your guide to a job interview success.

Consecutive months of rising employment rates  spell good news for Canadian job seekers. But no matter what’s happening with the job market, if you don't interview well, you may not be able to land your next job. Even employers who are eager to bring on new candidates want to hire people who can demonstrate a good fit for the job. 

It's easy to fall into the trap of seeing a job interview as another item to check off your job-hunt to-do list. But interviews are much more than the last task standing between you and your new position. At their best, interviews are a conversation between a candidate and the potential employer. During that conversation, both the interviewer and the job applicant should assess whether or not the position (and the person) is a good fit.

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interview basics

During interviews employers are trying to get to know you and find out if you’re a good fit for their organization. Good interviews shouldn’t make the job interview feel like a trap (where they’re waiting for you to mess up). Instead it should feel like you’re mutually getting to know one another. Good interviewers will focus on:

  • Getting to know more about your skills and experience. The interviewer may start with your application or resume and ask questions to help them form a more in-depth picture of what you bring to the job.
  • Learning more about you personally. This doesn't mean personal stuff like whether you're married, have kids or deal with a health issue — those are all off-the-table questions for interviewers. Instead, potential employers want to gain insight into your personality so they can make a decision about how you might fit in with their company culture and existing team.
  • Gauging whether you want the job and will be a good investment. If an employer thinks you're only there to check off a box or get a position to pay today's bills, they may not be as excited to hire you. Employers are often looking for talent that will provide long-term value.

Find advice and job interview tips for a wide range of questions and scenarios. Browse the Randstad job interview blog for information that ranges from mastering LinkedIn to answering specific common interview questions.

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you also have a job to do in an interview

Though you might be focused on making a good impression and securing the job, you have an active role to play in a job interview, too. You should focus on:

  • Getting to know more about the employer. Ask questions about team culture, communication and benefits. You should come away from an interview knowing whether or not you'd be comfortable and happy working for the company.
  • Learning more about the position. Take the job posting as a starting point, not the ending point. Ask questions about the job, requirements, schedules and expectations to determine whether the position is a good fit for your skills and experience. Check out our guide on smart questions to ask in a job interview.
  • Demonstrating that you're right for the job. You must show the employer that you have the right skills and experience, obviously. But you also need to demonstrate how you would fit into the existing team and that you are excited and positive about the position.

Some things you can do to prepare for a job interview include researching the company and position. Review the brand's website to get an idea of its culture, customers and products. This helps you ask intelligent questions and demonstrate your interest.

preparing for a job interview

The best way to ace a job interview is to be prepared. Before you step foot in a job interview there are a few things you should have thought about or practiced ahead of time. They include:

  • Deciding what your strengths are in relation to the position. Look at the job posting again to see exactly what the employer wants and how you meet those needs. When you plan ahead with this information, you can sound more confident in your interview.
  • Creating a list of questions you want answered. You should always have a couple of questions prepared, because if interviewers ask if you have questions and you say no, you can come across as disinterested. Don't just ask about salary and benefits, though these are fair questions. Also ask about company culture, details regarding the position or how the company is planning to grow in the future. This shows you're interested in what you can do for the company and how you might grow with it and not only in getting a paycheck. 
  • Practice talking about your qualifications and answering common interview questions with others. This helps you speak more confidently and work out awkwardness before you're in front of the actual employer.
  • Take care of yourself physically leading up to the interview. Get enough sleep, eat well and attend to any necessary medication or health routines. When you feel well, you are more likely to interview well.

get our downloadable job interview guide

You can also download our job interview guide for in-depth advice from expert recruiters on how to wow interviewers and increase your chances of a job offer.

get the guide
2

scheduling your interview

Interviews take time, which is something most people don't always have enough of. And since you — or your interviewer — can't make more time, you'll have to be smart about how you schedule interviews.

First, don't say yes to every interview opportunity that comes up — especially if they're in-person and involve travel time. If you already know you won't work for a certain brand or don't have the experience and skills an employer is looking for, an in-person interview can waste your time (and the potential employer's time). 

The same can be true if you're not sure about the opportunity and only want to find out a little more. Don't think you have to jump through every hoop an employer sets out at first. Interviews are a two-way street — remember, they're supposed to be a conversation. While you don't want to come across as demanding, you do want to be seen as professional and capable. Being honest about your own schedule and ability to commit to interviews is definitely professional. 

Don't be afraid to suggest a phone or video interview, for example. And if you have obligations in the 9-to-5, let employers know that you'd be glad to meet outside of those hours so you can continue living up to your existing obligations. That type of professionalism demonstrates your loyalty and commitment — which are positives for most employers.

