’re unsure how to answer a particular questions, say so and ask the interviewer to rephrase a question or provide you with more information. Some examples of questions you can expect are:

  • Why do you want this type of work? or Why do you want to work with us?
  • What type of experience do you have?
  • Do you have a) driver’s licence b) access to a motor vehicle and c) reliable public transport?
  • What are your career plans, after completing your apprenticeship/traineeship?

Link and use your education and previous experience to justify your answers.

Have a shortlist of questions that you would like to ask the interviewers. We recommend you have three questions prepared in case a question you intend to ask is covered in the interview. Some questions you might ask are:

  • What will be my normal work hours/days?
  • What other departments work most closely with this one?
  • What does a typical day look like?
  • When will you be making a decision on the successful applicant/candidate?
  • If successful, when would you require me to commence?
  • Is there anything else I can provide you with that will be helpful? or Can I answer any final questions for you?

Interview etiquette

Do –

  • Listen carefully and take in all the information.
  • Ask questions.
  • Dress appropriately and conservatively. Be discreet with tattoos, body art and piercings etc.
  • Take along your Resume (both as a hardcopy and in an electronic format on a USB).
  • Be prepared by researching both the position and the company.
  • Practice “good” body language.
  • Opt to alternate negative words with positive or neutral words; for example: instead of describing dealing with ‘nasty’ customers, use ‘challenging’.
  • Shake hands and make eye contact.
  • Work hard to remember names by repeating the name back in your greeting.

Don’t –

  • Chew gum, mints, etc.
  • Wear a hat or anything that obstructs a face-to-face conversation.
  • Dress in an untidy or messy way. Ensure all clothes are clean and avoid strong fragrances.
  • Arrive late. Leave yourself plenty of time to be early.
  • Use slang or abbreviate words unnecessarily.
  • Do not under any circumstances use swear words or foul language.
  • Use bad body language.
  • Complain about previous bosses/teachers/colleagues, etc.
  • Switch your mobile phone off.