11 interview tips that could get you a job!

Published: February 26, 2013

For the love of God, don’t try to be Mr Best or Ms Know-it-all. PHOTO: REUTERS

I am only a non-HR professional with about two and a half years of professional experience, however, I always believe that interviewers for all sorts of jobs typically look out for more or less similar traits in their interviewee.

Below is the list of 11 things that contributed to my successful interview.

1. The first impression

This is the least one can do.

Walking into an interviewer’s office in a neat-pressed suit, manicured nails, polished shoes and well-done shave can help you bag those instant free marks. Whereas, on the other hand, showing up at the interview just out of bed can totally turn your interviewer off.

Yes, take this seriously.

2. LOL (Laugh out little)

No one’s asking you to be a comedian over there, but yes, please show a little bit of Russell Peters in you (very subtly though). Interviewers appreciate a good sense of humour and trust me, if the interviewer’s teeth-show over your funny comments, it will definitely give you an Eno bulbulay kind of relief.

3. Less is more

It is brilliant if you have written three thesis and four research papers, but that certainly doesn’t mean that you need an equally lengthy resume too. An ideal resume should not be more than two pages, with all the essential details neatly and clearly listed, preferably in bullet points. Interviewer will refer to your resume on and off during the interview and imagine the pain he has to go through flipping that ‘vinci code’ back and forth.

4. And I was like, I mean, umm…

Nothing offensive, but several people among us are not very used to communicating in English in their everyday life, hence lack fluency. That long pause can really butcher the impression of a very potential candidate. Therefore, make sure that you have put your room mirror to better use by practicing a little bit of public speaking and get your speech in rhythm.

A few smart hand gestures can add positively too.

5. Fuel up your sweet-o-meter

Your thoughts should reflect optimism and positivity; nobody wants to hire a jealous potato. Thus, be it speaking about your previous employer, your tough university days or conflicts at work, speak positive. Dust a little sugar over your bitter past relationships or experiences, it indeed is much needed.

6. Own your negativities

For the love of God, don’t try to be Mr Best or Ms Know-it-all.

A common interview question is always about your negative traits. This is an important question as it allows the interviewer to judge how honest and analytical you are. You don’t have to tell them how many glasses you break when you are angry, but speaking of a negative quality and how well you manage it, can actually be impressive.

7. Edging over others

You should always be aware that every contender, who is being interviewed, will have similar or sometimes even higher qualification and better refined experience than you. So what is so special that should make you; ‘the chosen one’. It is that X-factor or your USP. Talk about some sort of charisma that you possess, or if not possess, just invent one beforehand.

8. Jumanji revisited; answers in questions

Sometimes, an interviewer indicates what he is expecting to hear back from you. Just be vigilant and listen between lines. For example, if he asks your opinion about working late for deadlines, he is definitely seeking willingness and commitment in your response.

9. Jack of all

When interviewer asks you about latest IFRS development on one hand, he may want to discuss that penalty shot in the premier league match last night too. Prepare yourself for an all-round approach by skimming through latest technical news as well as current affairs and sports, to conquer that battle of knowledge.

10. Align claims and experiences

Everyone’s resume declares them a leader, a team player or an all-rounder but what interests interviewers is, how did you develop such characteristic. Speaking confidently about any of your past experiences, projects or events that demonstrated the quality that you claim in your resume will be a boom-boom sixer.

11. Battery full

Make sure that you have gotten enough sleep a night before, because yawning with a wide open mouth or having red zombie eyes is not going to work my friend. Equally important is that you have attended all nature’s calls well in time and are totally comfortable when being interviewed.

Whether it’s an espresso shot, a red bull or that ‘anda-paratha’ breakfast, please fuel your body appropriately in advance to ensure a smooth cosy experience during the interview.

I am not an interview guru over here and am sure that there are several more tips that readers can add in the comments. I just thought to jot down a few out of my own experience for people just like me who have sleepless nights, goose bumps and stomach upsets when thinking about interviews.

PS: Do your interviewer a favour and buy those mints!