And if a prospective employer leaves you no option but to lie to an existing employer or skip out on current obligations to have an interview, you should ask yourself if that company's values align with yours.

tips to schedule a job interview

Learn how to work an interview into a busy schedule, especially if you’re working full-time.

learn how
3

remote interview tips

Even before the pandemic, many employers were turning to video interviews as a hiring tool. Remote interviews cut out travel time and expense and can make it easier to meet with more candidates. It also lets employers reach outside of traditional geographical limitations to find the best candidates.

In many ways, the same job interview tips that work in a face-to-face meeting work with video interviews. You should still do your research, be prepared to answer common questions, look professional and come with your own questions, for example.

But if you're taking a video interview in your home, you might be less concerned about which pants and shoes make you look professional and more concerned about whether the background noise of the kids could impact the interviewer's impression of you.

You do need to do some extra work when preparing for a video interview. Make sure your web camera or mobile device camera works and that you can connect to the system or app used for the interview. Ensure you have a decent internet connection that will support high-quality video and audio. Prepare your space — clean it up a little or try to position the camera so you're framed against a neutral background like a wall or curtain.

If you're handling the video interview in a space where other people, such as family members, may be present, ensure they understand their roles. They should be quiet and stay off the camera if possible. It can be a good idea to ensure everyone has something to do while you're on the call.

how to ace your video job interview

Check out more advice from HR experts on how to rock a video job interview

check out more tips
4

what to wear to an interview

Decades ago, the answer to what to wear to a job interview was easy — most people's job interview advice would have been to wear a suit of some kind. For men, that meant coats and ties. For women, blazers and skirts or pants. 

Today, the answer isn't nearly as one-size-fits-all. That's due in part to the fact that the casual dress code has made inroads in a wide variety of industries. Depending on the workplace, people are more likely to wear sweaters and khakis or even jeans. Some employees can even wear tasteful t-shirts.

how to dress for an in-person interview

Showing up too overdressed can cause interviewers to consider you a poor fit for a position. Wearing a three-piece suit to interview for a warehouse stocking position, for example, might cause interviewers to question whether you understand which position you're applying for or if you're actually interested in a manual position. Even if you're applying for a supervisory position in a call center, getting too formal could send signals that you're stuffy — a bad thing if the company has a friendly, team-centric culture.

When you're considering what to wear for a job, do some research. What do people in that position normally wear while on the job? What do the people at the company you're applying to typically wear? Dress for the job or just slightly above what is typical for the position.

And if you aren't sure or the employees wear uniforms or specialty equipment, consider opting for business casual.

how to dress for a video interview

The common joke is that people that work from home don't need to wear pants. Less common, but definitely in existence, are hilarious videos where a sudden camera shift or a need to change positions outed the pantsless to other people on video calls. This is not the way you want to show up for a video interview with a prospective employer.

When dressing for a video interview, do what you would do for an in-person interview — including wearing pants or a skirt. You might even want to put on shoes. When you feel put-together in your professional outfit, you may come across as more confident on the screen. Even if the interviewer can't see you from the waist down. Need more advice, check out our article on dressing for a video interview.

what to wear to your next job interview

In the era of casual dress codes and working from home, what exactly should you wear to an interview? Learn general best practices.

read our advice
5

answering common questions

While not every interview is exactly the same, you will have to answer some questions in any interview you're a part of. Often, those questions follow similar themes. After all, prospective employers want to know the same information, including what your skills are, whether you're qualified for the job and how well you might fit within the organization.

That's a good thing for job seekers, because it lets you come to the interview prepared to answer some specific types of questions. What you don't want to do, however, is answer questions with a memorized speech that clearly checks off all "best practices" for interviewing that you read in a book. Instead, you want to come across as authentic, honest and intelligent.

Instead of memorizing a canned answer, you want to know what types of questions interviewers might answer so you can have some facts ready to articulate. Practice answering these questions with others. Have friends or family ask the questions in different ways so you can be confident in your ability to answer uniquely and in the moment. 

get our downloadable job interview guide

You can also download our job interview guide for in-depth advice from expert recruiters on how to wow interviewers and increase your chances of a job offer.

get the guide

mastering the "tell me a time..." job interview question

‘Tell me about a time’ questions are one way interviewers get specific information on your skills and personality — as it relates to how you work with others or face challenges. If you're not prepared, getting put on the spot with this type of question can leave you floundering for an answer — or sharing an anecdote that isn't quite relevant or might not even be appropriate for an interview!

