Job Searching

Job interview: how to prepare

Preparation is key if you are to deal with the tough questions at the job interview. Find out how to convince employers you are right for the job.

Attending a job interview is a nerve-wracking experience for most people, but it is also your best opportunity to clarify whether the position is for you and whether you have good chemistry with the employer.

Fortunately, you can prepare for the interview and most of the questions in advance, so that you can showcase your strengths as best as possible at the interview.

Do thorough research before the job interview

You have probably already done thorough research when you wrote your job application. And if not, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the employer's values, challenges and tasks, so that you can proactively show what you can bring to the position when you sit down for the job interview.

You can divide your competences into professional and personal competences and prepare your arguments for how you will use them to solve the tasks mentioned in the job advertisement. Feel free to prepare some concrete examples of how you have used the skills in your previous jobs.

How to find your strongest skills

Don't overthink what you're wearing for the job interview

You probably have no doubt that you have to iron your shirt or put on nice shoes when you go to a job interview, but how much does your attire matter?

In a survey by the recruitment agency Ballisager from 2022, just 5 percent of employers respond that they react negatively if a candidate wears clothes that do not match the workplace culture. In other words, you can take it easy and show up for the job interview in normal, nice clothes that you feel comfortable in.

Take your notes with you and take new ones during the job interview

If you are worried about forgetting some of your points for the job interview, it is a good idea to print out your CV and a piece of paper with your most important arguments and take them with you. It only makes you seem serious and well-prepared.

It is also a good idea to bring a pen and pad to the job interview so that you can take notes on the go. Write down important information about the job or questions you need answered.

Your notes are also useful if you move on to a second round of interviews, because you can refresh what you have talked about. A job interview is a nerve-wracking situation, and you may end up using so much energy to be present and appear approachable that you forget the details of what you talked about. Here, the notebook is your friend.

On the other hand, be careful not to bring your computer with you for your notes. You may appear more distant when it is between you, and you risk fumbling with technical problems along the way.

Use your nervousness constructively during your job interview

A job interview is an exciting situation, and it's likely to give most people sweaty palms. The best thing you can do to curb nervousness is to simply accept it.

If your nerves are particularly bad, it might also help to start by saying that you are nervous, so that you don't have to put effort into hiding it. The vast majority of employers understand this.

In fact, the nervousness, if it doesn't become too dominant, is an advantage because it sets you up to perform better. Maybe it helps to think that your body reacts the way it does to help you in your job interview.

Regardless of whether you get very nervous for the job interview or not, it is still a good idea that you practice thoroughly from home. The more times you get to say your arguments, the more naturally you will be able to present them at the interview. But avoid making a speech paper that you have to memorize. Then you come to seem mechanical, and you risk coming to a complete standstill if you forget something at some point.

Start the job interview by telling about yourself

The classic opening question for the job interview is: Tell us a little about yourself. But it is also partly a trick question, because the idea is not that you have to tell a lot of personal details about yourself.

Instead, you must briefly and precisely talk about your experience from previous jobs and your education. Select a few points in your CV that make sense to talk about in relation to the specific position, and feel free to talk about your motivation for the job.

Your presentation should just get you started, so keep it to about a minute.

Be humble without being self-effacing

For your job interview, you must convince the employer of two things: That your professionalism is in order and that you are a good colleague to work with. This means that you have to find the right balance between talking about all your excellence without it tipping over into bragging.

A good basic rule is that you must talk about your results when you highlight yourself. Instead of talking a lot about how smart and skilled you are in your subject, you can mention a task that you have previously solved and which illustrates that you have the professionalism in order.

Tell what is particularly interesting to you about the job

The most important thing is that the people who meet you at the job interview can sense your motivation for both the position and the company. Therefore, you must also practice talking about it.

For example, you can talk about why you are interested in exactly the challenges the company is working on, and that it does so in a way that particularly interests you. Or if, for example, the company emphasizes that it is innovative and experimental, then emphasize that you yourself appreciate being able to think new and differently.

If the company is known for a lot of collaboration across disciplines and teams, your answer could include this and at the same time show that you want to be part of the team. In other words, show that you fit into the culture.

Tell about your weak points for the job interview

A typical question for the job interview is what your weak points are.

When preparing for your job interview, think about when you were challenged in a previous job and how you handled it. It could be, for example, that you have had difficulty saying no to tasks, or that you are very thorough and are therefore pressured to meet deadlines.

Then you can explain that you are aware of it and that you have become better at letting go and gradually have a good sense of when things are good enough, and that you otherwise ask your colleagues or manager so that they can help to guide you.

No one is flawless, but it is reassuring for the employer if you are aware of your challenges and dare to articulate them.

Prepare your elevator pitch

At the end of many interviews, you will be given two minutes to convince the company that they should hire you. It is time for your elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a short presentation of yourself, your competences and your ambitions. The concept has come about because you need to imagine that you are employed in a major company and enter the elevator, where you stand next to the busy CEO. You now have 30 seconds to present yourself in the best possible way. In a job interview, an elevator pitch may take a couple of minutes.

In your elevator speech, you must be able to briefly and precisely say what you stand for and what motivates you. What is relevant experience in relation to the specific job? What can you contribute with personal skills? What are your most important professional skills? What results will you deliver - and how will you contribute to team spirit?

At the end of the elevator pitch, you can say that you think it has been a really good interview and you are now even more interested in the job.

Be ready to discuss salary at the job interview

It is a good idea to first find out what the salary level is for the position you are applying for, even before the first interview. Then you have to find out where your lower limit is and be willing to turn it down if you are offered the job with a salary that is below your limit. 

When the employer asks what you want in salary, it is a good idea to politely ask what the employer himself thinks is a fair salary for the position. Sometimes the employer's pitch is higher than you expect, and it's a shame to talk yourself down.

After this, you can play a little higher than your real desire, so you have something to negotiate on. If you hope to get DKK 45,000, you can say DKK 48,000. That way you push up the salary, and the DKK 3,000 is not enough to scare the employer away if the DKK 45,000 is within the range.

Read IDA's guide to negotiating salary and terms when you get a new job

Prepare your own questions for the job interview

At the job interview, you will often be asked if you yourself have any questions about the position. Here it shows that you are committed and proactive if you ask, and of course it gives you a better understanding of the job you are applying for.

Examples of good questions can be:

  • How would you describe the culture in the workplace?
  • How do you prioritize the various tasks in the position?
  • What expectations do you have of me in the first 6/12 months?
  • How do you work with feedback and sparring?