Interview Skills

So you’ve landed an interview—congratulations! Being asked to an interview means the employer is interested in getting to know you. Just remember that an interview is an exchange of information between you and a prospective employer. It’s an opportunity to convince the employer that you’re the best person for the job, but it’s also a way of finding out if the job is a good fit for you.


  • Pre-interview: Key things you need to do to prepare for the interview

  • Interview day: Ensure that you make a good first impression

  • Post-interview: Get the most out of your experience

Delivering your best interview

The interview is more than just the time you spend meeting with your prospective employer. How you prepare and what you do after can play just as big a role. Following are some tips and strategies to help you deliver your best interview and increase the odds of landing your dream job.


What should I wear? How should I dress? What should I take with me? What do I say? These are just some of the things you’re probably wondering when you get the call or email inviting you to an interview. Take a deep breath, relax and let us do the work. We’ve outlined the key things you need to do to prepare for the interview.

  • Research the organization. Speak to people who work there. Search online in local or national newspapers. Use Google, the Industry Canada website ( and any other resources you can think of. The more you know about the organization and the position you’re applying for, the more effective you’ll be in an interview. Once you’ve done your research, create a few questions that you’d like to follow up on with your interviewers. It will show that you’ve done your homework and that you’re interested in the organization. Tip: Ask your alumni office or career services for contacts at the company you’re applying to.

  • Review the job description and your resumé. Make sure you know which resumé you used to apply for this position. Prepare a package for the interview and include your resumé, reference sheet, list of questions, and any relevant project work or portfolio items.

  • Practise answering interview questions and videotape your performance. Work with a friend who can critique your responses. You can also contact your local career centre; they may host workshops on how to approach interview questions or practice interview sessions.

  • Decide what you’re going to wear. Your clothes should be slightly more formal than what you would wear to work at that company. If you’re completing an MBA, your outfit probably consists of a suit; if you’re applying for a summer position in retail, your interview clothes will probably be more casual. Visit our section on dressing to impress to learn more. LINK TO SECTION 5.6

Interview day

The big day is finally here! Be calm and confident, and remember that you’ve done all you can to prepare. Here are a few points to ensure that you make a good first impression:

  • Turn off your cell phone before you enter the building.

  • Arrive 5 to 10 minutes early.

  • Greet the receptionist or administrative assistant in a friendly manner.

  • Try to relax!

  • Greet your interviewer by name, shake hands firmly, make good eye contact and smile.

To begin the interview, you’ll be asked a few “warm-up” questions (e.g., Did you find us alright? Are you enjoying this weather we’re having?). While you’re chatting and getting settled, arrange your resumé, pen and paper. You may want to ask permission to take notes. When the interview begins, listen carefully to each question and take your time before answering. Ask the interviewer if he or she would like you to expand on your answer.

Interview questions

Here are some of the interview questions you should be prepared to answer:

  • What are your major strengths?

  • What is your greatest weakness? Tip: Always be prepared to speak to your weaknesses and what you are doing to overcome them.

  • Describe a situation where you handled a delicate situation very effectively.

  • What attracted you to this position?

  • When you’re working in a team, which role comes most naturally to you?

  • Why do you want to work with this organization?

Many of these questions are behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interview questions are built on the idea that past behaviour will predict future behaviour. You can prepare for this type of question by practising response using the STAR formula:

  • Describe the Situation, Task or Timelines.

  • Outline the Action you took.

  • Outline the Results of your action.

The results section is important in helping you to demonstrate the value you will bring to an organization.

Your questions

After you’ve answered the interviewer’s questions, he or she will ask you for your questions. What you ask can be as important as how you respond to the interviewer’s own questions. It’s your opportunity to show what matters to you and that you’ve taken the time to research the organization. Be sure to prepare a list of intelligent questions. In a first interview, it’s probably best to stay away from questions about salary or training. Tip: Look for ways to create follow-up questions to some of the interviewer’s questions; it shows you’ve been paying attention.

Here are some of the questions you may want to ask:

  • What would you say are the organization’s greatest challenges for the next three years?

  • How will my performance be evaluated?

  • Whom would I be working with on a daily basis?

  • Could you describe the career path of someone who begins in this position?

  • What would an average day be like?

  • I read in the Globe’s business section that you plan to open a division in Saskatchewan. Will that move have an impact on this position? Tip: Ask questions that demonstrate your research.

  • When will you be making a decision?

  • What is the next step?


Watch for signs that the interview is over. If your interviewer is frequently checking the time, seems to be paying less attention to you or is getting restless, it may be time to excuse yourself. Once you know the time is up, here are a few tips to help leave a positive lasting impression:

  • Tell the interviewer that you want the job.

  • Repeat your top three qualifications for the position.

  • Ask the interviewer if he or she wants a copy of your reference sheet (which you have with you).

  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time.


Well done! You made it through the interview. But your work isn’t over yet. You should follow a few key steps to ensure that you stay fresh in the interviewer’s mind, and that you get the most out of your experience.

  • Immediately after the interview, make notes on what you learned. You’ll use this information in preparing for a second interview. Jot down your impressions on the organization and how you see yourself fitting into the workplace.

  • Write a thank-you email or note to your interviewer. Be sure to repeat your interest in the position and highlight your qualifications. If there’s anything important that you forgot to mention in the interview, include it in this note.

  • Rate your interview performance. Determine what came easily and what was more challenging. Be brutally honest, and practise the areas that you feel are weak.

Still want to learn more about how to give your best interview? Search the Career Options archives for more of our articles on interviews.