A Guide to Job Interviews

Do you have a job interview coming up? Do you want to not only succeed but nail the interview? Well, read on for some tips on how you can do that.

Interviews are an important part of an IT professional’s career. You’ve probably had, or will have, many interviews over your career – some that went well, some not so well. I’ve listed some tips below that I hope prove useful on how to nail an interview.


How To Nail An Interview Before It Starts

Much of the work for an interview is done before the actual interview starts. It gets you set up and into a good position to get the job you’re going for. Some suggestions on things to do before the interview are:

  • Research the Company – Look up the company, their website, any news articles about them. Find a bit about what they do, and what they look for. You may have done this when you prepared your resume, but this will help to get it fresh in your mind.
  • Bring Your Resume – Not many people do this anymore, and recruiters usually have a copy with them. However, if you bring a copy of your resume, it shows you’re committed and prepared for the interview.
  • Bring a Notepad – If you bring a notepad to an interview, it shows you’re willing to take notes and are interested in what the recruiter has to say.
  • Dress Smart – The clothes you wear to the interview play a big part in the first impression of you in the interview. Dress appropriately for the job and the interview. If you’re not sure, dress on the more conservative side – business attire is recommended.
  • Set Your Facebook Profile to Private – It’s common practice among recruiters to check a candidate’s social networking profiles, such as Facebook. Even if you don’t have anything embarrassing on there, it’s a good idea to set it to private or friends only.
  • Be On Time – Nothing gives a worse first impression than arriving late to an interview. Make sure you’re on time. Ensure you take into account anything that can go wrong in getting there – delays with public transport, lack of car parks, elevators not working. It’s better to be thirty minutes early than five minutes late!
  • Turn Your Phone Off – Ensure your phone is turned off for the interview. Turning it onto silent may be an option, and if you do that it’s a good idea to turn off the vibrate function, as a phone vibrating in your pocket may distract you during an interview. If you want to nail an interview, you don’t need any distractions – to either you or the interviewer.
  • Research common interview questions. A lot of interview questions are standard, and if you know the right way to answer them, it can really help.


Advice For During The Interview

This is the time that you’ve been waiting for. The opportunity to speak with someone from the company and hopefully get a position with them. Several ways to improve your chances are:

  • Smile and Be Polite – When you meet the recruiter, smile and shake their hand. Be polite and friendly. They don’t want to hear about your life dramas. A positive attitude and a nice smile go a long way.
  • Don’t Badmouth Your Previous Employer – It may seem like it’s acceptable at the time, or you may need to explain the reason you’re there, but there’s no reason to talk negatively about a previous employer. They may think you’ll do the same to them when you look for your next job.
  • Mention Your Goals – This displays confidence and direction for your career, as well as a passion for what you do. If you know where you want to go, and how the position fits into your goals, it shows the employer you know what you want. It also helps the employer in determining whether they want to hire you or not.
  • Promote Your Accomplishments – The biggest tip to anyone going for a job interview is to be able to sell themselves. Interviews are about convincing an employer that they should hire you. The best way to do that is to promote your accomplishments. Mention things you’ve done in the past to be able to meet deadlines or deliver projects or work in teams. Even if you have no experience, you can mention that you’ve successfully passed a degree or certification and achieved certain marks. Focus on the positive!
  • Ask Questions – This part of the interview isn’t just a pleasantry. It’s a good chance to show you’ve been paying attention and are interested in the company. Try to come up with a few questions from your initial research, and maybe one or two from the interview itself. Questions about salary, or taking leave days, or anything like that are best left to later in the process when you’re confident you have the job.


Finally, Some Advice For After The Interview

Once the interview is over, congratulations, most of the hard work is done! However, there are a few things you can do to help your chances a little bit further and learn how to nail an interview:

  • Thank Them For Their Time – When leaving the interviewer, say goodbye to them in a similar way you greeted them. Smile, shake their hand, and thank them for their time. This will show consideration and professionalism.
  • Send A Thank You Follow-Up – This isn’t something that everyone does, which is why I think it’s a good idea for you to do this. Thanking the interviewer a day or two after the actual interview is a great little trick to stand out from the crowd. It should help your chances of getting the job, and even for hearing back from them!


How to Decline an Interview

There are a few reasons why you would want to decline a job interview, even if you get one.

