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Help with interviews

Land your next job with these interview tips and guides

Interview guide

Read our CAPS Interview Guide for an in-depth explanation on how to prepare for your next interview.

Interview Tips

Use these tips to develop great interview skills.

1. Smile, be enthusiastic, and arrive early

Interview outcomes are often decided within the first 10 seconds. Make sure to:

  • Greet the employer with a firm handshake, eye contact, and a smile.
  • Project enthusiasm by being self-confident, mature, warm, and by having a good sense of humour.
  • Project a professional image by wearing business-like attire.
  • Answer questions promptly and concisely.
  • Arrive early to make a good impression, to show appreciation for the employer’s time, and to fill out any necessary paperwork.


2. Ask about a typical day on the job

Take an active part in the interview by asking the employer to describe a typical day on the job. Listen carefully and think of experience and training related to any tasks mentioned.


3. Explain how your experience and qualifications make you the ideal candidate

Relate any previous experience to the questions being asked. Using examples will give the employer a sense of how successful you will be on the job. Things to think about:

  • Have you held a similar position before?
  • What were your responsibilities in your previous position?
  • How does your experience translate to this new opportunity?


4. Pay attention to your body language

Developing a good rapport with the employer is a major factor in the hiring process. To do this, make sure you:

  • Speak clearly.
  • Listen carefully and show interest by smiling and nodding in agreement, or by commenting when the employer has finished speaking.
  • Maintain eye contact with the employer.


5. Ask meaningful and relative questions about the job

Employers evaluate applicants by the questions they ask. Employers like specific questions about the nature of the job, the company’s plans and goals, and the nature of the position you're being interviewed for.


6. “Tell me about yourself”

Employers ask this question to see how well you express yourself, to gage your personality, and to find out important information about you. Treat this as an open-ended question that could lead to specific questions later. Instead of talking about your childhood, family or personal ambitions, keep it professional. Mention specific accomplishments that show your abilities and determination to succeed in the position. Your answers should tell the employer why you would be an asset to the company, not why you need a job.


7. If you want the job, ask for it

Employers often feel that a strong desire for the position is just as important as your ability to do the job. Asking for the job is a very effective interviewing technique; you can do this by asking the employer if they see you performing at the job. If the answer is ‘yes’, say, “Great! When can I start?”


8. Salary reality

You might be asked about the salary you are looking for in an interview. A safe response to this question would be, “I’m very interested in the position, I’d like to earn as much as I am qualified to earn. How much would you offer a candidate with similar qualification?” If the employer makes a firm offer and you want the job, you can accept on the spot. If you’re undecided, ask for a day to think about it. Never refuse any offer of employment until you’ve had time to decide.

Common interview questions

Find out what employers really want to know when they ask these common interview questions.

Q. Tell me about yourself.

Employers want to know:

  • Are you prepared?
  • Can you organize relevant information and express it concisely?
  • How does your background relate to the job?

Keep it brief and avoid getting into details. You can quickly cover your youth, education, work experience and present situation. Focus on the skills you have developed that are relevant to the job.

Q. Why should I hire you?

Employers want to know:

  • Can you convince me you are the right person?
  • Help me decide on the best candidate.

Show your ability to solve a problem for the company by using a relevant example from your past. This will help the interviewer “see” you in action. If you have little experience, sell your education and give examples of situations that demonstrate your key strengths (motivation, energy, positive attitude, etc.).

Q. What are your major strengths?

Employers want to know:

  • What important qualities and traits would you bring to this job?
  • What is your level of maturity and self-knowledge?

Choose your best self-management skills that you believe are most important for the job and the organization.

Q. What are your major weaknesses?

Employers want to know:

  • Are you aware of your weaknesses?
  • What is your level of maturity and self-knowledge?
  • Can you handle difficult questions?

Never say you have none! Don’t admit a weakness that could affect your ability to do the job well or that disclose any personal issues. Choose your weakness before the interview, limit your answer to one weakness, and say what you did in order to overcome it. Don’t forget – overcoming a weakness is actually developing a strength.

Q. What salary do you expect to receive?

Employers want to know:

  • Are you too expensive for our budget, or would you still feel motivated with a lower pay?
  • Are your expectations too low for what we wish to invest in this position?
  • Are you well informed about your market value?

Find out in what salary range the job is situated. Never discuss salary before you receive a job offer. Mention that you trust that if an offer comes, it will be reasonable. When the interviewer insists, answer the question using a range.

Q. What prompted your decision to apply for this position?

Employers want to know:

  • Do you know what motivates you?
  • How much do you really want this job?
  • Do you really understand what it takes to be successful in this job?
  • Why us? How do you know you would be happy in our organization?

If you apply for positions that match your true needs, this should be an easy question. Link your interest and enthusiasm to the skills and knowledge that are most relevant for the position. Mention what you like about the organization and the people who work there.


Q. Could you give me an example from your past that describes when you took initiative?

Employers want to know:

  • Evidence that you have initiative
  • Can you prove with facts that you really do have initiative?

Prepare for behavioral questions by compiling key moments from your past that describe how you handled different situations. Other possible behavioural questions might be:

  • Tell me about a great decision you made.
  • What about a decision that proved to be a mistake?
  • Give an example of a time when you handled a difficult customer.
  • What was one of the most difficult goals you had to reach? How did you go about meeting that goal?


Q. Where do you see yourself five years from now?

Employers want to know:

  • Can we depend on you?
  • Are you focused?
  • Can we offer you what you really want?
  • How long do you intend to stay with this company?

Focus on tackling the challenges within the job to which you are applying. For the long term, you can underline how you wish to develop your career by developing new skills and knowledge that are meaningful both to you and to the organization.

Contact us

Career Advising and Professional Success (CAPS)

514-848-2424, ext. 7345

Career Counselling and Educational Transitions (CCET)

514-848-2424, ext. 7345


Sir George Williams Campus
Room H-745

Loyola Campus
Room AD-103

Office hours

Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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