Read more by Hina here, or follow her on Twitter @hinazj


Hina Jafri

A fraud risk consultant. She loves long conversations, basketball and travelling. With writing and photography as her passion, she aims to capture and reveal the essence of life around her in light humour. She tweets @hinazj

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • manish rohera

    the way i prepared was through mocks with my friends believe me they like to insult you most hence regressive interviews
    please make a list of FAQs but only just have an idea about them rather then mugging them as answers should be spontaneous
    keep some industry related knowledge about your key subjects
    prepare for question on strengths,weakness,achievement like an experience in your life which exemplifies it
    prepare for question on your hobbies
    have an elementary knowledge about company you apply for
    if you dont know the answer be frank say i dont know
    be confident but not over-confident
    always wish a lady first if in an interview panelRecommend

  • sensible

    Honestly thinking of interview never give me any chillers or goosebumps. I believe if you are confident that you are the right person for particular job, you’ll get it most of time. Yes you still be nervous but you feel better after initial 3-4 minutes.Recommend

  • Zee

    Nicely written.
    I think we need more articles based around these lines, so that people can gain some sort of knowledge or something.

    Dont agree with point 3 & 4.

    Resume has to has to be of single page period, unless you are a 5th year VP going on to a SVP position. Stats show that the hiring manager has just about 20-30 secs to scan through your resume. You really want to make it interesting and in a way that it leave him wondering, chances become high since he/she gets intrigued in finding out more.

    I work for one of the most prestigious insitutions in the world, and have had interviews at large global institutions, YOU CAN always wait, gather your thoughts and then come with an answer, rather than just blurting it out.

    Oh an yes be straight up and as honest as you can. Integrity is the most important thing.

    Try and be different, rather than having basic generic answers to the questions which are asked in every interview.

    Always follow up with a thank you e-mail, or something.

    Nicely done Hina, we need more like these in PakistanRecommend

  • Unknown

    lol, last time i check all u need is “Parchi” to get a jobRecommend

  • Jav

    Interesting blog. loved reading it!Recommend

  • amir jafri

    Interviews must be conducted in Urdu…so that the most brilliant minds can run the country.
    HIstory tells us the the most brilliant amongst us are the ones from peela schools, taat schools aur madressaas..English-medium types are godd only to run burger joints where their “accented” english has no value…even the toddlers there speaks in english.Recommend

  • GhostRider

    Well I ve tried most of them and believe me my interviews have gone really good most of the times, but somehow i didnt recieve that many calls….out of the 10 I gave 1 was successful and yes @unknown you are right parchi has a lot of weight (i dont wanna sound whinny kid but its a reality)Recommend

  • Asif

    These thing may help in getting a nice interview but they won’t necessarily get you the job.Recommend

  • Taher

    Spot on!Recommend

  • http://www.yahoo.com Yasser

    Excellent blog.Recommend

  • Naive

    @Zee: dude while you are at work in that one of the most prestigious instiutions in the world, please pray that I also get a good job soon iA :DRecommend

  • MR Humair

    A job well done. I have studied Human resource in my university and recently I also give couple of Interviews .Some of the key factors an interviewer must keep in mind is :Always smile and look into the eyes of the interviewer to show them you are confident .Your objective must be specific to the job description .Always remember to impress the interviewer by doing some home work before. Search about the company, its product, market views, its reputations, its objectives. One must also remember that in the end the interviewer he/she will ask you if you have any questions .Ask them relevant questions to show some concern .I interviewed for a assistant sales manager post but did not intend to work, had just interviewed to experience my self about some interview techniques. The interviewer was smart enough to observe my body gesture and did not offer me the job .He figured it out that I don’t need the job. Some times you need to be fake too. Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    Thanks for sharing valuable points. I had an experience when interviewer asked “If you manager comes in the morning and starts shouting over you what will be your response”. At that time i didn’t know the prudent answer and i replied that “I will ask the manager why you are shouting you should first tell me my mistake”
    What should be the best answers for such kind of irrelevant and misguided question by HR/Managers at the time of interview.Recommend

  • doom

    @amir jafri:
    Not everyone is applying for the job of “running the country”. Those jobs don’t have interviews anyway…

    And you can’t apply for the job of say “Communications Officer” and speak in Urdu throughout. But general rule of thumb: do what the interviewer does. It sounds bad if you get asked a question in Urdu and you reply in English and vice verca. Recommend

  • Marry Me

    in love with her subtle sense of humor!Recommend

  • Jude Allen

    Well written and much needed article. Very helpful for the inexperienced as well as novices. Just to add a few points that help:

    Positive Affirmation: Tell yourself the night before with conviction that The Job is Yours. You own it, you are right for it,, and belief in what your affirm. Affirmations!! Its the new science that helps give you get through a successful job interview. It will also help you sleep well at night.
    Body Language: The way you sit, walk, dress, smile and make eye contact is being noted down MORE than your resume. Regularly practicing dummy interviews in front of a mirror sometimes helps refine your ‘body language’ and create more appeal.
    Be prepared: This is the most common mistake we make of showing up for an interview without prior knowledge or research about the company. Know your objective and go there with a plan. Its a sure-win situation and shows natural confidence.