Normally, you would submit a resume to a company, who then review it and ask you for an interview. However, sometimes you can get an interview offer without submitting a resume. If someone from another company hears about your skills or history, you may get a call or email from them asking to meet with you.

So, even if you’re not applying for a job, you may want to decline a job interview. Some possible reasons include:

  • You’re happy at your current job, and don’t want to move.
  • The company isn’t somewhere you’d like to work.
  • The job is in another city or country where you don’t want to go.
  • The role isn’t something you’re interested in.

If you don’t want to attend the job interview, it’s a good idea to let the person know you’re not interested. This will save everyone’s time and effort, as it’s not going anywhere.

There are, however, a few things to remember to do and not do when declining a job interview.

Stay Polite and Respectful

The number one thing to remember when you’re going to decline a job interview is to stay polite and respectful. Show the other person respect by giving them an answer, and being professional about it. Thank them for the interview offer. Mention that you don’t think it would be a good idea, for whatever reason. Even if the job isn’t something you want to do, just mention it to them and remain polite and respectful.

This may be harder, depending on your reason, but if you try to do this then it will help in the future. You never know when you’ll need to deal with that person or that company again.

Be Honest, But In A Positive Way

It’s recommended that you tell the person asking for the interview the real reason why you’re not interested. If you’re happy at your current job, that’s good, and it’s something you can mention.

A response like “Thanks for the interview offer, but I’m quite happy with my current employer and aren’t looking to move, so I’m going to have to say no” is an acceptable way to decline a job interview.

The person asking for the interview will likely understand why you’re saying no. It’s probably happened to them before, and they shouldn’t take it personally.

The only reason I would suggest not to be honest is where the company isn’t somewhere where you’d like to work, or there is a potentially offensive reason why you’re not interested. Perhaps you don’t like what the CEO stands for. Perhaps you’ve had a bad experience with them in the past, or don’t like their products. If it’s more of an emotional decision, this is something that can cause conflict with someone. It’s probably better, in cases like this, to give them another reason such as you’re happy where you are.

Respond To Them

If you get a phone call for a job interview, it’s something that you’re able to respond to right away if you want. You can say you’ll think about it, but it’s only an interview, so you might not need to. Other times, you may get an email or another kind of communication (LinkedIn message for example). In this case, you do have the option of not replying.

I would suggest replying to all interview requests that you get, whether it’s a yes or no. The other person has taken the time to research your background and request an interview, so it’s courteous to respond to them and let them know you’re declining the job interview.

Don’t Let Other Colleagues Overhear You

If you’re taking a call and you get asked, it’s a good idea to walk away to somewhere private to have the conversation.

You don’t want coworkers to overhear a conversation about a job interview. While you are actually declining the position, and not going anywhere, it still may create feelings of resentment or envy among others (such as “why is he getting calls for interviews and not me?”). They also might ask a lot of questions about your work plans, which you might not be able to answer.

This is a personal preference, but I would suggest not letting others overhear your conversations like this where you decline a job interview. It’s usually just easier this way.


Why You Might Not Hear Back From The Company After A Job Interview

You’ve had the interview, which went really well. You left on good terms, and they said they would get back to you in two weeks. It’s been much longer, and you haven’t had any response. Why? What happened? There are a few reasons why this could have happened.

They Just Don’t Want You For The Job

This one seems obvious, but it’s often true. A lot of the time the interview seems to go well, but for some reason, they aren’t interested in giving the position to you. Instead of letting you know that they aren’t interested (which would be the logical thing to do), they just decide not to tell you the real reason.

They may have realised during the interview that your skills aren’t a fit for the role. They may have realised there is another candidate out there that is a better fit for the role. Either way, they aren’t interested in you for the job. The best thing to do here is to learn from the experience and move on. There are plenty of ways to find another job!

Recruiters Could Be Too Busy

Recruiters can often be busy people. When trying to fill a position, there may be up to one hundred candidates – even more, if the job market is down and unemployment is high.

From your perspective, getting a job is probably the most important thing in your life right now. Whether you have a current job and are looking for a new one, or you don’t have one and need to get your foot in the door, it’s probably a high priority for you.

