The purpose of the job application, resume, and cover letter is to lead to a job interview. If you have been asked to interview, congratulations as you this likely means you have been selected as one of the final candidates for the job. An interview is an opportunity for both the employer and you to learn more about one another and, ultimately, to determine whether or not you are compatible.

Depending on the company and job, the type of interview may vary, and you may go through more than one interview.

Types of Interviews

Interviews may take place at a place of business in an office building or worksite, at a public location like a coffee shop or library, remotely by phone or video chat, or digitally by website or app.

Screening Interviews: Screening interview are often only a five- to ten-minute remote interviews used to narrow down the candidates before scheduling hiring/placement interviews.

Hiring/Placement Interviews: Hiring or placement interviews are face-to-face or remote meetings between employers and candidates to determine the best candidate for a job. Who is involved in the interviews is dependent on the employer and job.

  • One-on-one interviews (one employer representative and one candidate)
  • Panel interviews (several employer representatives and one candidate)
  • Group interviews (one or more employer representatives and several candidates)
  • Sequential interviews (one employer representative and one candidate but multiple meetings)
  • Remote interviews (any of the above formats but by phone or video chat)
  • Stress interviews (any of the above formats but the employer representative(s) purposely stress the candidate(s) with long waits, tests, and/or rude interviewers to determine how they will perform under pressure)

Digital Interviews: Also known as one-way, asynchronous, and virtual interviews, digital interviews are automated. The employer provides written and/or recorded questions using a web link or app, and the candidate answers the questions using a webcam, smartphone, or other suitable device. This enables interviews to take place wherever and whenever is convenient.

Before the Interview

A good interview starts before the interview. Make sure that if the employer phones you to ask for an interview, your outgoing message uses professional phone techniques and you answer at a time you can talk and in a location without background noise.

The employer is looking for the right fit for their company, so research the company. What is the company history, mission statement, and reputation? Where are they located? How big are they? Who are their managers, customers, and competition? This information can often be found online, on location, or through mutual contacts.

Lastly, prepare by studying the job description, practicing answers to typical interview questions, and ensuring your public online presence is professional.

Want to know more? Learn how you can ensure your online presence is professional: How to Clean Up Your Social Media for Work

During the Interview

In Canada, employers are looking for qualified and engaged employees. Therefore, not only the answers to the questions are important in the interview but also your communication skills.

Non-Verbal Communication Skills


  • Dress appropriately
  • Be timely
  • Shake hands, regardless of gender
  • Allow for personal space (approximately an arm’s length)
  • Manage body language, including having good posture, making eye contact, and smiling to convey a positive attitude
  • Listen attentively
  • Turn off or mute your cell phone and other electronics


  • Offend with strong scents (smoke, smelly foods, too much cologne or perfume)
  • Fidget
  • Chew gum
  • Slouch, cross your arms, fidget, or use other body positions that may make you seem disinterest or angry

Want to know more? Consider these guidelines when dressing for a job interview: How to Dress for a Job Interview

Verbal Communication Skills


  • Use good English and enunciate clearly
  • Be courteous and greet the employer confidently
  • Keep answers positive
  • Refocus to clarify vague questions (such as “By ____, do you mean ____?”)
  • Focus on your strengths
  • Aim answers at the key characteristics
  • Ask questions
  • Use “I” not “we” when you provide an example of something you have done. The interview panel wants to know what you did specifically.


  • Interrupt
  • Use one-word answers
  • Criticize anything or anyone
  • Use too many empty words (um, uh, like)
  • Tap your pen or foot or any other nervous habits. If you are nervous fold your hands together.

Want to know more? Learn about basic business etiquette in the Canadian workplace: Workplace Culture

A good interview starts before the interview.

Types of Interview Questions

Interviews generally consist of the same types of questions. Depending on the employer, questions may be direct or phrased in a way that requires you to give examples or develop a narrative. You can prepare by giving some thought to these basic categories before the interview:

Questions to Get to Know You: These questions are usually general and meant to set a comfortable tone for the interview.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses? When you are asked to explain your weaknesses, the interviewer is wanting to know what professional or work-related areas do you further development.
  • Do you prefer to work individually or on a team?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

Questions to Measure Your Interest: These questions determine whether you’ve done your research.

  • Why do you want to work for us?
  • What do you know about us?

Questions About Your Experience & Skills: These questions determine your qualifications.

  • Why should we choose you opposed to the other candidates?
  • What is your education/work history?
  • What are some of your accomplishments?

Questions About Your Behaviour: These questions determine your interpersonal skills and attitude.

  • Tell me about a time you’ve had to __________.
  • What would you do if you were confronted by a frustrated customer/co-worker?

Questions About the Future: These questions determine your goals and how they fit with the employer.

  • Where do you expect to see yourself in 5 years?
  • How would you be an asset to our team?

Questions About Money: These questions, though uncomfortable for some, are about salary.

  • What is your current salary?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • How much do you think you’re worth?

Want to know more? Review these typical interview questions: 3 Job Interview Questions You Will Be Asked in Canada.

Or check our Interview Preparation Checklist.

Illegal Questions

Employment laws prohibit employers to ask inappropriate questions regarding race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, age, marital status, family situation, arrest record, medical conditions, personal information such as height and weight, or disabilities.

  • Do you have a boyfriend/girlfriend?
  • Have you ever filed a worker’s compensation claim?

If you feel a question is appropriate in context or asked without the intent to discriminate, you may consider answering it or deflecting it. However, if you are uncomfortable answering a question or feel it is being asked with the intent to discriminate, you may consider exiting the interview or confronting the employer or human resources.

Want to know more? Learn the difference between legal and illegal interview questions: Interview Questions

Your Questions

Don’t forget that the interview is an opportunity for you to ask questions, too. Listen carefully as the employer will likely provide some answers unprompted. However, well-thought-out questions specific to the business show that you are interested in the company and that you are curious to know more. Ask other questions like:

  • What do you like best about working for this company?
  • What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to excel in this role?
  • What are the challenges of this position?
  • What have past employees done to exceed in this position?
  • How would you describe the company’s culture?
  • What does a typical day look like in this position?

Don’t forget that the interview is an opportunity for you to ask questions, too.

After the Interview

Here are a few last things to keep in mind once the question-period is done and the hard part of waiting begins:


  • Thank the employer
  • Make note of any important information as soon as you leave
  • Alert your references that they may be called
  • Follow up with a thank you email in two to five business days
  • Be courteous and professional when notified of interview results


  • Call before the allotted decision period is through
  • Express desperation or frustration if you do not get the job

If you receive a telephone call/letter of regret explaining that you were not the successful candidate for the position, politely ask the company representative (HR/ Hiring Manager) for some feedback based on the interview/hiring process so that you can learn from the experience. This feedback can be very helpful for your next interview.

Sometimes the feedback will only be that the other candidate had slightly more experience and there is nothing you could have done differently. Thank the company representative for the feedback no matter what it looks like.

Want to Know More? Read these articles about interviewing:

Find your Match!

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