Prepare ahead of time by brainstorming times you accomplished something positive in the workplace, a volunteer position or school. You'll be ready with those stories should the occasion arrive to bring them out. Read our advice on how to answer ‘tell me about a time when…’ interview questions.

tackling your weakness in a job interview

It's one of the trickiest questions to deal with. Answer it honestly, and you might put your chances of getting the job at risk. Go with too safe or cliche of an answer, and employers know you're making something up to get past the question. Those types of answers also don't help you stand out among the application crowd. Check out our advice on how to share your weaknesses in a job interview.

more advice on answering tough interview questions

Check out our article on how to ace 17 challenging interview questions for more detailed question-by-question advice.

read our tips
6

mastering interview storytelling

Facts, figures and well-organized bullet points about your job experience, education and skills — that should describe your resume, not your interview style.

You don't want to sound like a robot or a well-rehearsed actor when you're speaking to prospective employers, and you want your interactions to be a positive and productive conversation.

One of the best ways to do that is to tell stories. No, you shouldn't make up stories. But understanding a few components of good storytelling can help you get your point across and be confident in an interview.

Remember that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. There's a struggle or challenge, and the events rise to a climax before a resolution. Then there's the end, which can involve a point you're making or a lesson you learned. 

By practicing good storytelling and preparing with specific stories you might want to tell ahead of an interview, you can avoid a variety of issues. Knowing how to tell a story keeps you from babbling. Having stories in mind gives you a fast, relevant answer to certain interview questions. Stories may better engage your interviewer, helping them open up to share some of their own — which can give you insight into the company.

mastering storytelling so you can ace interviews

Learn how to tell stronger stories in job interviews to captivate interviewers and show off your strongest traits.

check out our tips
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interview follow up tips

The hours and days after an interview can feel anticlimactic and even stressful. You worked to prepare and did your best to ace the interview, and now you're waiting to find out whether you got the job (or continue to be in the running with a next round of interviews.) That's right: After the interview might come more interviews. So don't put away all your prep work; you may need to return to study those questions and answers in the near future.

Some things you might want to do after an interview can include:

  • Relax. Take a moment to take a deep breath or do something that lets you calm your mind, such as a run, a hot shower or reading a good book.
  • Continue with your job hunt plan. Don't hold up your application process just because you had an interview. Interviews don't guarantee anything.
  • Follow up with the employer. Whether it's a thank you card, email or call, don't be afraid to follow up in a professional manner.

do post-interview thank you notes still matter?

Spoiler: the answer is yes! Learn how to write a great post-interview thank you note and why sending one still makes sense.

learn more
8

common job interview mistakes

Making a mistake in an interview can mean losing out on a job offer. You don't have to be perfect, although preparing to be as perfect as possible for the position in question is always a good idea. However, if you're coming across as less than confident or unprepared, employers won't be jumping to learn more about you.

Other common job interview mistakes include:

  • Simply repeating your resume. Employers already know what's on your resume — that's why they called you in for the interview in the first place. It's time to show them something new.
  • Not picking up social cues from the interviewers. If you're not engaging well in conversation and following where the interviewer leads, they may think you don't have good interpersonal skills that are important for working in a team environment.
  • Not showing the right level of interest. You don't want to come across desperate, but you do want to demonstrate that you're passionate about the type of work involved and interested in the position and brand.

Sometimes the mistakes you make put you out of the running even before the actual race starts. Not being a good listener, telling a little fib or coming across as a negative person can cause employers not to call you back for a second round of interviews.

things you're doing that hurt your chance at a second interview

Learn about some of the most common job interview mistakes and what you can do to avoid them.

check it out
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job interview checklist

We know we’ve presented a lot of information to you above— and all of it matters. Before you get anxious about your ability to internalize all this information to prepare for and ace a job interview, consider this last job interview tip:  use a job interview checklist to keep yourself organized and ensure you don't forget anything critical.

A good checklist reminds you to practice for your job interview weaknesses, provides a step-by-step approach in the days and hours before the interview and helps you feel confident as you enter the meeting that you've done everything you can to set yourself up for success.

your must-have job interview checklist

Check out our job interview checklist and make sure you don’t forget any steps to prepare for your next job interview.

get your checklist
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additional job interview advice

Find advice and job interview tips for a wide range of questions and scenarios. Browse the Randstad job interview blog for information that ranges from mastering LinkedIn to answering specific common interview questions.