  • Parvez

    ………..and if you had to interview in front of a Seth to work in a Sethia outfit (many still function as such) what would you suggest ??Recommend

  • Sane

    Workable only for private jobs. Please write tips for Govt. jobs (in Pakistan) as well.Recommend

  • Pakistanian

    Please do me a favour and get me an interview in Pakistan without proper networking and contacts ……. what utter rubbish! Recommend

  • Zee

    @Naive iA, you will.
    “Nothing in the world can take place of persistence.
    Talent will not, nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
    Genius will not, unrewarded genius is just a proverb.
    Education will not, the world is full of educated failures.
    Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

    I see alot of posts about “perchi” system and all up there. I know it still prevails there in Pakistan, but the point is why would you want to work for a company/organization where there is perchi system. You will get a sifarish and get in but will come across hurdles throughout your careers. Isnt it better to wait and get in on merit, in a company/organization which values you for what your education/skill set etc?

    Alot of private companies/multi-nationals use normal processes for hiring.

    Instead of just filling the application out online, trying finding out about the recruiter or the hiring manager, shoot an email and all and show interest.

    As for serious interview, something which worked for me in the past, whenever I never moved forward in rounds, I would always get in touch with the recruiter/hiring manager and ask them their feedback, as to where I went wrong. 50-60% of the times you will get valuable feedback.

    Use linkedin, alot of Pakistani recruiters are active there.Recommend

  • gp65

    Some other suggestions:

    preparing for the interview by reading the company website, talking to people that might currently be working there or may have worked there earlier,
    asking what the key success metrics/criteria for the role would be , as early in the interview as you can and tailoring your answers to remaining questions keeping this in mind
    reading professional journals to be uptodate in your area of expertise,
    being prepared with a sensible professional question to respond to the interviewer when they invariably ask “what questions do you have”. Something that has worked for me is asking what questions/concerns the hiring manager may have about your ability to succeed in the role and addressing them directly
    sending a thank you note to the interviewer.

  • Sudheer

    I am writing this comment at the risk of myself being dubbed as a snob and also not writing it as an interviewee but as an interviewer. The author’s writeup is just shallow and hasn’t got anything to do with the reality. I have no idea of the kind of corporate sector that does exist in Pakistan or about the nature of the local job market. However, I just want to tell the young job aspirants of Pakistan that, all the tips given by the author to grab a job aren’t realistic and wouldn’t help you in any manner. First and foremost, you, a seeker of a job, must remember that, you are applying/aspiring for getting admitted into a group of people who are working on a certain kind of project, where you are supposed to contribute to its cause or success.
    The interviewer would be looking/searching for a right person with the required qualifications/capabilities to fulfill the vacuum or necessity. All that an interviewee has to do is to convince the interviewer that he/she is capable of meeting requisite demand. The interviewer would be thanking his luck if he is successful in finding the right person for the job. Remember an interviewer is not an independent person, he/she too, usually, happens to be an employee, entrusted with much greater responsibilities than an applicant can even imagine. Contrary to the popular perception, a selector is far more under stress than the interviewee, because, a misjudgement on the selector’s part could backfire on him/her at the later stage.
    A genuine and professional interviewer is seldom impressed by the nail polishes or the kind of jeans you wear, though the decent dress and mannerism are essential to make you more presentable. However, a professional employer can easily find out the potential of an applicant by asking him/her a few job specific, technical and other field related questions. There is no way you can fool him by your smile or perfume!

  • Waseem Sarwar

    These are few nice points and because i am myself searching a job these days, the best thing i find in my job hunt is that i am already working in a decent firm so its actually no pressure on me whenever i am going into an interview because i would have been dying to avail any chance which comes on my way if i knew that i would have to pay the house rent on first next month which will be possible if i get this job only.. Anyway just another thing too there is no penalty shot in the premier league. These matches are considered draw if scoreline is equal. :).Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    So basically at the end of point 7 you’re asking people to lie.

    Bravo. Recommend

  • Hina Jafri

    @Amir Jafri,
    Sir, English doesn’t make anyone a winner nor does it stand as the deciding criteria for hiring but where there is need of having a common language such as in MNC, this is the only option and so, we need to equip ourselves with fluency! :)

    @all those referring to parchi,
    i believe you guys, was just talking about the brighter side of the story! there still are several organisations that hire purely on merit basis, although very few in pakistan!

