Steps to take to ace any job interview

I remember the first time that I got a job interview. I was exhilarated … and absolutely TERRIFIED!

Putting your life’s achievements and your personal qualities on paper is very different from having them scrutinised in person by someone analysing your immediate answers, tone, and body language on the spot.

Had I known about these essential steps in advance I would have felt far more secure. Take a minute and equip yourself with the necessary steps for preparing for any job interview.

Prepare Basic Questions:

In my first interview, it was the most basic questions that through me off guard. I had prepared really specific questions based on the job description, but when I was confronted with a general “why do you want to work for us?” my answer was confused, disordered, and did not include some of the best information. This was due to the fact that I had not memorised the job information in the order for such a broad question.

So always begin every job interview preparation with the same fundamental questions that you would ask of anyone joining your organisation:

  • Why do you want for work for us?
  • What do you think qualifies you for this position?
  • Where do you see yourself in one year?

Prepare skill-specific questions:

The precising skills-specific questions were critical to the success of my first interview even when I seemed confused when answering the basic questions.

If you are confused, then the first step should be to take a highlighter pen and colour over the essential responsibilities and skills described in the main text. Then simply rephrase the description of the responsibility as you would ask in a question.

The basic criteria for answering these questions is to follow the S.T.A.R. formula.

  • Situation – what was the context of the example (e.g. setting, your role);
  • Task – what was the job that had to be done, and why did it have to be done;
  • Actions Taken – what actions did you take to complete the task and resolve the situation, and why did you think that they were the correct actions to take;
  • Result – What was the immediate and (if necessary) long-term result of your actions?

Contact HR for answering criteria:

For some large employers, there is a more precise and detailed answering criteria available online. Alternatively, if you cannot find one then you can phone up human resources and if you ask very nicely they might just direct you to its online location, or even email it to you.

Using this answering criteria it is possible to make more developed answers which perfectly fit what the employer wants to hear from you.

Mock interview:

Even after all the preparation and research nothing matches the pressure of having to answer under pressure on the spot. Make sure you rehearse at least once with a close friend or relative.

Alternatively, if you are still a student, most universities will have a careers service that will offer you a mock interview appointment.

Make at least 2 constructive questions for the interviewer:

The last question in every interview that I’ve ever had was whether I had any questions for them. But do not be tempted to sound smart or overly technical. Instead ask them constructive questions which show that you already thinking about how you will settle in and work well in the job from the day that you begin.

Extra Tip

My strategy for preparing thoroughly for exams could be useful in this context because you have to memorise information in a logical order and in separate scenarios, ideally using the filing cabinet system.


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