Human Resources South Africa

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews

Your Definitive A-Z Guide to Interviews

May 18
08:32 2012


Resist the urge to tell the interviewer(s) your whole life story. Nerves can play havoc with self censorship and you might feel the urge to share that really ‘funny’ story when you were really drunk on B52 cocktails in Turkey and ended up at a nightclub waving your pants in the air….

Resist the urge to be really, really honest, saying that you only want the job is because you need something to pay the bills, this is not acceptable.

Resist moaning and complaining especially about your previous or current employers (or role). Warning! Many industries are small, and the chances of your interviewer knowing someone at your old or current place of work is very likely – so you could find your self slagging-off their best friend.


Smiling instantly builds rapport with the interviewers, and don’t be put off if they don’t smile back. You may have found yourself in an old fashioned interview technique of god cop – bad cop. Ensure your smile is genuine – a fake smile will be spotted a mile away.

Take your time

Don’t gabble your words and if you feel like you are rushing, then ask for a few moments to gather your thoughts or better still ask if the question could be repeated at the end of the interview so you can buy yourself some time to think.

Understand what is expected of you

Will there be a test? Will there be a group interview with other candidates? Will you be interviewed by a panel of interviewers? Will you being attending a lunch etc

These are all important aspects of the interview that you know before you step into the interview….remember ask and gather the information that you need.

Value who you are

High self esteem is important and body language and grooming will do well for you here. There is nothing wrong with saying how good you are at something, how successful a project was or what fabulous process you implemented in you current role.

The trick here is to be confident without being arrogant. Interviews are a great opportunity to tell the world how good you are and why you are the right person for the job. No one else can do that for you, so get comfortable in talking about yourself in a positive way.

Wading in

You might find a combination of nerves, and enthusiasm might cause you to wade in with answers before the interviewer has even finished the question. STOP. Slow down, let them finish and then take a few seconds to think about what you are going to say. It’s better to take a few moments and seem thoughtful, than to rush in and regret what falls out of your mouth.


It is absolutely totally unacceptable to use expletives (swear words) during your interview. This may seem like common sense but I am always amazed, or rather shocked at some of the language used during interview process. If you are someone who has a natural habit of using strong language in your everyday dialogue, then please be aware of this and self censor accordingly. Some interviews can be very laid back and even if the interviewer uses mildly offensive language, please do not follow suit.


It is important to bring an essence of you to the interview. It is very likely that all the candidates for the interview will say roughly the same thing in their responses to interview questions. What’s important is bringing your own experiences to the interview so they get a sense of you, who you are and how you will fit into to the organisation. It is also vital that you know your strengths and weaknesses.

Be careful here, if asked what your weaknesses are, make sure they are relevant to work (no need to say you cry every time you watch a Disney film) and also end it on a positive note.

For example, “I like to have things organised really well so spend extra time on planning and preparation, some may think this is a weakness because of the time I spend doing this, however it can also be considered a strength since good preparation work is vital and saves time in the long run“.

Zest for life

It is important to show you have a life outside of work; the key here is to make sure you have a good life-work balance. It’s absolutely fine to show you are sociable, but take care you are not describing yourself as a party animal. The interviewers will unfortunately have visions of you rolling into work with hangovers or not being focused on your work.

If asked about your hobbies please feel free to express what you do. Team sports are good, as are hobbies or interests that are very different from your working subject. If you love your work so much that you don’t have any outside interests it might be advantageous to consider bringing some balance to your life and discover some outside interests.

And finally… always thank the interviewers at the end, ask when you would hope to hear from them and say that you are still very interested in the role, even if you are not. It is better that you make the decision if you want the job, rather than the interviewers deciding if they want you!

Sandi Sayer

As a professional and experienced career consultant I work with clients to find solutions to their career problems. These range from finding the right career to dealing with serious issues in the work place. I have over 20 years of experience working in the pharmaceutical, retail and hospitality areas and also running my own successful Life Coaching practice. Specialties: Career change, Job hunting, dealing with work place bullies, anger management, perform CV and portfolio reviews, Dealing with redundancy/dismissals/long term illness etc, Interview techniques

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