Tips to ace an interview...online or offline

Interviewing isn’t easy, and navigating between in-person and video interviewing can be tricky. Here's a handy guide from Edward Ovadia - nbn's Talent Strategy and Sourcing Specialist - that will help you stand out from the crowd... online and offline.

Technology and digital innovations are changing how we recruit.

When you turn up for your next job interview, you might sit down across the table from your interviewer; but you might equally be on the other side of the country.

Skype interviewing, remote interviews, and even pre-recorded video interview questions are increasing in popularity as technology makes these options more accessible.

As well as the actual interviewing process, the way candidates and employers find each other has also evolved.

Long gone are the days of job ads in newspapers and paper CVs; presenting yourself on LinkedIn, active networking, nurturing a talent community, and developing a strong employer brand are the new essential recruitment tools. 

However while a lot has changed, the skills needed to stand out in an interview remain the same. As a candidate, a strong interview is often the difference between giving a great account of yourself, and going home empty handed. 

At nbn, we interview thousands of people a year – online and offline – so we know what makes a good interview!  Here's a few things we've picked up on the way.

Do the basics

Arrive 10 minutes early, in a well-ironed outfit, and don't forget a jacket.

Be polite to the receptionist, make conversation, and acknowledge others in the elevator. Make sure to research the company - corporate website, Google, news sites - and the interviewers themselves on LinkedIn - you might even have a few mutual connections you can talk about!

Be confident, give a firm handshake, look your interviewer in the eye, lean in, and smile - first impressions are a powerful thing.

If you’re interviewing online or via video, set the stage carefully. Make sure you have a quiet room with no distractions, your background is neutral and uncluttered, and technology is working and fully charged.

And don’t forget the basics just because you’re not in the same room as your interviewer – eye contact and body language are even more important over video.

Know yourself

At some point, you can bet someone will ask you a variation of "So Robert, tell me a bit about your background". Make sure you can describe yourself and your past roles succinctly. After all, this is usually meant to be the freebie or warmup question.

Have examples up your sleeve

Most interviews have a behavioural component. This means providing an example of a time you performed a certain task - outlining the situation, your actions, and their result. These typically take one of two forms - either hard skills based on your experience, or soft skills based on your personal approach. Prepare examples ahead of time and then pick the ones that best highlight what the interviewer has asked for.

For digital interviews: You can also offer to share supporting documents with the interviewer during or after the interview, via email or screen sharing. This is particularly useful in video interviews – just make sure your screen is sanitised before sharing with the interviewer; and that any email address you use is professional – name and numbers only, no nicknames!

Make everything relevant

Always make sure the job you're interviewing for is front of mind, and that all your answers are directly related. If the job is a sales job, pick examples that highlight sales experience, and emphasise skills like communication, negotiation, and tenacity.

Be inquisitive and passionate

Have some questions ready for when you're asked. Make sure they show you've thought about the role and company a little  - "given the current market activity in Australia and a possible entry by Overseas Competitor A, how do you think the company will respond?" is a much better question than "what are the working hours?".

In person, it’s good to ask questions throughout the interview, as part of an active conversation with the interviewer. 


Online, however, it can be risky to interject as video lag can be an issue – so make sure you have a clear break in the conversation, or save your questions for the end.

Ask for the job

No, really. Make sure you check at the end of the interview if you've answered all the questions adequately, and whether the interviewer needs any other information from you before making up their mind.

You should then ask what the next steps are, and even whether they would feel comfortable putting you forward to the next round.

Know what makes you special

This is the most important part of all, as interviews can be won and lost on the fringes. If you're interviewing for a Project Manager role, you can assume that most people you're competing against have similar skills in the core components of the role.

But everyone has something that makes them stand out - while it might only be five per cent or less of the role, it can make you memorable in the interviewer's mind, and get you over the line.

It might be the 12 month stint you did in marketing that left you with a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and behaviours; or the hours you spend online feeding your personal passion for technology and innovation; or your side projects contributing to blogs and online articles. Whatever it is, understand it, and make sure to highlight it.

Ready to put your new interview skills to the test?  nbn is on a significant ramp up this year, so why not come and join us! Click here to check out all our latest jobs - check back often, we post dozens of new ones every week.