NailThatJob!

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Getting an interview

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10 interview questions

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Skills employers rate

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The day of the interview

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Interview DOs

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Interview DON'Ts

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After the interview

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Start talking

A lot of jobs are never advertised – as many as 70%!
Let people know you are looking for a job.
You never know who might be able to give you a foot in the door.

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Clean up your social media

In case you don’t know,
employers may look you up on Facebook/Twitter.
Check your privacy settings and keep yourself tidy!

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Make sure you’re qualified

Don’t waste everyone’s time applying for a position that requires a minimum 3 years’ experience if you’ve only just graduated. Start volunteering or gaining experience where you can for a leading edge in the jobs you are qualified for.

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In with a chance?

If you’re not sure whether you have a chance at a job or not, call the HR manager and have a chat to find out if it’s worth putting in an application.

They should be happy to let you know.

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Get over it

It can be embarrassing asking for help but get a professional (career advisor/lecturer/someone in the industry) to review your CV and application letters.

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Tailor each letter to each job

Adjust your standard letter to suit each different job application. Your potential employer wants to hear why you want to work specifically for them.

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Don't send out bulk CVs

These get treated like spam. A CV that is obviously sent without any thought or accompanying letter of application will most likely end up in the bin.

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Have your CV proofread

You might not think spelling is that important but your future employer does! Don’t use ‘txt’ spelling either.

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Tell us about yourself

Accept that you might feel a bit silly at first – talking about yourself can be difficult. Now isn’t the time to be shy though – sell yourself. You have nothing to lose and a job to gain!

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Why did you apply?

Don’t say ‘I need to pay my mother back for denting her car on the driveway fence.’ Don’t overdo it (‘I have dreamed of being in logistics ever since I can remember’) either! Just keep it simple and show your aims/values are in line with the organisation's.

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Why should we hire you?

Refer to the ‘Skills employers rate’ tab and use this ‘top ten’ if you’re stuck. Remember, they know what they want – show them that you are the person they are after.

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What is your best/worst trait?

Keep your worst trait reasonable (my friends get annoyed that I am too tidy) and your best trait something work-related (I am good with people, organised etc.).

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What's your 5 year plan?

You may be asked where you want to be in 5 years. Keep it realistic. If you really want to be living on a yacht partying 24/7, keep it to yourself!

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Your last job – any negatives?

If you're asked what you didn't like about your last job try and keep it positive. It’s OK to say ‘parts of the job were boring’ as long as you also say ‘it was a great environment and I learned a lot’. Keep it general, too, not personal – make sure you don’t dis your ex-boss.

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Tell us about a difficult situation

This can be at work or uni. Focus on how you solved it. You don’t need to go into details and tell an entire story from go to whoa. Have an example prepared and keep it simple.

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How do you deal with stress?

Remember to be positive. Say something like, ‘I take five minutes and walk around the block/deep breathe/talk it out’, not ‘I freak out entirely when I’m stressed’.

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Dealing with people

You may be asked how you deal with difficult personalities or co-workers. Don’t say ‘I just lose my temper/gossip about them behind their back/I don’t deal’. A more positive example would be that you keep calm and communicate.

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Do you have questions?

The correct answer to this is ‘yes’! Make sure you have a couple of questions ready. They can be about the industry in general, the workplace culture … even bringing a notebook with some queries shows you have given it some serious thought.

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Communication skills

Interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral) rate highly. If you only feel comfortable texting, you need to get comfortable talking too!

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Knowledge and attitude

Passion, knowledge of the industry, drive, commitment and attitude really count. Your potential employer wants someone who really is interested in their industry or company, not someone who is just after a job.

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Problem-solving ability

Critical reasoning and analytical skills/problem solving/lateral thinking/technical skills. These are all skills valued highly by employers. Even if you don’t have much work experience you have experience of these at uni – talk it up!

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Calibre of academic results

Enough said. Note, though, other aspects are valued too, not just good grades.

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Work experience

Demonstrating that you have some will stand you in good stead. Even if the work wasn’t related to the job you are interviewing for, the skills you have developed will be.

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Cultural alignment / values fit

Remember that your interviewer is looking for someone they will be working with – they want someone they are likely to get along with. Be friendly and be yourself.

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Teamwork skills

The workplace can be just like group projects at uni – you will need to work with people you don’t necessarily have things in common with.

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Emotional intelligence

This includes self-awareness, strength of character, confidence, and motivation. Being a person who is aware of and can get along with others is important.

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Leadership skills

This can include managing the shift at work, organising your sports team or leading your group project at uni.

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Activities and involvement

A well-rounded set of experiences and interests is generally viewed favourably. Extra-curricular activities look good on a CV. Don’t fib and make things up though – going rock-climbing once does not a hobby make!

