Interviewing - Getting That Job

by Jane Tredgett

What interviewers look for

Critical factors will vary, depending on the role for which you are being interviewed. In general, a candidate will be rated positively if they

  • Show that they have prepared for the interview by undertaking research on the role and the organisation
  • Listen actively and patiently while being asked questions
  • Make good eye contact (not looking away, but not too intense either)
  • Show interest through their expression
  • Exhibit an active, enthusiastic body state
  • Probe for clarification if they are unsure how to answer the question
  • Have prepared some questions (not just about rates of pay!)
  • Ask intelligent, well-informed questions.

Body language – lying or stress

The following signs can indicate someone is lying or feeling very stressed. The problem is deciding whether it is nerves or lying – as the signs are virtually identical. Try to avoid giving out these signals – although this is easier said than done:

  • Sweaty palms (it might be difficult to see this once the actual interview has started)
  • Blushing
  • Dry mouth (shown by excessive swallowing)
  • Feet to door – might suggest ‘I want to be out of here’
  • No eye contact
  • Increased/exaggerated eye contact (people who are good at lying will often make too much eye contact, as they know that looking away may suggest lying)
  • Detached responses – not using ‘I’ when explaining something you claim to be responsible for (saying ‘a decision was made’ rather than ‘I made the decision’, for example)
  • Vague answers to a question, with few specifics, may indicate a lie or exaggeration
  • Slow, uneven speech with rapid bits as if to gloss over that part
  • Decreased hand gestures
  • Increased hand to mouth touching
  • Fluff picking may suggest you are withholding an opinion
  • Extremities (fingers/toes) move and may provide clues you are feeling frustrated by a question.

A genuine interest in the job

Always prepare some key questions – remember you are ‘interviewing’ the organisation as well!

Also remember that your questions can give the interviewer a good idea as to how thoroughly you have researched the role and company.

It is not generally seen as a good sign if the only questions you ask concern how much you get paid or whether weekend work is required... If you do have questions about the pay structure, one option is to wait and ask about these more discreetly, perhaps by means of a separate telephone call to the Human Resources department.

Have two or three questions up your sleeve, but try not to labour too long – a good interviewer should have allowed plenty of time, but many cram interviews too close together and your questions may cause an overrun, putting the interviewer in an embarrassing position with the next candidate. Although it is the interviewer’s fault, it may still cause an awkward feeling that they associate with you.

Job references

In addition to the interviewer’s personal judgements, a key (and often under-used) tool is the references an applicant has supplied. Many organisations do not follow these up or, if they do, it is after the applicant has been in the job for several months.

Make sure your references are genuine and that the people you select will paint a positive picture of you, as you may just be applying to one of the few companies which are very diligent about checking references!

Let your referees know you would like to provide their details beforehand so they are prepared for any contact the organisation makes with them


It is important that interviewers keep accurate legible notes to refer back to. Be prepared for the fact the interviewer may take notes and try not to feel threatened by this. It is the sign of a good interviewer and one who is likely to be fairer in their decision-making process.

If there is a co-interviewer, you may find that one asks the questions and the other is appointed as note taker.

If you feel you have been discriminated against unfairly, the notes may be a vital piece of evidence.