Typically, interviews follow a simple structure. If you know what that structure is, you may be more at ease and be able to relax and really concentrate on what is being asked of you.

  • Introductions and exchange of pleasantries.
  • Casual conversation, for example, the weather. It is important you engage with your interviewer/s for this conversation, they are trying to connect with and learn about you as a person
  • Formal conversations. Don't be shy to talk about your achievements as long as you're being honest. You are essentially there to promote yourself.
  • Direct questioning. Most interviews are constructed using four underlying themes, so it pays to be prepared.

Common underlying themes:

  • Who are you?
  • What can you do for us?
  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • How much will you cost?

Preparation for each of these themes is essential to ensure you are not caught off guard during the interview. With adequate preparation of these four themes, you can be more self-confident that you will have the ability to recognise what is actually being asked of you.  Keep in mind that interviewers want to get you talking.  This is your opportunity to make a solid connection.

Actual questions typically asked:

  1. 'Tell me about yourself'

    The underlying theme is: Who are you?
    What they want is a summary of your individual background. Consider answering using:
    • Your education
    • Work experience
    • Achievements (personal, educational or work-related)
    • Where you were born, the schools or learning institutions you attended
    • Goals for the future
    When preparing, make sure you identify with each point and be sure to say them aloud so you can form a mental picture and recognition when required.

  2. 'What can you offer our organisation?'

    The underlying theme is: What can you do for us?
    Consider your attributes:
    • Transferable skills (previous skills or experience that can be applied to a new situation)
    • Specialised skill or knowledge
    • Talents or personal qualities

  3. 'Why do you want to work for us?'

    The underlying theme is usually the same.
    You should have conducted some independent research about the company prior to applying for the position. Consider discussing what you have learned about the organisation, this shows initiative:
    • Organisational structure
    • Clientele or customers
    • Activities they perform
    • Market niche
    • Employee development opportunities
    • Prospect for advancement
    • Competitors

  4. 'What sort of salary did you have in mind?'

    The underlying theme is: How much will you cost?
    Ensure you know what salary range was documented in the recruitment advertisement. It's ok to ask what the salary range is if it was not listed. Be sure to let them know you are making a general enquiry.
    Consider the following:
    • When asked, provide a salary range rather than an exact amount (e.g., $40,000 to $45,000 per annum or $19 to $25 per hour)
    • Ensure you have researched award wages or industry standards before you attend an interview. Research by asking friends in similar roles what they earn. It is best not to have overinflated expectations. Equally, if you come in too low, you may be duping yourself.
    • Negotiation can take place if you give a range.

Other traditional questions:

  1. What do you think the position involves?
  2. What do you think you have to offer this company
  3. What would you say your weaknesses are? (this is a behavioural question)
  4. What are your long-term career objectives?
  5. Do you have plans to engage in further study?
  6. How would you describe yourself?
  7. What sports have you been involved recently; do you belong to an organisation or club?
  8. What do you see as your greatest strength? (this is a behavioural question)

Other topics that should be discussed before closing the interview:

  • Conditions of work within the organisation.
  • Regular hours and overtime
  • Leave.
  • Training and development opportunities.

Upon closing the interview there may be:

  • Question time.
  • Closing statements.
  • Thank-you for your participation, handshake, conclusion of appointment and when and how you can expect to be contacted in the future.