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5 Ways to Improve Your Chances at Interview

You’ve got to the final hurdle, your CV has done the trick and the day of judgement is coming.  Don’t leave this meeting to chance, as there’s plenty you can do to ensure that you perform to the best of your ability at the all important interview stage.

Be There

Number one has to be – turn up.  Now this is not as daft as it at first seems, as turning up at the right place and at the right time is fraught with potential disaster, anxiety inducing delayed trains or missing buses, or perhaps your apparently vindictive Sat Nav might lead you completely astray.  There’s nothing worse than that all knowing voice in the car telling you that “you have reached your destination,” only to find yourself on the wrong side of the motorway with 15 miles to the next intersection.

In order to avoid these stress inducing problems, plan ahead.  Find out where you are going, do a practice run if possible, print out the route from googlemaps, look on google earth, and double check the address and postcode.  To ensure you arrive stress free, plan to turn up 5 minutes early, if you are coming some distance then I suggest planning to arrive in the area half an hour before, so you can stop for a coffee and time your entrance perfectly.


You have the time to prepare for this interview, they already like you from what they have read, so don’t let your interviewer or yourself down at this point.  There’s a stack of information out there on the internet freely available, 24/7, and so absolutely no excuse for not having done your homework on this potential employer.

I can almost guarantee that they will want to know how much you know about their company, and they will certainly make a judgement on your interest and commitment based on your prior knowledge and research.  So swat up on some important facts and history of the company, and if they don’t ask, make sure you drop it into the conversation and demonstrate your interest.

How Do I look?

Think about it, just like your CV, first impressions really do count.  Turn up looking like you’re not really that bothered, and don’t be surprised if this employer really isn’t bothered about employing you either.   If possible take a sneaky look at the people emerging from the building prior to going for your interview.  Find out what the dress code is, having said that, I would always err on the side of smart business for interview.

Don’t forget the details, polish your shoes, clean your nails, brush your hair and limit the jewellery and make up, that goes for the men and the women.  Go easy on the perfume or aftershave, and at the risk of aggravating our smoking readers, I suggest you avoid having a cigarette before going in, as the aroma does linger on you and may not be to the taste of your interviewer.

How Do I Act?

Non verbal communication can be a killer, and send subliminal messages to your interviewer which can make or break your chances.  A firm handshake on entering the room, and a smile always goes down well.  Try to relax a little, but remain alert and attentive in your pose, by this I mean relax so that your shoulders drop down from up around your ears as a result of the tension you are feeling and let your palms rest gently in your lap.   Avoid wild gesticulation and sit straight in the chair, try not to slouch which will give a non committal and disinterested message.  Keep eye contact with the person you are talking to, and avert your gaze now and then to avoid looking like you are constantly staring.   Again a good handshake on leaving, with a smile and a thankyou leaves the best impression possible.

It may help ease a few pre interview nerves while waiting to go into the interview room, to take a few deep breaths extending your stomach, holding the breath for a couple of seconds, and as you exhale let your shoulders relax and release some nervous tension.

Let Them Know You Care

At the end of the interview it is often interesting to discover that many interviewers are unable to judge how interested the candidate was in the job.  This can be due to nerves on the part of the interviewee, and the formal setting restricting their natural enthusiasm.  However, more often and more simply it’s because the person who has just been interviewed has not told this potential employer how much they would like to do this job, and work for their company.  At the end of an interview I suggest that you let them know you care.  A simple “Thanks for inviting me in today, and just to let you know I am very interested in this role” would suffice.  If you are feeling even more positive you could offer “I was immediately interested in this job from the job description, and having been in to speak to you today, I would like to let you know that I am really enthusiastic about coming to work for you.”

If you have your own tips, I’d be pleased to hear about them to share with readers in the comments box below.

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  • Ronel

    Thanks Rowena! I think you’ve made some invaluable points!

  • Tony Byles

    Hi Rowena
    Thanks for inviting me to your group.

    Over the years I’ve had a 92% hit rate with being offered the job if I get to interview…

    That’s the difficulty actually getting in front of decision makers!

  • Stuart Coates

    Wow thanks Rowena, very good points. As a recruiter it is very frustrating when you help a candidate prep for interview but there is only so much you can do. If they dont help themselves…..

  • Rowena Simpson

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    I hope that my advice might be useful to the people you are helping to find great new jobs in New Zealand.

