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5 ways to ace any job interview

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It doesn’t take a briefcase stuffed with used fivers: smarter prep can get you through the trickiest of interviews. Save the Student has the inside scoop. 

If you’ve nabbed an interview, you’ve nailed the biggest hurdle: someone out there already believes you can do the job. Congrats. Your CV has run a gauntlet of Ninja Warrior-like proportions – all you have to do is dry off and do your piece to camera! Here’s a strategy to help you shine.

1. Get your X-Ray specs out

Want a heads-up on interview questions? The job ad/description and any person spec they’ve thrown your way has the clues you need (ask for them if you weren’t sent copies!). Look past the jaunty phrases and try to pick out what they’re really saying – then get examples that prove you’ve got the necessaries.

  • Bags of ideas: will you pull your weight? “Pitch me an idea for our next marketing campaign”. 
  • Deep knowledge of social media: can you keep us current, or are you bogged down in Lolcats? “What do you think the next online trend will be, and why?” 
  • Flexible approach / willingness to adapt: are you more hands-on than home-time? “Tell me about a time you put in extra effort to get a job done.” 

Make a comprehensive list of potential Qs and As and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse! If you need help, we’ve got killer answers to tough interview questions right here.

2. Read up on your employer

Pre-interview snooping – check company profiles at glassdoor – can give you a sense if this is somewhere you want to work as much as help predict questions:

  • How do they rate in their industry?
  • What awards have they won?
  • Who are their top players (or competition)?
  • What’s their business model?
  • What is it about them that appeals to you, and why are you a good fit?
  • What do you like (or not!) about their website/campaigns?

They key is looking critically and forming your own opinions. If you’re asked “what do you know about us?” – tell them something they don’t already know.

3. Nix your nerves

Interviews are a two-way street: they’re as much about answering your questions as about being grilled. Do you like your interviewer? Do they make you feel welcome and at ease? Does the company give you good vibes. 

The point is, moving away from a desperate “OMG please hire me” mindset gives you emotional distance – and clarity – and can make it easier to be yourself and speak your piece. We’re not saying be arrogant or wear board shorts. We are saying an interview isn’t trial-by-jury. It’s more like a first date: you both need to match to make it work long term.

4. Do the obvious

  • Dry run the interview – more than once if you can.
  • Prep your look in advance, polish your shoes and take care of the details so you’re not distracted on the day: make a checklist.
  • Being late is an own goal. Always, always get there early (wait in a local caff if you need to).
  • Make sure you understand the question and take a breath before doing your spiel. Talk slowly.
  • Stop talking when you’ve made all your points – it’s the interviewer’s job to fill awkward silence, not yours!
  • It’s not keyhole surgery: the worst that can happen won’t be fatal. You’ve done the prep – give it your best shot, enjoy it, and just see what happens!
  • If it doesn’t go your way, don’t take it personally – take something from it. Review, revise, and aim to build a better burger.

5. Take the long (long) view

Did you know starting interview prep a week before could be at least six months too late? Getting the kind of experience, qualifications or knowledge employers are after is a long-haul thing. That doesn’t mean you need to panic – it just means scoping out job ads (or seeing what your career ‘heroes’ on have on their LinkedIn profiles) well before you start applying. And then you work on getting the goods. Good luck, amigos!