Interview Do’s and Don’ts

When going for an interview, the most important thing is to be PREPARED. How do you prepare? Well the easiest way is to practice common questions that employers ask during an interview such as:

–          what are your strengths

–          what attracts you to this position and why do you want to work for us

–          tell me about yourself

Prepare your answers to these questions prior to the interview and ask a friend or a family member to conduct a mock interview with you, which will give you a chance to practice the answers that you prepared.

Interviews are never easy and you may be faced with some difficult questions. Here are some examples of difficult questions and some helpful tips on how to answer them:

Have you ever been fired or laid off?

If you’ve been laid off, you explain reasons such as a downturn in the economy. If you’ve been fired, then you need to be honest. However, don’t provide them with the details, but instead be brief and don’t badmouth a former employer.

Gaps in Employment History

While gaps may be undeniable, it doesn’t mean you lack necessary qualifications. Try to put the gap in a positive light. For example, highlight any skills gained or used during that absence. If you continued your involvement with professional organizations, volunteer or returned to school to further education, then feel confident to mention it.

Personal Questions

Under federal and provincial laws, it is illegal to discriminate against applicants on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, disability, and age. It is also illegal to discriminate against sexual orientation. Therefore, any questions regarding these topics are inappropriate, illegal, and have nothing to do with whether or not you can perform essential functions of a job.

Behavioural Interview Questions:

This is a very common technique that Canadian employers use during an interview and they are looking for “behavioural patterns” and the demonstration of certain skills, rather than “correct answers”.  You could be asked to describe a situation with certain parameters in which you have been involved.  Some examples include:

–          Tell me about a time you had trouble working with a particular colleague or supervisor and how did you work towards overcoming those difference?

–          Give me an example of a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.

One strategy for preparing for behavioural questions is to use the STAR Technique as described below:

S/T (Situation or Task): Describe the situation that you were in or the task that you needed to accomplish.

A (Action you took): Describe the action you took and be sure to keep the focus on you.

R (Results you achieved): What was the result? What did you learn?

A useful website with more examples of behavioural questions as well as a detailed description of the STAR technique can be found at:

Top 5 Interview Tips:

  1. Be prepared; practice both the common and behavioural interview questions
  2. Research the company prior to the interview
  3. Don’t be late for an interview; do a “test drive” the day before your interview, so you know where the company is located and won’t get lost on the day of your interview
  4. After the interview, ask for the business card of the person who interviewed you in order to have a direct contact to follow up with after your interview
  5. Send a thank you email or send a thank note