HOW TO: Ace An Interview

Photo credit: Christina @

We are inarguably heading towards the close of the ABH recruitment season. Every organization, from the philanthropic-minded and the political to the conversation-driven and the book-oriented, has had its recruitment poster circulating in recent times. The forms attached to each poster vary too widely for me to offer you any suitable advice. However, the interviews that will likely follow are a different case. Interviews commonly follow a similar structure so if you have been wondering how you’ll impress your interviewers and improve your chances, feel free to take notes.

Photo by Olawale Munna

An interview, regardless of how informal the organisation might seem, is a formal activity. It goes without saying that you need to look formal. As disheartening as it might seem to you, this means shoes, not palms or sandals; formal trousers, not a pair of dark jeans; and always, socks for men. While I understand the compulsion to think that since these organizations are led by students just like you, they “should” be understanding and a looser dress code would fly. I assure you that is far from the case. They hold themselves to high standards and to be fair, so should you.


I have found that although this principle was created for war, it very easily serves as a guide in many other aspects of life. Before you go into any interview, you should be able to say a little about the history or objectives of the organization, a lot about yourself which includes why you want to be a part of the organization and why they should want you, and finally, a decent amount about the organisation and its current array of activities. Knowing these helps you properly pitch yourself to your interviewers, paints you as a sharp and efficient interviewee, and earns you brownie points.

Photo by Brett Jordan

Surprisingly often, when interviewees are asked to introduce themselves and they go as far as their names, levels and departments, then pump the brakes leaving the interviewers to have to press for more. You likely already filled out a form giving them this information. While you should still mention these, it is important to add a little more backstory. This can be anything from your family and your living situation to your hobbies or facts about you that you think might be interesting or relevant to the organization you are applying to. It is an opportunity to share something they’ll find memorable or display your prowess with hard and/or soft skills.


As comical as it might sound, it needs to be said: you are the interviewee, not the interviewer. Being told “make yourself comfortable” is no invitation for you to deeply slouch or sit as though you are in your parents’ living room. That is too comfortable and I for one, have been put off by such behaviour from interviewees time and again. Interviewees tend to overlook these and rather worry about their diction and eloquence. It is okay to stutter, laugh nervously or take a moment to find your words. It is unlikely these will be held against. However, do your best to always get your point across and answer all questions posed. If you are not sure what is being asked of you, you are free to ask your interviewers to kindly paraphrase.

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk

Interviews are often short ventures lasting between 10-20 minutes. You can afford to not use your mobile device during this period. It might be “difficult” but you truly can. It should also go without saying that for the duration of an interview, your phone should be on silent or vibrate mode. It has no business interrupting your interview. However, if you happen to be awaiting an important call or message, do politely inform your interviewers with a tenable reason at the beginning of the session.  It is important to state that despite this, checking your phone multiple times during an interview will likely still come off as rude. However, with a good reason, your interviewers are likely to overlook it.

Worth mentioning for those having virtual interviews, you should have your interview from a suitable venue with adequate lighting. Under no reason should you be found in a bar, party, or even a place of worship that is in session. These are the basics of interviewing. Follow them and they definitely won’t steer you wrong. Kindly do not waste my efforts and make me proud at your interviews. ABH Press wishes you the best of luck.

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