Module 03: Job Search

3.9 Interviewing with Confidence

Your ability to perform well in a job interview is essential to your career success. It’s rare for a job candidate to be offered a job without being interviewed first. It’s competitive to get to the interview stage, so it’s important that you take advantage of the opportunity and prepare well.

The following sections will provide you with information and tips on how to prepare for an interview:

General Interview Tips
Before the Interview During the Interview After the Interview
  • Research: the position, the department and the company to identify the skills, values and accomplishments to highlight during the interview
  • Map out the location of the interview or in the case of a virtual interview test out the interview software and set up in an indoor location with appropriate lighting, no background noises etc.
  • Review your resume so that you can speak about your experiences and skills
  • Update your portfolio (as applicable)
  • Put together a professional outfit to wear
  • Prepare answers to the most common interview questions and practise your answers out loud with a friend or employment advisor
  • Prepare a list of questions you would like to ask the interviewer including questions  about the post-interview process (e.g. when they are planning to make their decision, how they will contact you, any follow-up interviews, if they will be contacting your references)
  • Arrive 10 minutes early (or log in 5 mins early)
  • Bring: extra copies of your resume, a list of your references, a pen and paper, and a portfolio of your work if you have one
  • Be respectful to everyone in the office: be polite, warm and personable
  • When you meet your interviewer(s): give them a firm handshake, make eye contact, and don’t sit until asked to do so
  • When answering questions: try not to fidget; avoid over-using ‘um’, ‘ah’, and ‘like’; maintain eye contact; ask for clarification if you don’t understand a question; and keep your answers succinct
  • Provide detailed responses with examples while connecting your skills and experiences to the job
  • Show enthusiasm and a positive attitude; avoid strongly negative words like ‘hate’, ‘dislike’, and ‘refuse’
  • Evaluate your performance: reflect on what you did well and what you could improve on at your next interview
  • Send a thank-you email to your interviewers within 24 hours
  • Notify your references that they may be called and send them some information about the job and company you have interviewed for and the skills you’d like them to highlight
  • Continue with your job search

Common interview mistakes

  • Lack of preparation
  • Arriving late
  • Messy appearance
  • Conveying a lack of confidence
  • Negative attitude, lack of enthusiasm
  • Inconsistency (e.g. between your resume and your interview responses)
  • Failing to listen

Responses to Interview Questions

Below are some tips for how to best answer interview questions:

  • Elaborate on your skills and knowledge by providing examples of how you’ve used them in the past and how they are relevant to the job you are interviewing for.
  • Although your education may be most directly related to the job you’re interviewing for, provide examples from a variety of your relevant experiences including education, work experience, volunteer work, extra-curricular activities or other experiences because these can all offer evidence of your transferable skills.
  • Employers are not only looking for someone who has the skills and experience needed for the job, they are also looking for a candidate with a positive attitude who works well with others, is adaptable, learns quickly, is reliable, and works hard.

A common technique for answering behavioural interview questions (questions that ask how you handled specific situations in the past) is called the STAR interview technique..

The acronym STAR stands for:

Situation: Explain where, when, with whom, and what your role was so that you provide context for the listener

Task: Outline what you were tasked to do or the problem you needed to solve

Action: List the actions you took in this situation – be specific, don’t expect them to guess what you did

Result: Emphasize the result of your actions so that the interviewer can see that the actions you took were successful!


Interviewers ask behavioural questions because they believe that past behaviour is a strong predictor of future behaviour.  By having some STAR stories ready, you won’t have to come up with examples on the spot and you can show the employer through your examples that you would perform well in the target job.  The key is to anticipate which skills the interviewer are most likely to inquire about.

Here is an example of how Xin Ja answered a behavioural interview question:


“Xin Ja, can you provide an example of a time when you were able to successfully solve a problem?”

