Job Interview Checklist: Essential Dos and Don'ts

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Man dressed in a costume for a job interview

Photo: Just one example of how NOT to dress for a job interview ..

Job interviews can be daunting, especially if you're getting ready for your first one. You might be wondering where to begin with your prep, (or where to stop..), but take a look through this checklist and you'll be well on your way to nailing some of the essentials.

For more in-depth information on preparing for job interviews and how to perform well on the big day, take a look at these top tips.

Interview Dos

DO write a 30 second summary of yourself and practise it over and over again. Cover who you are, your qualifications, any relevant experience and your skills & qualities.

DO think of five really good reasons why you want the job - think about things like learning a new skill, working with people etc. Write them down and learn them.

DO think of five really good reasons why you would be good at the job (remember that why you want the job and why you would be good at the job are very different things). 

DO learn five things (at least!) about the company or organisation you’re applying to. Why would someone hire you if you don’t know anything about them?!

DO have some examples from other experiences (school, extra-curricular or work-experience) that are relevant to whatever you’re applying for. They don’t have to be the same - just find the similarities - e.g. teamwork, customer service, problem solving. Be prepared to talk about them too.

DO remember that first impressions count - dress smart, brush your hair, brush your teeth,  smile and say 'hello, how are you' when you walk in the interview room.

DO sit up straight and smile. Body language is an important part of the impression you make throughout your interview.

DO practise - you wouldn’t be able to play the piano well without practising, so don’t expect to be able to interview without practising either! The good news is, you can improve with every interview you do.

Interview Don'ts

DON’T criticise other people when you talk about your experiences - it will make you sound difficult to work with, even if your criticism is fair!

DON’T assume that just because you put something in a cover letter, CV or application form that the interviewer will already know it - you MUST go over this important info at interview too. Unfortunately, many interviewers don’t read the written material before the interview!

For more advice about job applications, check out our post about how to write a cover letter.

DON’T give one word answers, even if a yes or no would literally answer the question. You must be able to show that you can expand on a question and give specific examples of your experience.

DON’T be silent. If you're stumped on a question, say so - and say why you can’t think of an answer. Interviewers always appreciate honesty. Ask the interviewer for more clarity or how they would answer it. If you can think of a similar question that you could answer, try to answer that one instead! 

DON’T dress for the wrong job. Wear clothes that are appropriate for the job you’re applying for. A job interview with a fashion magazine will probably require you to dress differently than for an interview with a bank. You can always call the employer before interview and ask what their standard dress code is, but to be safe, always wear something simple and smart (and no trainers!)

For more advice on dressing for a job interview, check out our post about what to wear to a job interview.

DON’T over do it on make-up or aftershave. Be neat and clean, but stick to your normal routine and you'll do just fine!

Thanks to Hutchinson Communications for drawing up this list of DOs and DON'Ts.  

Photo by Ted Murphy CC Attribution 2.0

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