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Dress appropriately

It’s better to be a bit over-dressed than too casual – even if the regular company culture dress-style is fairly informal. You should look neat from top to toe. Have a dress-rehearsal the week before to avoid panic!

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Know where you’re going

You will stay calmer if you know where your interview is, how to get there and how long it will take.

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Check your grip

A handshake is important – a general guide is firm, but not vice-like!

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Bring your cover letter and CV

Make sure you know what’s in them, too! Re-read your CV so that the details are fresh in your mind.

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Re-read the job ad

Re-reading the job ad will help you remember what skills and attributes they are looking for.

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Be on time – but not too early

Your future employer is busy and may feel pressured if you turn up too soon. Be five minutes early at the most.

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Turn your phone off

You don’t want any distractions, and neither does your interviewer.

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Check your breath

Make sure you’re minty fresh (and avoid the tuna sandwiches before you go in!). Remember, coffee breath can be offensive too.

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Resist the Impulse, lay off the Lynx

Don’t overdo the deodorant spray. You want to knock ‘em dead, not knock ‘em out!

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Bring a pen and paper with you

Don’t be afraid to make a note or two if you need to.

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Remember we’re all human

Your interviewer is just a person too. They aren’t there to scare you, they are trying to find someone qualified that they would like to work with!

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Nervous? It's OK!

It’s OK to admit you are a little nervous. Everyone will be expecting that – they might even be a bit nervous themselves!

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Panic stations?

If you are really nervous or falter, all is not lost. Ask for a second, have a sip of water to stall for time, and re-group.

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Smile

Everyone tells you this, but actually it is important. Smiling can set the mood for a positive interview.

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Be honest

You will do much better if you answer as honestly as possible.

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Stuck for an answer?

If you don’t know the answer to a question, say so. You can say ‘I have done some research but haven’t come across that point’.
You won’t be expected to know everything.

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No idea?

If you don’t understand the question, say so. You can try re-phrasing it back to clarify. “Do you mean…?"

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Have questions ready

Have questions ready for them too. Even if it’s just one or two, maybe about something you may have read on the company’s website. It shows initiative and interest, and avoids an awkward pause – you will always be asked if you have any questions for them.

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Ask when you may hear back

Ask when they will be making a decision. That way you will have an idea how long the process may take. Tell them you look forward to hearing from them.

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Say ‘thank you’

Remember to thank the interviewer/s at the end of the interview – if you don’t remember their name/s just say ‘thanks so much for your time, it was great to meet you’.

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Don’t answer your phone or text

Turn your phone off – it won’t hurt for an hour or so.

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Don’t appear disinterested

Your potential employer is taking the time to meet you. Show you’re grateful for their interest by listening and answering as best you can.

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Don’t appear arrogant

Remember your interviewer will be more experienced than you. They don’t want a recent grad who thinks they know everything – this is a common complaint from employers.

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Don’t chew gum

If you must chew, lose the chewy till after the interview.

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Don’t over-embellish

If you used Indesign once at your friend’s place, that doesn’t make you a graphic designer. See also, ‘Don’t appear arrogant’.

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Don’t lie about your hobbies

You don’t want to get the job and have to keep pretending to be the new person who volunteers, speaks Spanish, loves indoor cricket and plays in a band.

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Don’t badmouth past employers

This will only put you in a negative light. Plus, it can be a small world – you never know who your past or future employer might be friends with.

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Not much experience? Don’t worry

Everyone knows a recent grad may not have much full-time work experience. Talk about the things you have done – don’t forget to mention any clubs, exchange programs or special awards.

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Make some notes

Jot down some notes directly after your interview. This will keep your impressions fresh in your mind. What you thought of them, how you think you went.

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File business cards

Keep any business cards you are offered. You never know when they might come in handy.

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Be patient

Remember that you may not hear either way for some time. The interview and review process can take a while.

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Don’t lose heart

If you don’t get the job you’ve interviewed for, sometimes it’s not you, it’s them! An employer might think they are not the right fit for you, rather than the other way around.

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To follow up, or not to follow up?

Some people advise getting feedback if you’re unsuccessful. It's perfectly acceptable to follow up but be prepared that you may not get much in the way of feedback.

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GO A-Z Employers

For a list of companies and organisations currently offering graduate positions visit the Graduate Opportunities website.

Following this link will take you out of this app to the GO website

GO Employer Search

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About

The GO – Nail That Job! app gives you great practical advice to help you in your career search. For more tips and hints on nailing the job you want visit Graduate Opportunities, Australia’s premier graduate jobs directory.

Legal disclaimer

*Disclaimer – this app is for entertainment and guidance purposes only and is not meant as a definitive guide to securing employment. Graduate Opportunities is not accountable for an individual’s job interview success or lack thereof.


Created for Graduate Opportunities Australia by Minnie Hutchings, Melbourne, Australia. 2013

Copyright © 2013 Graduate Opportunities Australia. All rights reserved.