Making a good first-round interview impression

Many people find job interviews intimidating, but there's no great mystery about what interviewers are looking for or the questions they'll ask.

Be prepared and present well

Which means it's not too hard to arrive well prepared. Dress well – it's always better to be overdressed if in doubt. Your interviewers need to be able to picture you working in their company and representing their brand if you're in a customer-facing role.

You may also find yourself being interviewed anywhere, from a noisy coffee shop to a corporate boardroom. You might be meeting one very friendly person or a formal interview panel with up to five people, possibly including the company's owner or CEO. Whatever the situation you find yourself in, try to give the impression that you're perfectly comfortable with it.

What to say

Lots of applicants turn up to interviews with only a vague idea of what the company does and what the role involves. You‘ll no doubt be asked what you know about the company and the position on offer, and it's obvious when you haven't done any research. This shows you're either not serious about the job or not the type of person who can be trusted to prepare properly for important meetings. Either way, don't expect your application to go any further.

Google "common interview questions" before the interview and make sure you have responses ready for the topics likely to be discussed. As a general rule, it's good to have three answers ready for any question – for example, the three qualities you have that will benefit your employer, or three examples of how you've dealt with workplace conflict in the past.

Many interviewers use ‘behavioural interviewing', which assumes the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour. Always be aware that when you're being asked questions, such as how you've previously dealt with challenging workplace situations, the interviewer is looking for evidence you have the people skills as well as the technical abilities to do the job well.

Finish strongly

At the end of the interview, you'll be invited to ask your interviewer(s) any questions you have. Make sure you have three intelligent questions ready to go, but this isn't the time to ask about salaries.

If you're preparing for an interview, it's a good idea to ask your teachers and lecturers for advice, or contact student services for career counselling. If you're interested in a career change, or simply looking to expand your skill set, you can visit TAFE NSW and see the wide variety of courses on offer.