    @awais khan,
    well, yes you need to respond with rationalization, like i think if you word it appropriately, what you said makes sense.

    i don’t know what sethia business is! :)

    The things you have mentioned are ofcourse primarily important and i just intended to add those extras here and there that are sometimes overlooked or undermined due to focusing too much over the homework. i don’t think that’s shallow, may be detailed?

    interviews, besides the technical exchange of opinions, is a game of words, you are selling yourself and resume, its not called lieing! :)Recommend

  • Auditor

    Nice job. Once I was told that interview is like you’re selling yourself. So you have to present your self like a good product. Just measure what makes you buy a product among many.
    Packaging attracts you
    Features make you investigate more
    Last thing is just to show that you have the right skills to do the job. If you’re good at what you do, of course you’re preferred.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Hina Jafri: A sethia business is one run on the whims and fancy of a single ( sometimes two ) person and can be a very large business. Also known as the ‘ munshe culture ‘ and they do call in people for interviews but their mind-set is quite different from the traditional one that your blog and the comments refers to.
    I brought this up because it opens up possibilities for a creative mind to write a fun blog.Recommend

  • Madhia

    nice read.. thanks for the tips

    [link text][1]

    [1]: http://wannabehappyalways.wordpress.com/Recommend

  • Iftikhar Hussain

    Excellent writeup, Experienced similar things being an interviewer and interviewee ..Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    @Hina Jafri:
    Uh, no. Here’s what you said: “or if not possess, just invent one beforehand”. There are no misinterpretations here.

    That’s lying. Some of the best HR sites and guides in the world say never make up stuff. You’ll be found out eventually. The worst advice you can give a new interviewee is to lie.Recommend

  • http://thejaffair.blogspot.ae/ Hina Jafri


    I ain’t asking anyone to lie over here, ofcourse if you are an undergraduate, you cant say you hold a doctorate! these are factual questions….
    but there always is a question asking what’s so special about you, how are you different than others and blagh…
    so sometimes there is an obvious answer to that like you may have some matchless experience from world’s no.1 firm that gives you an edge over others or there might be some award that you have won, which just makes you le supremo out of all other candidates

    ….but if you don’t have any such explicit usp…you need to think beforehand! for a person like me, who was a fresher when interviewed, there was no such distinctive feature that my resume owned, so i said midas touch…lol….i told him whenever i participate in an activity or event, I make sure its a success!

    that’s what I meant, invent doesnt mean fabricate, rather brainstorm or something. wrong choice of words may be!


  • https://twitter.com/AreeshZubair Areesh Zubair

    “For the love of God, don’t try to be Mr Best or Ms Know-it-all.” this line says it allRecommend

  • Stranger

    We should be aware of our shortcomings at the time of giving interviews.that itself gives us strength to face the questions.Recommend

  • pani ka horse

    @Asif you wrote: “These thing may help in getting a nice interview but they won’t necessarily get you the job”
    how can one get the job without passing the interview? on a similar note, one call pass the interview using interview tips but probably not be very successful during his work tenure.
    nice blog.Recommend

  • Sarfaraz

    i tend to agree with Sudheer. Have had a 28 year corporate career in 5 countries/ 6 companies..done hundreds of interviews and in my last role had 5500 employees reporting. A lot of cliches are being put out in the name of HR. don’t remember any CV affecting the end result in all these years. All my job calls have been due to the name of Unilever and Pepsi. I have walked into interviews and been perfectly natural, umms and aahhhs, laughs and jokes, etc knowing that my experience made me right for the role. Never have I tried to falsely impress others and in all these years, I cannot remember anyone shallow and trying to impress myself or colleagues getting away with it.. That is a sure way to lose the opportunity..don’t even try it.
    You need to look at the job content and if it suits you, then go at it with utmost confidence. You will get it. Be yourself. Its a marriage. If u get into a role which u cannot do, that is a sure way to a lot of pain. Not worth it. And please none of these cliches. They will not help. Recommend

  • Javeria Arshad

    The only thing I would recommend is strictly sticking to a one pager as a resume, as I have been advised by a multitude of professionals. Executives/ recruiters barely have the time to skim over a one page sheet let alone flip to the next. Given the age range of young professionals, it is hardly possible to have 2 pages worth of real, relevant experience to show and may in fact turn the interviewer off.

    Some good points overall though!Recommend