Job Interviews toolkit
Need more help with preparing for a job interview? Check out our step-by-step guide and view video tips from the experts in our Jobseeker Toolkit.
Job Interview Tips: TODAY
You've got the job interview you've been waiting for and you don't want to mess it up. Just think about the word TODAY. Each letter can remind you of something you might be asked about.
T = Teamwork
O = Obstacles
D = Duties
A = Achievements
Y = Your strengths and weaknesses
Employers want to know that you can work as part of a team. Almost any job you can think of will require you to work with people. Even if you've never had a job before you will be expected to give examples of teamwork.
There are plenty of non-work examples of being part of a team, including:
- Being part of a sports team
- Doing a dance class
- Organising family events
All you need to demonstrate is that you can communicate, make decisions and work with other people to achieve your goals. Being a part of any of the above kinds of groups requires those sorts of skills.
In work, like in many other areas of life, there are problems to solve. Your employer needs to be confident that you know how to handle yourself in a sticky situation.
Examples of overcoming obstacles include:
- If you have had trouble learning a new skill but kept at it until you improved
- If you had a setback in your personal life but still managed to succeed in your work life
- If there were unexpected changes when you were planning an event
If you've had any experiences like the above ones, tell your interviewer about it. Explain what the obstacle was, how you dealt with it, and how things turned out in the end.
When you're asked about duties, you're being asked about what sort of things you've done in your past jobs.
You need to be specific. If someone was filming a day in the life of you in your old job what would they have seen you doing?
- Did you go to a lot of meetings?
- Did you respond to customer complaints?
- Did you train new employees?
If you haven't had a job before you could talk about:
- Something you did at school
- Volunteering you did at an event
- Your work as part of a community group.
You'll probably only get asked this question if you have had a job before.
A job interview is your chance to sell yourself. What makes you stand out from the other applicants? If you won an award at school or were named Employee of the Month at your old job, let the interviewer know about it.
You can talk about other achievements outside work too, like if you helped organise a successful fundraising event for your local sports team.
If you set out to do something and you did it - that's an achievement. For example, if you started out baby-sitting for one of your friends and they recommended you to their friends and now you have regular baby-sitting jobs - that's an achievement.
Make sure that you recognise your achievements and feel comfortable talking about them. You never know which achievement could score you a job.
Your strengths and weaknesses
Okay, so 'strengths' and 'weaknesses' don't start with a 'y', but you have to try to remember examples of both anyway.
What are your strengths?
Think about what people compliment you on, for example:
- Your friends might say you're a good listener
- Your family knows you're reliable
- You're comfortable talking in front of groups of people
These are positives in life and in the workforce. Let the interviewer know what your strengths are and then give an example for each.
For example, "I love to have everything neat and organised. At my old job my workmates would always come to my desk to borrow stationery because I knew where everything was."
What are your weaknesses?
The worst answer to this is to say you don't have any. If you say you have none the interviewer will either think you are lying or not interested in becoming a better person or employee.
The best way to answer a question about your weaknesses is to be honest about what you're not good at, but then explain how you are working to improve it. For example:
- I'm not too fast at touch-typing, but I recently borrowed a computer program that helps me to practise and I'm getting better
- I don't know how to use spreadsheet programs, but I'm good with Word and I'm keen to learn
- I haven't worked with engines much, but I'm good with tools and I did okay in metalwork at school
Remember - TODAY!
Keeping these five areas in mind when you go for that job interview is a great way to remember the kind of things you'll probably get asked. It's a great way to improve your chances of getting a new job - TODAY!