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Essential Job Interview Tips

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Essential job interview tips

Summary: Here are some essential interview tips that will put you ahead of the competition and help you land the job you’re looking for.

For most fields, you will not get a job without an interview. Therefore, effective interviewing skills are a must! Others will be competing with you to obtain the same position. Thus, it is critical not only to convince an employer that you can do the job, but that you can do the job better than the other candidates that are also competing for the same position.

The following will explain the steps you can take before, during & after an interview that will help place you ahead of the competition and ease your tension about interviewing.

  • Before the Interview

The time that you spend preparing prior to the interview will be time well spent in your job search process. The following are some tips on what you can do to prepare yourself for an interview.

  1. Understand what employers look for

Interview Preparation/Knowledge of Employer:

  • Are you knowledgeable about the employer and the industry?

Self-Confidence/Verbal Communication Skills:

  • Do you have the ability to listen effectively, verbalize your thoughts clearly and express yourself confidently?


  • Do you demonstrate an interest in the employer and a desire to work hard and succeed?
  • Do you have the ability to identify and work toward specific goals?


  • Can you relate your academic program, skills and/or prior work or internship experience to the needs of an employer?

General Personality:

  • Do you exhibit these traits: Poise? Enthusiasm? Ambition?

Work Ethic:

  • Are you someone who is willing to accept responsibility and keep commitments?
  1. Research the employer

It is important that you research an employer so you can relate your abilities to the needs of the employer. Also, by having “done your homework”, it will show an employer that you are interested in the employer and the position.

  1. Be prepared to answer and ask questions

Review the lists of questions in this Career Guide.

  1. Dress Appropriately

The way you dress has an effect on the interviewer’s initial impression of you. Follow the guidelines below for dressing for an interview.


  • Suit or tailored dress in solid or subtle color, no extreme slits.
  • Polished and closed toe shoes, basic dark pumps with medium or low heels.
  • Nails subtle if polished, clean and not chipped.
  • Make-up should be minimal.
  • Clutch or small shoulder bag, choose between an attaché case or handbag (not both).
  • Simple and basic jewelry.
  • Always wear hosiery and keep color neutral.
  • Light cologne, if any.


  • Navy, charcoal gray or pin stripe suit.
  • Shined shoes. Tassel loafers, wing tip or lace shoes preferred.
  • Clean nails.
  • Conservative red or navy striped solid tie, simple and neat.
  • Solid white shirt.
  • Avoid flashy cuff links, rings or neck chains.
  • Over the calf dark socks.
  • No strong fragrant cologne.


  • No smoking or chewing gum.
  • One ring per hand with exception of the wedding set.
  • Quality pen.

Have your documents handy

You may wish to carry a briefcase or a professional looking notebook with your questions written in advance. It is a good idea to include additional copies of your resume and letters of reference.

Arrive at least 10-15 minutes early

Remember, you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression. Thus, it is critical that you arrive on time to an interview. Arriving late to an interview not only wastes the interviewer’s time, but also sends the message that you are not serious about your job search or about keeping commitments.

During the Interview

During the interview it is your job to convince the interviewer that you are the most qualified applicant for the position. Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression! The following are some tips on what you should do and not do during an interview.


  • Don’t address the interviewer by his/her first name unless invited to do so.
  • Don’t let the employer’s casual approach fool you—maintain a professional image.
  • Don’t dominate the interview or appear arrogant.
  • Don’t criticize yourself or discuss your personal problems.
  • Don’t speak or act in a nervous manner.
  • Don’t ask questions that the interviewer has already answered.
  • Don’t interrupt when the interviewer is talking.
  • Don’t bring up negative information about past jobs, co-workers or former employers, professors, etc.


  • Give the interviewer a firm handshake.
  • Be enthusiastic, confident, courteous & honest.
  • Be aware of your non-verbal behavior.
  • Convey interest and knowledge in the position and company.
  • Stress willingness, ability and compatibility.
  • Avoid the use of non sentences such as umm, uh, ya know, well, and yeah.
  • Always present the best of your background or qualifications.
  • Listen to the questions carefully and give clear, concise and thoughtful answers.
  • At the close of the interview, establish a date for your next communication.
  • Always remember to thank the interviewer for his/her time.

After the Interview

It is a good policy to send the interviewer a thank-you letter as soon as possible after the interview. Be sure to reiterate your interest in the position and the organization. If you get no response from a thank-you letter, or if a date has passed when an employer was to contact you, don’t hesitate to phone the organization. Above all, let them know of your continuing interest in them!

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Authored by: Granted Contributor