Xin Ja:

“Sure! I worked at Lucy’s Fast Food Restaurant last summer as the lunch-hour manager and during a particularly busy lunch hour several customers complained that the system of lining up to pay was confusing. (SITUATION)

As the lunch-hour manager, it was my responsibility to resolve customer complaints and make sure we were providing fair, fast and friendly service. (TASK)

I wanted to make sure this problem was resolved quickly and effectively so I listened to the feedback from customers and then sought out solutions from the customer service clerks. In order to address the issue, I bought floor markings to show customers where to line up for each cash register. (ACTION)

During subsequent high traffic periods, there were no customer complaints about line-ups and the customer service clerks told me that their stress was reduced because they no longer had to manage conflict in the line as well. Our store served a higher number of customers on a daily basis because we were able to serve customers more efficiently.” (RESULT)

How to Anticipate Interview Questions 

Imagine how well you would perform at interviews if you knew what they were going to ask ahead of time.  You would be able to craft appropriate responses and deliver them flawlessly.  It would also eliminate the risk of you having that ‘deer in the headlights’ look when asked a question you totally didn’t expect.  The good news is that you don’t need a crystal ball to know which questions to anticipate.

Here are some tips to help you figure out the kinds of interview questions you can expect:

Tip #1: Become familiar with some standard interview questions:

  • You should always be ready to respond to questions such as:

“Tell me about yourself.”
“What makes you a good fit for this job?”
“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
“What interests you about this job?”
“What do you know about our company?”

Tip #2: Review the job description:

  • Make a note of what is emphasized in the responsibilities and requirements sections
  • Try to anticipate the types of questions that the interviewer might ask to determine whether or not you possess those skills
  • Remember that employers are usually more interested in hearing examples that demonstrate your skills than they are in hearing you make general statements stating that you have the skills

Tip #3: Consider the personality traits and soft skills required for the job:

  • In addition to your experience, the employer is trying to determine whether or not your personality is the right fit for the job
  • Imagine you were the hiring manager. What type of candidate would you be seeking?  Be ready to provide examples that indicate that you possess the key personality traits

Tip #4: Research the organization:

  • By learning more about the organization, you can get a deeper understanding of their priorities.  This will help you anticipate questions that they might ask to determine if you are the right fit for their organizational culture.

Tip #5: Research salary information:

  • Never attend a job interview without having a general idea of the salary range for the position.  Check out HireCentennial for reliable sources of salary information.

Prepare for Virtual interviews with Big Interview Questions

Centennial College Big Interview

One tool to help you practice your interview skills is Big Interview  (, a web-based mock interview program available to students at Centennial College that allows you to practice hundreds of industry-specific interview questions.  It gives you the opportunity to record, review and retry your responses.

Would you hire you? Find out with Big Interview. Practice interviewing. Anytime. Anywhere. Receive feedback on your performance.

  • Step 1. Create an account by logging into HireCentennial (Big Interview is in the ‘Online Tools’ section)
  • Step 2. Watch the video tutorial
  • Step 3. Start practicing your interview skills!

*A webcam and microphone are required*

Virtual interviews – either synchronous or asynchronous- have become much more common. While virtual interviews are often conducted in real time, this type of communication requires certain considerations and adjustments.

Here are some tips to help set you up for success:

  • Test your Technology. Make sure you have a stable internet connection, a working webcam, and a microphone. If the onscreen image is grainy, or you’re experiencing an echo, consider investing in a mini webcam with a built-in microphone.
  • Set up your Interview Space. Find a room with optimal lighting. Once settled, eliminate all distractions (turn off your TV, cellphone, and close nearby windows to minimize background noise). A neutral background or blank wall works well to ensure that you are the focal point of the conversation.
  • Monitor your Body Language on Camera. Sit up straight and demonstrate good posture. This will help you to present a positive impression and convey a confident and professional image.
  • Maintain Eye Contact.  Look into the camera as often as possible. This will give the interviewer(s) the sense that you are engaged and not distracted.
  • Speak Slowly and Clearly. This will allow the employer to hear and understand you despite any wi-fi delays or microphone malfunctions.
Mock Interview with Centennial Employment Advisor
You can also book a mock interview with a Centennial Student Employment Advisor. They will ask you interview questions based on the target job and provide feedback on how you did!


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