Top 4 interview tips

Even the most skilled experts and enthusiastic graduates can crumple under the judging questions of an interviewer, and few people have the confidence to remain unfazed by the process.

While it is difficult to remove the worry altogether, treating your job interview as a business presentation should give you more clarity and confidence, which will result in you getting your meaning across more effectively and giving you a better chance to impress.

Here are four steps to help you make the right impression.

1. Research
Once you receive an invitation to a job interview, research absolutely everything about the company. Visit the website, read the brochure, do a Google search on the key figures like the CEO and find mentions about the company in the media. Build up a good resource bank of information about what the company does, how it is perceived and what its goals are.

In addition to this, look up practical information too. Find the address and figure out how to get there. Check for practicalities like parking, weather, rush-hour traffic and dress code. Finally, find the contact details of a person you can reach in case something goes wrong and you’re running late – a quick call at the right time could save your opportunity.

2. Prepare

Preparing is the cornerstone of any successful presentation. Use your research and refer to your CV as you prepare exactly what you want to say, do and show during the interview.

While you cannot hold a speech yourself, you can anticipate the types of questions that will be asked and prepare structured, coherent responses. Simply having this bank of rehearsed answers should make you feel more confident about your potential value and contribution to the company.

Don't forget to prepare a list of questions that you want to ask the interviewer. You should get an opportunity to ask them during the interview and it shows initiative and interest if you ask insightful questions.

3. Your presentation tools
If you need to bring a portfolio of work, make sure that everything is neat, orderly, well organised and up-to-date.  Your presentation tools should supplement and illustrate your interview, rather than being a crutch to lean on.

During the interview, be sure to refer to your portfolio but do not fiddle with it, as this will distract the interviewer and make you seem nervous.

4. Master body language
The most important part of the interview itself is presenting a confident, positive and enthusiastic attitude, and this is communicated through body language.

Pay attention to your voice (use an even, friendly tone and speak clearly), facial expressions (keep your face open and engaged and make eye contact), posture (sit upright but comfortably) and movement (use some confident gestures but don’t overdo them, and don’t fiddle).

Try to make sure you “fill up” the right amount of space with your presence. Sitting hunched up with arms and legs crossed makes you seem small and unsure, while leaning back gesturing wildly makes you look arrogant. Find an even mean between these two – enough to be confident and alert, but not too much that you take over the whole room.

The part-time University of Cape Town Business Presentations short course starts on 16 May 2011. For more information contact Lyndsay on 021 447 7565 or, or visit

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