5 Interview Tips HR Wishes All Job Applicants Knew

5 Interview Tips HR Wishes All Job Applicants Knew
Penquin's HR Director Annemie Burger and HR Coordinator Fundi Twala

Landing a job interview is always good news. Sealing the deal is even better. Although going into an interview can be stressful, there are some things you can do to give yourself the best possible shot at making a good impression.

With countless interviews and hires between them, Penquin‘s HR Director Annemie Burger and HR Coordinator Fundi Twala are the best candidates (excuse the pun) for advice on how to woo the company you’re meeting with. With years of experience working at the integrated marketing agency, the duo shares five tips they wish all candidates knew before stepping into a physical or virtual interview or a new role right here.

Tip #1: Tell Your Career Story with Confidence

There are a couple of standard things hiring managers tend to look for, namely your qualifications, level of experience and the general skills you bring to the table. These are usually checked on your CV before an interview is scheduled, so there’s no need to arrive and rattle off about the specifics unless specifically asked about something.

Instead, tell the story of your career so far, with confidence. This will take some practice, so spend time beforehand going over the key things you’d like to get across. If these relate to the needs of the position you’re interviewing for, even better.

The Penquin team gives (metaphorical) bonus points to candidates who acknowledge and understand the importance of company culture while telling their stories. Emphasising that you’re a team player is also a good way to signal that you are able to adapt to the culture if need be.

Tip #2: Prepare Well Beforehand
Showing up and winging a job interview is one of the easiest ways to guarantee a rejection email. HR teams have seen it all and can tell when a candidate arrives unprepared. Proper research about the company and the role is essential in order to engage fully.

Learn as much as you can in the days leading up to the conversation by working through the company website and social media channels. Think about what you’re going to wear too — a team photo on Instagram can signal how formal you need to be if you’re too shy to ask the HR manager.

Jot down a couple of questions to ask the interviewer(s) too. These can cover growth opportunities or how the company prioritises training and development. Having questions to ask at the end of the conversation instantly sets you apart from candidates who have simply covered the basics.

Tip #3: Know Your Worth
Thanks to the widespread adoption of remote work, the hiring landscape has changed a lot. The marketing industry, for instance, is currently big on creative, digital and media roles. In previous years, these roles would have been limited to local positions for locally based candidates only.

Companies are now more willing to hire employees from anywhere in the world, meaning increased competition to find the best talent. A job interview is ultimately a discussion to enter into a partnership, with commitment from both sides. Know your worth going into the interview, rather than clasping at the role even if you realise it isn’t a good fit after the discussion.

Tip #4: Showcase Your Creativity
A good CV is the gateway to landing a job interview in the first place. It should cover the essentials, like contact information, work experience and your education history. It should also be concise, with good grammar and no spelling mistakes. A short summary is highly useful to grab the attention of the HR team, and may well be the reason you end up getting the call to meet with them.

The Penquin HR team agrees that a bit of creative zing can also elevate the interview itself, especially in the context of marketing roles. Showcasing your creativity in the interview — be it through talking about completed projects, your interests or hobbies — will help with making the conversation flow. If you can create a link between your creative skills and the position you’re applying for, you’re on the money.

Tip #5: Always Be Yourself
There’s no point in putting on an act during a job interview. Even if you miraculously manage to land the job, you won’t be able to keep it up the facade later. A sense of authenticity will shine through, building trust between you and your potential colleagues right from the get-go. Speak honestly about why you think you’re the best fit for the job — it’s why you’re there to begin with after all.

Being yourself in an interview extends to opening up about how you strike a balance between working hard and having fun. A good sense of humour and a positive attitude can make all the difference too.


Embarking on the next chapter in your career is an exciting thing. Armed with these tips, you’re set to nail the interview and begin the adventure. Enjoy the ride!