How to ace that job interview

Tips and tricks to impress interviewers - and some mistakes to avoid

How not to impress a recruiter: 1) Send your CV to all 25 jobs advertised; 2) Send your resume by email, fax and snail mail; and 3) Don't specify which job you are applying for.

Some tips for impressing recruiters are obvious, but others are more subtle. For example, most people won’t be late to an interview, but how many realise that turning up early is just as bad?

According to, even showing up ten minutes early can irritate recruiters.

“You will interrupt whatever they're doing … which can sow a seed of resentment. It also sends a message: You are an amateur, both overeager and overworried about being late. Arrive no more than five minutes before the interview,” the site says.

The article also suggests interviewees be prepared for the potentially awkward moment when they and the recruiter walk into the interview room and there are more than two chairs. It advises:

  • If the recruiter hasn't taken a seat, rest your hand on one of the chairs and ask if it’s a good place for you to sit.
  • If the interviewer has taken a chair, then sit directly opposite, or if it’s a round table, sit next to the interviewer but move away so eye contact can be maintained.

Inevitably, the "Tell me about yourself" question will be asked. The article advises rehearsing a 60-second commercial summarising your responsibilities at your last job and your reasons for pursuing the advertised job.

“Begin this last part with the phrase ‘But what I really want to do is ...'”

Job hunters should be careful about small talk. Think twice before making jokes — the safest kind of humour is self-deprecating, but you don’t want to put yourself down in a job interview. And don’t think the weather, sport or traffic is a safe topic.

“You don't want to be the 11th automaton that day to say, ‘it's hot outside,” the site advises.

If someone wants to ace an interview, they have to go in with an agenda and steer the conversation, not just answer the questions asked, the article says.

Other suggestions for the interview from the article include: Take notes if you wish, but don’t write unless absolutely necessary; If you don't mean it, don't say it; Never swear; and details such as shined shoes matter.

Finally, a good way to leave a lasting impression is to prepare two good questions about the position or the firm, the answers to which cannot be found on the company website. A great final question leaves a great final impression.

Writing on CareerJournal, recuriters Jim Leverette and Terry Boles say job hunters need to be honest about any career blemishes.

“One of the worst things you can do is allow a possible red flag to surface during the closing phase of the search, embarrassing us all in front of a client.”

Another tip from Levedrette and Boles is to never say something along the lines of: “This position looks as if it were taken directly from my resume.

“We refer to this comment as ‘the kiss of death.’ For whatever reason, candidates who say this are invariably weeded out during the search process," they say.

Mills is a Dunedin-based writer. Contact her at

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