6 ways to up your interview game & land your dream job

Let’s face it, no matter how long you’ve been in the game, the job interview process is daunting. It can turn even the calmest of people into a hot mess.

We sat down with industry expert Trish Gray, Learning Adviser (Careers), to discover the dos and don’ts.

Get a one up on the competition with our tips and really nail your next job interview.

Follow these six tips to interview success

1. Research and prepare

Find out everything you can – about the company, the position, the industry, and even the person hiring you. Study the business' core values and prepare how you align yourself to these.

LinkedIn is a great resource you can tap into. Make sure your profile is polished and up to date.

Speaking of social media, go through your Facebook and Instagram, and either switch your profiles to private, or seriously review your history. Because many employers will do their research too!

2. The secret to calming your nerves

Sometimes nerves can distract you from your best performance. Arrive early, find the bathrooms, take a seat, centre yourself, and take a few deep breaths.

Being early also allows you to recover from the journey there. Bring water and slowly sip at it – this will help reduce your heart rate.

In the interview, try not to fidget, and if you lose concentration or you don’t understand a question, politely ask the interviewer to repeat it. It’s a sign of respect that you’re trying to understand. They asked you here because they want to meet you – remember that!

3. Make the best first impression

A first impression is made in 30 seconds. Give yourself the best chance by looking sharp and smelling good. Remember that overpowering cologne can be just as offensive and distracting as body odour, so don’t overdo it!

You want to be the sleekest dressed person there when you arrive. Use people’s names if you know them and always thank them for the opportunity to interview. Showing respect shows that you value them.

If you can, check out the workplace a few days before and get a sense of their style (and learn exactly how long it takes to get there).

4. Never say never

When you’re asked a question and you don’t know the answer, try and avoid saying, ‘I don’t know’. Or if you don’t have a particular skillset that’s desired, never respond ‘no, I don’t have that skill'.

A great response is, 'I'm interested in finding out more about [skill]. I understand that’s something your company does well, and I’d be keen to become proficient in it'. Prepare a response with a comparable experience or skill you have. If you’ve researched the role well, you’ll know if you don’t have a particular skill, so prepare what steps you could take to develop that.

5. Know your worth

Make sure you know your worth – and the worth of the job – before you set foot in that interview room.

If this is a great career-boosting opportunity and you’re just starting out, the importance of gaining experience will outweigh any pay packet. Though we’re not saying work below minimum wage – unless it's an unpaid internship, of course!

Research industry pay standards – you can do this with online resources like PayScale. If you accept the job and pass the probationary period, that’s another opportunity to discuss salary. If the curiosity is killing you in the early stages, you could tactfully ask about the remuneration package, even about superannuation – it’s a more subtle way to ask.

6. Strengthen your weaknesses

Many employers will ask about your weaknesses as a way to observe your more honest side – and see how you handle a difficult question.

Never tell an interviewer that you’re bad at something. And avoid answering with an attribute that the job requires. If it’s a project management job, don’t say you’re disorganised or struggle to meet deadlines (even if that’s true!).

An important part of your answer should be demonstrating self-improvement. You should include details about the steps you’re taking to learn a skill or correct a weakness. For example, instead of saying you’re disorganised, say you sometimes have a hard time delegating tasks so you take on more than you should. But you’re getting coaching to work on your assertiveness and mutual trust in colleagues to make this work better.

Just graduated or still studying & need career support?

VU's Learning Hub online offers recent graduates and current students career advice and academic support. You'll gain access to the online jobs board, career resources, virtual interview practice, drop-in sessions, workshops and mentoring.

Recently graduated? Keep in touch and check out the benefits just for you, thanks to the VU Alumni Association.

Trish Gray is a Learning Adviser (Careers) based at VU's Learning Hub.