How To Win At A Job Interview

You know you'd be ace at the job. Here's what to do so your interviewer thinks so too.


They liked your CV and now they’ve called you in for an interview to see if you’re as good IRL as you are on paper. But interviews are scary, aren’t they? What should you say to really hammer home your strengths, what can you do to stand out against another candidate, and what should you do when you really, really don’t know how to answer a question?

Before the interview

OK, let’s break this down, shall we? “Interview prep begins at the application stage,” says Marielle Kelly, Careers Advisor at Trinity College. So you wanna go right back to your CV and tot up all the things you’re deadly at. “Look closely at every single point and think about how you tick all the boxes for the role,” she recommends.

What to wear

Choose something you’d wear for a normal work day, but a little bit more formal.
Keep accessories simple and non-distracting.
Wear natural make-up. Think nude lippie, a slick of mascara and a subtle pink blush.
Avoid anything too tight, too low, too plunging or too uncomfortable.
It’s vital that you can walk in your shoes.

Next? Arm yourself with some killer examples to really let your experience shine. “Follow the CARR structure when looking for examples,” recommends Marielle. That’s Challenge, Action, Result and Resonance to you ‘n’ me. Think about a challenge you’ve faced at work. What action did you take to fix it, what was the result of your action, and what was the knock-on from there? Have plenty of examples up your sleeve so you can showcase how you’ve gone from zero to hero throughout your career.

During the interview

Now it’s interview time. Marielle recommends having your own agenda too. “Think about the three things you want to be sure they know about you, and find ways of weaving this information into your answers,” she says. “If you wait for them to ask the right question, you may never get a chance to tell them what you want them to know. There’s nothing worse than walking out of an interview and thinking ‘oh no, I forgot to tell them x!’” An interview’s a two way street – don’t be afraid to steer the conversation in your direction so you can edge in some vital info.

But what if the interviewer springs a sticky question and you don’t know how to answer it? “Take a moment to figure out what they’re trying to find out, and answer accordingly,” suggests Marielle. “It’s okay not to fire off the first thing that comes into your head.

“Candidates are usually thrown off by questions that have negative connotations,” she continues. That’s stuff like ‘what are your weaknesses?’, or ‘tell me about a time you failed at something’. But don’t panic. “Interviewers aren’t trying to catch you out with these questions,” Marielle clarifies. “They’re trying to find out how you manage your weaknesses, so think about something you used to struggle with, and tell them about the steps you’ve taken to overcome that.” Maybe you sucked at customer service but took advice from a manager to improve your skills. That shows you’re willing to work at the things you’re not so hot on.

Lastly, “think about the interview as a great opportunity to show your potential employer how suitable you are for the role, and to suss out if you’d like to work for them,” recommends Marielle. “The important thing to remember is that, no matter what the employer’s asking, all they really want to know is can you do the job; will you do the job, and will you fit with the organisation.”

After the interview

Now that the hard part’s over it’s important to follow up. Send your interviewer a thank you email and ask them if there’s anything they’d like you to clarify. This one simple step might be the thing that sets you apart from the other candidates. And if you don’t get the job? Try and see it as a learning curve. Ask your interviewer if they can give you feedback, because that way you can always improve for next time.

Pic credit: Next