  • Vishal

    Thanks Rowena.These are really very interesting points.

  • Naresh Bansal

    Thanks dear for this insight

  • Alvaro Correal

    Thanks Rowena, great tips !

  • Rowena Simpson

    Stuart, Thanks very much for your positive feedback.

    Having been a recruiter too, I understand the frustration of having lined someone up for interview and not being able to control the outcome or performance of the candidate.

    Hopefully these tips might help your candidates to perform a little better once you have got them to interview stage. Please feel free to provide them with the link to my article.

    There may be other articles on here that I’ve written that may be worth you passing on to them too.

    Happy to help!


  • Rowena Simpson


    Thanks for your comments and input. It’s great that you’re getting such a great hit rate once you get to interview, maybe you could contribute some of your winning techniques here in the discussion to share with others?

    If getting the interview in the first place is proving a stumbling block, it might be worth you reading some of the other articles I’ve written on here. I’ve addressed issues around the effectiveness of opening statements, including key words in your CV, how many pages your CV should be, and also importantly (but often missed) making sure that your CV is web optimised, if it is going to sit in either a recruiters or online job board database.

    Here’s a link to some of those articles:

    You’ll find several others in the index in this blog.

    As always I welcome and really appreciate your feedback and comments.


  • Rowena Simpson

    Vishal, Naresh and Alvaro,

    Thanks for your positive feedback, I am always delighted that readers have taken the time to respond in person.

    If you enjoyed this post, you might also be interested in another post I’ve written about interview techniques, which covers the topic of questions that you should ask at interview.

    Here’s the link:


  • George Kamensky

    Hello, Rowena,

    Thanks for a *technical* interview tips. Sure they will help.
    On the another level of interview preparation the Applicant has to *sell* his personality as a main goal of interview success:
    – Spirit of Innovation,
    – Positive & Friendly approach to people in common,
    – Analytical approach to problems solving,
    – Vision of final business results and responsibility

    Regards, George Kamensky,
    Senior Estimator

  • kalyani

    thank u so much fr making me realize how to react in an peak time of interview. its really a very gud article..

  • tunde bamidele

    interesting tips

    Tunde bamidele

  • sajeed

    Thanks so Much for these interesting interview tips. I have been going through a lot online lately, and this surely sums up the crucial ones with a hint of simplicity in it!


    Sajeed Ahmed

  • Rowena Simpson

    George, Thank you for responding, you raise important points which will also probably be part of the decision making process when assessing interview performance.

    These can fall generally into the category of comptencies, which I will also address in a seperate blog, on how to use the STAR technique to achieve success at interview stage.

    Keep coming back for more interview, CV and Careers advice.

    You might also be interested in the good news in our industry hiring outlook report which we have just published and is available free here:

  • Rowena Simpson

    Kalyani, Tunde and Sajeed, I’m very pleased that you have found the article to be useful and encourage you to check back regularly for more free advice on careers, CVs and interview help.

    If you haven’t already registered your CV on our site, then I advise you to do so. It’s completely free for candidates and you will immediately become visible to hundreds of recruiters looking for engineering skills.

    Follow this link for your free registration and job alert which you can tailor to suit your skills.


  • Frank Garrett

    Great tips Rowena, its good to hear the cultural norms there are consistent with ours here in YYC. thx. frank

  • John

    Hi Rowena,

    Thanks for the tips.

    I have a problem paying for stocks like Cover letters and submission of c.v. to potential employers. I think it has to do with inability to use my nigerian visa card on the shop.

    Please advice.



  • Ming Hooi

    I have interviewed more than a hundred candidates in my career and these are what I have to say:
    1. be confident;
    2. be truthful;
    3. do your homework;
    4. be polite.

    Here are some No-no’s:
    1. I have an unforgettable bad experience with an interviewee who so confidently argued with me that ammonia is acidic ! I then told my chemist to bring in some ammonia sample to the interview room and test the pH in front of us, then I kicked the candidate out.
    2. I have interviewed a former BASF staff who started the inverview by “judging” us, saying things like “emm.. safety aspects here is not bad, emm.. it’s good that you are ISO certified..”. She didn’t hear from us again.

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    Getting an interview call means that your resume has created an good impression on interviewer and only thing has to be done to secure that opportunity is to crack that interview. Your article definitely help for it with more confidence and preparation.

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