Succeeding in job interviews

Your overseas experience is valuable, so it is important you know how to communicate this effectively to New Zealand employers.

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Interviews in New Zealand can be different to what you are used to. New Zealanders are quite informal, and this will be reflected in the interview process. You may also find you are interviewed by anything from one to three or four people, and that your interviewer is of the opposite gender. 

Before the interview, find out as much as you can about your potential employer. Think about your skills, how they apply to the role and what practical examples you can offer to back up your suitability for the job. Dress smartly so you make the right impression and make sure you arrive on time.

For professional roles, job interviews are usually behavioural interviews. By understanding this process and knowing the common questions asked, you will know how to present your skills, qualifications and experience in a way that New Zealand employers understand.

In behavioural interviews, you are asked to give examples of how you have behaved in previous work situations. The questions will ask you to describe that situation and what you did to reach a solution or goal. 

Behavioural interview answers and questions (5:02)

This video will show you how to prepare for and answer behavioral questions in an interview.  

Find out about the employer - Going for an interview is daunting but it is all in the preparation if you know what the organization does. You will feel more confident about answering their questions and people interviewing you will be impressed. Checking the organization's website is usually the best way to learn more about what they do. Check with HR what dress code they expect at the interview. Some employers such as IT companies prefer smart casual as it's a better fit with their work culture. Practice answering interview questions and prepare your own questions, review the Job Description along with your CV and cover letter to help you practice answers to interview questions. This way you will know which of your skills and abilities to highlight in the interview for behavioural interview questions. Those that focus on your past performance in a situation you will need to have six to seven examples ready before the interview, it's also important to prepare your own questions as you will likely be asked at the end of the interview whether you have any questions. The best interviewees are the ones that are always prepared.

It is important applicants research the company and its values and it's obviously always good if you're on time at least five minutes before your interview is about to start. You'll be asked some general questions but a large proportion of your questions will be behavioral interview questions. Here are some examples: "Tina can you describe a situation you've been under stress" listen carefully to what you're being asked and treat each question as a chance to demonstrate your strengths. "So, Tina can you tell me about a time when you had to deal with conflict." Pause before answering if you don't understand a question and ask the interviewer to rephrase the question, that way they will ask the same question using different words. "Thanks for rephrasing the question, I just want to make sure I can understand question exactly right way "Tina can you please tell me about a time when you had to adjust to change" Talk for no less than 30 seconds and no more than two minutes per answer. A good way of approaching these kind of questions is using the star method it breaks down the answer into four manageable parts. So, using the question, give me an example of how you solved a problem situation, give the context of your situation "in one of my previous positions, I always have large companies as my clients so changing between different projects would be always the challenge for me."

 Tasks - explain the tasks you were required to complete and exactly "there was new project come in from a new
client with a very tight deadline" an action describe the specific actions you took to achieve the task: "I was using my network to find a contractor for that project and later I was motivating and leading the team for to project to complete the project and also I was using my project management skills and also the disciplines to help the whole team focus on the task and be engaged. In-home projects, describe the result of your actions - The project was completed on time and within budget and since then, more importantly, we had new clients as the repeat business. Another thing from this how experience - what I learned is I can motivate the team I can create a great team culture through those experiences. 


Now you've reached the end of the interview, it is your turn to ask your questions. Remember the interview is about a specific position, not just about you showing some interest and enthusiasm for the job. To emphasise you're keen, find otu what the next steps are in the process. 

"Thanks very much for coming today, that's the end of our questions and thank you for your questions. "Nick, next steps from here are once we move the recruitment process quickly, we will be in touch soon to let you know the outcome." "Sure, thank you very much, thank you. 

Download the Victoria University of Wellington textbook

Behavioural interviews are more common in government or office jobs. If you are applying for a trade-related job, you may be less likely to go through this type of interview.

The following examples of interview scenarios will help you to express yourself confidently, positively and professionally in a New Zealand job interview. You can avoid common misunderstandings that you may experience from cultural differences. Test out the scenarios below and download the Victoria University of Wellington textbook.


Make sure you give a good impression by being friendly and professional.
New Zealand employers do not want to hear long stories. Having a relevant, well-structured answer ready can help.
It helps to consider why the interviewer may be asking you a question.
It is important to keep your answer organised, clear and focussed.
Let the interviewer know how your experience outside New Zealand is valuable to them.
Show the interviewer that you can fit in with the informal way of working in New Zealand.
Present your past experience and skills confidently but without sounding boastful.
Let your employer know you can think critically and identify areas where you can learn.

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Page last updated: 22/06/2020

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