Make an impression in a job interview

Job interviews are always exciting. The purpose of the interview is to find out how suitable and motivated you are for the job. This page gives you hints about how to prepare for job interviews.

Prepare carefully

If you are well prepared, you can relax in the interview and be yourself. Being a little nervous does not matter.

Before the interview, do the following

  • Find out information about the employer.
  • Refresh your memory about the job you applied for and what was said in the ad.
  • Remind yourself of your skills by going through your CV. Be also prepared to say in what aspects of the job you might need help.
  • Be prepared to explain your motives and reasons for changing jobs, gaps in your CV and your life choices.
  • Think about questions that you want to ask about the job and the employee.

A positive first impression is very important when we meet people. Select your clothes to suit the job you applied for and the employer. Bring with you your application, your certificates of employment and education and your portfolio if you  have one. Arrive at the interview on time.

Why should we select you of all people?

In the interview, the recruiter establishes whether or not you have a genuine interest in the job and assesses your skills and competence. Above all, the interview will provide the employer information about your interaction skills and attitudes. If you are interviewed by a panel, pay equal attention to all of its members.

Remember that your gestures, facial expressions and your way of talking say a lot about you. Listen to the questions you are asked, and take your time thinking about the answers. Be honest in your replies, but also decide what it would be best to leave out.

There are two parties in filling a vacancy. When given a chance, ask questions about the job and the employer. Well-prepared questions may spark a good discussion that the interviewer will remember. Also be prepared to answer unexpected questions. The interviewer may, for example, test your language skills by changing languages.

The interview usually has three stages:

  • In the beginning, the conversation often is about general subjects – with the aim of getting an overall picture of the interviewee.
  • The questions in the middle of the interview examine your level of motivation. Questions about your career and career changes will also come up at this stage. The interviewers will also wish to know what kind of person you are and what your values and attitudes are.
  • Towards the end of the interview, you will discuss practical issues related to the job, including the salary, working hours and the starting date. The interviewer will often also explain to you what the next step of the application process will be – if not, you can ask about it yourself at the end of the interview.

After the interview, think about how you feel the interview went. What went well, and where could you have done better?

If you are not selected, find out from the employer or the interviewer what factors where stressed in the selection and which ones influenced the decision not to select you.

Questions that typically come up in an interview

Some of the questions that typically come up in a job interview are listed below. You should practise answering these. The better you have prepared yourself, the more confident you will feel in the interview.

  • In a few words, tell me something about yourself.
  • Describe your current or most recent employment relationship.
  • Why did you apply for this job?
  • Why do you wish to change jobs?
  • What are your future targets?
  • What kind of a colleague or a supervisor are you?
  • What are the most important things you have learnt in your previous jobs?
  • What would your dream job or tasks be like?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • How will your strengths help you to make a success of your job? What have you done or intend to do to work on your weaknesses?
  • What motivates you as an employee?
  • In what kind of a work community do you feel at home?
  • In your opinion, what is a good workplace like?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a team?
  • Why are you applying for a job that does not match your prior work experience and education?
  • How well do you work under pressure? Give a concrete example.
  • Are you prepared to travel for work?
  • Are you prepared to be flexible about your working hours?
  • What is your salary requirement?
  • What have you learnt in your previous jobs?
  • Which one of your achievements are you particularly proud of?
  • Why should we select you of all people?
  • What would you like to know about us?
  • Who could give you a reference?
  • If we call the person giving you a reference, what will he or she tell us about you?

They may ask you several questions that are similar, or the order of the questions may feel completely random. In fact, the interviewer may be testing your ability to cope with pressure.

What kind of questions do you not have to answer in a job interview?

There are certain questions that you do not need to answer in a job interview. They include questions about your

  • religion
  • family relations
  • sexual orientation
  • political convictions.

Psychological assessments and aptitude tests

In addition to a personal interview, the employer may also test your competence and suitability for the job in many other ways.

There are many methods for assessing professional competence, for example giving a demonstration in a setting similar to the actual work. The task may also involve team work or a small presentation.

A psychological assessment finds out or predicts how well you will cope in the job by examining your mentality, skills, abilities, characteristics or operating models.

For example, the employer may use a psychological assessment to find out

  • how you solve problems
  • how you cope with pressure
  • what your interaction style and personality are like – in other words, if you are the right kind of person.

The employer has the duty to ensure that the tests are based on reliable methods and that the information obtained by the tests is correct. Persons carrying out the tests must have the requisite expertise.

The best way to prepare for the tests is to be yourself and keep an open mind. If you wish, you are always entitled to receive a copy of the test report or oral feedback.