The Job Interview

If your written application has made the shortlist, you will be called for an interview. The interview process will vary from organisation to organisation, and may involve more than one interview; sometimes up to there (3) interviews to secure a position.

You will normally be interviewed by at least two people, and in some organisations there will be panel that could comprise up to eight persons. The interview process may also include psychometric testing to determine personality factors relevant to the job, such as leadership potential, organisational skills, ability to work under pressure, etc.

When called for interview, you must consider:


It is vital you prepare for an interview as it will be evident during the interview process, and ensures you perform your best I the day. Interview preparation includes:

  • Knowing the exact location of the interview and plan your trip in advance
  • Doing some research about the organisation – look at its website – what is its purpose, mission, history, values (an indication of its culture), structure, location/s, etc?
  • Reading over your CV and application the night before the interview – make sure you know your strengths and achievements – and are able to articulate those verbally when asked at the interview
  • Reading over the job description for the job you are being interviewed for. Try and anticipate some questions you may be asked based on the duties and selection criteria of the position. 
  • Preparing an answer for commonly asked, yet difficult questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “what do you have to contribute to our organisation” or ‘what are your weaknesses”?
  • The possibility of  Criminal Record Checks – note that some organisations, such as some government departments (defence, police, health, education, intelligence, etc) and/or positions that have contact with children under 18, will require you to have a criminal record check if you are considered appointable or successful. This is normally mentioned in the job advertisement.

Performing on the Day (at the interview)

  • Dress well – business attire always for men and women, and ensure your clothes and shoes are clean and ironed and that your person is also clean and tidy.  Do not wear too much aftershave or perfume to an interview; do not chew gum
  • Be punctual – arrive 15 minutes early. A late arrival indicates you are disorganised and not taking the interview process seriously. Remember the interviewers have made their time available to interview you and potentially offer you a job.
  • Turn-off your mobile phone before the interview - a ringing phone during the interview may annoy some interviewers, and will distract you from your answers;
  • Be polite and courteous to an interviewer/s 
  • Do not argue with an interviewer;
  • Be polite and courteous to reception staff – sometimes interviewers ask them later about their impression of you!
  • When you are met by the interviewer, look the interviewer in the eye and shake their hand firmly (for men and women).
  • Stand up straight, and when seated, do not slouch. Remain upright in a comfortable position – you may rest you hands in your lap or on the table;
  • Do no fidget in an interview (move around in your chair, play with your tie, jewellery, etc) – it makes you look nervous and unconfident;
  • Do not ask the interviewer for refreshments – if you are offered refreshments you may accept if you would like to, but do not ask first.
  • Listen to questions carefully, and answer them clearly and concisely – do not waffle or add irrelevant information – interviewers will become irritated or bored if you talk about matters that are not related to the questions they ask you.
  • Have some questions prepared for the interviewer at the end. These should be about the job and the company – do not just ask about salary or holidays - as that will appear as your only interest in the role. Do not ask questions that have been already covered in the interview.
  • At the end, thank the interviewers for their time.
  • Try not to be too nervous!

Interview Samples and Tips:

These YouTube clips provide an example of a good interview, and general interview tips:

Managing the Interview Outcome 

After the interview, the interviewers will decide who:

  • is appointable (can do and is suitable for the job); and
  • is not appointable (cannot do and/or is not suitable for the job)

Those who are appointable will be ranked in order of preference and the interviewers will take many factors into account, such as overall interview performance, technical knowledge, motivation for the job, whether the candidate will fit into the organisation’s culture, interpersonal skills, etc.

Those ranked first and sometimes second and third will have their references checked by the interviewer – this is normally a telephone call and the interviewer will usually confirm (check) some of the answers you gave at the interview, and may ask about your interpersonal skills, relationships with colleagues and clients, your organisational skills, as a guide.

If you are offered the position, you will normally be telephoned by the interviewer and made a verbal offer. Usually some negotiations occur during this phone call, such as salary details, start date, whether a criminal record or other checks are needed, etc.

This is also a good opportunity for you to ask the organisation further questions about superannuation arrangements, staff development opportunities, promotional opportunities, leave entitlements or other benefits available (such as study leave, etc). This is then confirmed by sending you a formal offer letter that is your contract with the company.

If you are unsuccessful you may receive notice in writing from the company – this usually occurs at least four weeks after the interview (and after the successful candidate has formally accepted the job). Note that not all organisations send unsuccessful letters. 

Didn't get the job? Keeping your spirits high

You will not be successful in every job you apply for, and getting your first graduate job is arguably the most difficult job to obtain. Remember you will be competing with others for every job you apply for, and employers have a choice of candidates.

If you are unsuccessful after the job interview, it will be disappointing, but the following tips may help you:

  • Ask the interviewer for feedback – this will give you a chance to reflect on and improve your performance next time;
  • Reduce rejection sensitivity by knowing that being turned down for a job doesn't mean you have failed as a person. It means your presentation might have failed, or there was a legitimate reason you weren't hired. Perhaps the company hired internally or picked a candidate better qualified for the job.
  • Keep applying for as many new jobs that you are qualified for  – each time you are offered an interview there is new hope and opportunity;
  • Ensure that you maintain professional and personal networks as mediums of support
  • Consider making an appointment with an organisational psychologist or career coaching service to give you professional support and guidance 

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