Human Resources South Africa

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews

May 18
08:32 2012

Killer skill set

Don’t just think of qualifications and experience when preparing for your interview, chances are you will have a fabulous skill set too. It is very usual for all of us to play down what we do so well. If you made a list of all your skills most, if not all, would be transferable to anything you decide to do.

Remember soft skills are just as important as hands-on skills. So if you are an excellent negotiator, good listener, a natural leader or you just have the ability to brighten a persons day, then remember to mention this and prepare examples where you can illustrate your excellent talents.


I have put luck in this list as a number of my clients insist that getting the job is more about luck than it is about anything else. I don’t agree, if you have done your preparation, dressed according, have a positive attitude with lots of enthusiasm you will definitely be short listed or better still offered the role.


Unless asked, refrain from asking about money/salary or any other job perks at the interview. If you are asked any salary related questions by the interviewer, then by all means answer appropriately. What you want to avoid is to be seen as only wanting the job for the money. Even in a sales environment where salary and bonuses are a huge motivating factor; interest in the company and product are vitally important and are very appreciated.


We all get nervous prior to an interview even the interviewers. Nerves are good, it means adrenalin is pumping which will help you focus and think on your feet. Avoid using negative coping mechanisms such a drugs and alcohol to calm your nerves. Instead, you can look to Bach natural flower remedies, deep breathing exercises or positive affirmations to help you feel really confident.  


Especially to other people’s opinions. This is particularly important if you are in a group interview setting and you have to deal with other people’s opinions as well as your own. It is important to be able to express yourself without alienating others.

With certain interview techniques, some very emotive questions may be asked just to see how you react. Be honest but fair and if in doubt use something like the ‘sandwich technique’ where you say something positive prior to saying something controversial (or negative) and then follow up with something positive or neutral at the end. This will ensure the interviewers are under no illusion that you can handle opinions in a balanced way.


Like all things in life, preparation is key to success. Please don’t go into an interview thinking you can wing-it!

You may want to consider some of the following:

  • Working out the travel times to the place of interview
  • Research on the company and position
  • Presentation (if required)
  • Your interview questions to ask interviewers
  • Clothes and shoes
  • Getting a good night sleep the night before
  • Eating something at least 30 minutes prior to the interview
  • Keeping hydrated (good for the brain)  


Now this is an interesting one and really depends on which industry you are going for an interview in. I have had clients in the past who are very individual and quirky in their appearance and lifestyle. They are keen to show their true selves at an interview, but unfortunately this can go against you. So if you fall into this category please be aware of the industry you are trying to get a job in.

If you are going for a job in the fashion or media/music industry individuality is crucial, it would be perfectly acceptable to show piercings, tattoos, modern hair cuts and hi-fashion clothing at your interview. However if you are going for a role in an industry slightly more conservative, for example, the pharmaceutical or banking industry, sporting a Mohican or wearing fetish stilettos to your interview would not be advisable.

If you are unsure of your interview ‘look’, check out the company’s website, have a look at the photos of the staff (even if it is just stock footage), this should give you a feel for what they expect of their personnel. If there are no clues from the website, by all means check back with the recruitment agency or ask a reliable friend for advice on your attire.

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