How to prepare yourself for a job interview

Susan Frankel
Jobs trainers will tell you there is no magic formula for getting a job. The way forward is to keep telling yourself that you have skills and be prepared for the interview. Being prepared for an interview will not just give you a sense of your own achievement. A potential employer will also look at you positively.
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Susan Frankel on 10/07/2013
Man standing against a wall holding an iPad that displays the word "jobless"

Being prepared for your interview makes all the difference.

It doesn't matter how many times you go for a job interview, you can only get better if you take the advice of the professionals who know the first things a potential employer will be looking for.

Tim (not his real name) is an experienced job search skills trainer used by Centrelink around Melbourne to help groups of people identify suitable jobs, get their resumes into shape and guide them through the steps in a job interview. He has some supportive, handy tips. He says we have all been knocked back for a job. Most of us have put in many applications. Very often we either don't get a reply to come in for an interview, or lose the job to another person who also put in for it. It doesn't mean someone is better than you are. What it could mean, though, is the person who got an offer was better prepared. It could have been that you were distracted for a moment, or you didn't really have the skills the ad clearly asked for. Maybe there was someone just that little bit more suited to the job or company. So stop blaming yourself.

Get Serious and sharpen up!

It is important that you get serious about how to be at your best. That way, you'll feel confident when you face the person who is looking for a good fit for the job you're after. According to Tim, below are the important things to put your efforts into before you front up.

  • Arrive early to the appointment: Make sure you work out how much time you need to get to the appointment so you are not flustered. You can then sit and refocus while you wait to be called for your interview.
  • Look your best and act professionally: A day or so before the interview decide what will look presentable for the job you are going for. In the job interview, focus on what the interviewer is saying to you and make eye contact. Bring your attention to what is being said to you. Stay focused and do not look aimlessly around the room.
  • Bring an extra resume and cover letter: That will mean you will have extra copies if you need it. 
  • Be confident: When you prepare for your interview in advance, you will have thought things through so you don't feel frazzled and unprepared.
  • Be enthusiastic: You want the job and feel you can do it, so show you are interested. Let them see you are positive and are prepared to put in your energy.
  • Have a good understanding of the job qualifications and requirements: Read through the job description carefully, and then decide if you have the skills the employer wants. Are you sure you know and can do what is asked for? If you want to know more, there is often a phone number and the name of someone at the bottom of the ad that you can get further information from. 
  • Practice: Go over some of the tasks you have outlined in your resume so you feel comfortable talking at the interview about what you have achieved when the time comes.
  • Be prepared – with questions: Do some research on the company. Make them see you are interested in the firm and the job.
  • Follow up – If you don't get the job, put in a polite call to the interviewer for feedback. Ask if it's possible if the interviewer can briefly tell you how you went, both negative and positive things. Constructive criticism will help you sharpen your skills and help you communicate your strengths for the job you're going for.

Next in our Interview Skills series, 'Giving the right answers'.

For more information on jobs for people with disabilities, visit the Job Access website,

To read more about the Victorian State Disability Plan, visit

Readers comments (5)

But what if you have a disability?

Exactly Graham. These are all the helpful tips I learnt in year 10, but there are many more serious obstacles when you have a disability. If you are in a wheelchair, how can you rely on Melbourne's multipurpose taxis to get you to the interview? At the interview if your disability is obvious how do you make people see past it? If it is not obvious at what point and how do you disclose it? If the workplace is not a public building, how do you explain things like that it has to be wheelchair accessible and have appropriate facilities? How do you bargain for shorter working hours to accommodate your energy limitations? Even if you have outstanding university qualifications, how do you make people focus on these instead of this herd of ugly elephants in the room?

Divine is for people with disabilities and without having to identify people with disabilities every time an article goes up, it was thus written for people with disabilities. All job seekers, whether they have disabilities or not, are advised how to best prepare for an interview. A further story will address equal opportunity and discrimination issues in Victoria.

Gary. There is an article in the pipeline for this issue, firstly taking into account the law and legislation via Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission and secondly, barriers to employment for individuals and ways to deal with them. Regards Susan

This is one article in a series. The series focuses on every day tactics as well as more specific things like disclosure of disability.

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