For the recruiter, however, it may just be another item on their To Do list. Getting a position filled by a candidate may not be very high on their priorities. They may have a lot of other things to do – especially if it’s not the recruiter you’re dealing with and it’s someone from the actual IT team or from HR, where the role may be more diverse. There are probably a lot of other tasks and day-to-day activities that they need to do.

Sometimes they just haven’t had the time to get back to you about the position. They might say they’ll get back to you in a couple of weeks, but it could just take them a little longer.

Budgets Could Be Cut Or On Hold

It takes money to get people hired. There needs to be some money available in the budget to be able to hire someone. In most companies, it takes some time and effort to get the budget allocated and approved by various teams. Sometimes the people who need to approve it are away, or there may be other reasons why the budget isn’t available.

The budget could be put on hold, which means there isn’t any money right now to hire someone. This isn’t a personal reason – the company has just decided to put spending on hold. There isn’t a lot you can do in this situation, other than be patient with this company or keep looking for other roles. Following up with them at some stage would be a good idea, just to check in about how the process is going.

They Lost Your Contact Details

Sometimes the company may have just lost your contact details. It’s probably a small chance that this has happened, given the IT’s industry to be quite technical and have access to systems and processes that store details, but they may have just lost your details. Perhaps they even have your email or phone number stored incorrectly.

Following up with them is recommended. You shouldn’t do this a lot – perhaps just once after the interview process, to see how your application process is going. This will give them another opportunity to get your contact details if they have indeed lost them.

You May Have Bad References

Many companies will contact the references if they are interested in a candidate. Sometimes it happens before the interview, and sometimes it happens afterwards. If you felt like you had a good interview, but didn’t hear back, it could be because the company has contacted your references and they gave a less than stellar review of your past performance.

This may have caused the company to shy away from hiring you for the position. What you think is a good person for a reference may turn out to be not so good.

It’s a good idea to keep in contact with your references – not just when you’re in the market for a job, but just in general. Keep in touch with them and see how their working life is going.

You can also call them up (or get a friend to call them up so your voice isn’t recognised) and pretend they are a recruiter. Get your friend to ask your reference a few questions and see what their answers are. Move them off your references list if they’re not positive responses.

They May Want To Avoid Legal Action

In today’s world, it seems like people get sued for almost anything. Companies can get into trouble with the things they say and do, especially around the area of discrimination. If the employer notifies a candidate that they are not interested, it can lead to more information being disclosed about why they weren’t hired, which can be taken the wrong way and end up in court.

With a scenario like this, the company may just want to avoid any chance of that happening and not let people know that they are unsuccessful. They may think that the candidate will get the hint and find a job elsewhere.

They Don’t Want To Close The Door

Telling a candidate that they are unsuccessful will effectively “close the door” with that candidate. Until this happens, there is still a possibility of something happening – a role being offered to the candidate.

In some cases, the employer may want to hold out and wait. Perhaps they are waiting for something better to come along, maybe they’re waiting for a response from their first pick, and you’re the backup.

Whatever the reason for doing it, this is a common approach for not letting people know they aren’t successful. How interested you are in the company will determine how long you wait for a response.

They Found Something About You Online

In today’s world of increasing social media presences and information gathering, there are a lot of places that store data about us. It’s easy for employers to do a search on Google and find out information about you when they have your full name and a location. They could have found something that they didn’t like about you, and it turned them off the job search.

Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, even MySpace, and forums can store information about you that is publicly available. It might not seem like much, but gathering it all together could form a more detailed picture of you. The employer might not like what they find – and then not offer you the job.

Before starting a job hunt, you should update your social network privacy settings – many of them have a “displayed to the public” setting for you to check and update. Do a Google search on yourself to see what comes up, and look into getting it removed if it’s negative.

The Interview Didn’t Really Go That Well

You’ve had a job interview, and to you, it seemed like it went well. You felt you answered the questions accurately and positively and thought the other person was interested.

However, sometimes this just isn’t the case. They may have been interested in you before the interview, but the interview process didn’t go that well. Perhaps you said something wrong and didn’t realise it. Maybe they’ve realised you don’t have the required skills, or the interviewer was in a bad mood that day and didn’t like you that much. There are many reasons this could have happened.

If it happens to you, reflect on the job interview and try to work out how and where it went wrong.



Job interviews might seem daunting, but they are a major part of the job seeking process. Learning how to do well in a job interview will make this process easier for you.

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