Have a Good Job Interview

If you want better results on your job interviews, prepare to rock. Show the employer why you're an ideal candidate for the job, and land it quickly. Ready to get your new position--then, follow these steps for your best interview.


Being Prepared

  1. Start preparing as early as possible: Larger corporations will generally contact you to schedule an interview weeks or about a month before the interview will occur. You should spend this whole time prepping so that you're comfortable and knowledgeable going into the interview. Be ready to ask the right kind of questions--and also, to respond well to any questions that will come your way.
    • Do your research. Research the company and specifically the job description and how it fits in the particular business unit or department. Get as much background information as you can to show your abilities for doing the job responsibilities and duties--so that you won't get caught speechless, if you're asked to talk about how you work and handle fellow employees, any client contacts, and disciplinary issues (and even more so, if you will be a supervisor, manager or teacher, etc).
    • Also use internet search engines to research corporate officers who you know or think will be interviewing you. If you're having trouble finding people and information, try Linkedin. Use it as your career networking site for helping you build professional connections.
  2. Get help from others. Don't prepare for a job interview by yourself. There are some valuable resources that can help you along your way to ask for help:
    • Seek out experts. Find yourself a mentor and/or an alumni from your university currently working in your desired career. Talk to them and get an inside scoop. Ask for advice. Career Business Discussion Boards is a good website you can use to connect with such people.
    • Find a friend who is also preparing for a job interview. Interview each other so that you get comfortable with the verbal and social aspects of the interview. You can also tell each other your anecdotal stories/examples of your strengths, etc. that you're considering for the interview. Ask him or her what each story portrays about you, and use the feedback to choose the ones that best represent the parts of yourself that you want to illustrate and "sell" nicely to the interviewer.
  3. Write down and practice at least three questions to ask the interviewer, showing how much you care about this kind to work. These should not be things that can be easily discovered through simple research (learn long before the hiring interview about the expected pay range and company benefits such as profit sharing plan, etc., as this interview is not the time for that). Think about what you want to know about the specific company, and what your responsibilities and opportunities will be there. Remember that an interview goes both ways, and that you have to show that you're very interested in this company; say very rapidly, "I love this opportunity". Then, you want them to know that you really care--so ask your great questions. Your three or four serious questions might include the following points:
    • Asking about "room for growth" within the company shows commitment. Sure, you're applying for a specific position, but you can show that you plan to stick around for the long haul.
    • Asking nicely about "who I'll be working with most closely" can show social skills and good attitudes. "I am very interested in the people I'll be most often interacting with in the company." This can help you show that you're a good fit the job. It may turn out you would be spending a lot of your time working with one of the interviewers or a company officer that you may be able to meet on that day, and you can show them how they will like you, and you them. Be courteous and show that you are nice and happy to meet them.
      • Say, "This is great." I'm impressed." "I really like this company/love this department", etc.--if you get to meet some people in the offices, sales and shop, etc. Show gratitude and happiness at this opportunity--not embarrassment or shyness. Make acquaintances/friends (confidently), but don't overdo it, not mushy or sappy!
    • Asking for more information about one or two of the toughest (most important) tasks that are part of the job description will show that you've closely read the job description. Now you are revealing what your daily life and contributions at the company will look like.
  4. Write answers to the basic questions that you expect to be asked. Though an interview always has the potential to surprise you, there are a series of basic questions that you'll tend to see in an interview, so it's best to be prepared to answer them thoroughly and honestly before you walk into the interview. Don't look like you're caught off guard or like you haven't spent any time actually thinking about the job responsibilities. Compose good answers to key questions that you will probably be asked:
    • What are your strengths? (For example: a teacher or supervisor/management applicant needs to have a philosophy of progressive discipline and having only a few Rules, but plan to teach as "procedures" as needed/when needed.) Can you give us a concrete example to illustrate them?
    • What are your weaknesses? (Neither give many bad faults nor say "I have none or one.", as if you've never made a mistake. Because this will make you look like you're dishonest and full of yourself.)
    • Why do you want to do this work/for this company? Why do you think you'd be a good fit?
    • What are your long term career goals (such as training and certifications you want)?
    • What was the biggest professional challenge you've ever solved/faced? How did you tackle it?
    • Are you good at working in teams and sharing your better ideas? Can you provide an example of your strong team work?
    • Why are you choosing to leave your present company? (If you're currently employed elsewhere, be honest about wanting to leave without being overly negative or talking bad about your employer. You should be respectful of management at all times.)
  5. Make sure you are Dress-for-Work. Your wardrobe is a sign of your professionalism and is sometimes used to gauge your level of experience and competence. When your coworkers and customers look at you, they should immediately feel comfortable working with you. So, dress as casually or formally as is appropriate, in a professional style for this line of work, a dark suit and conservative necktie for a man--jacket and modest skirt for a woman--is good, even if you will work in a uniform or blue jeans. You can show them that you do look good when you should.
    • Show up a little early with have everything you need (30 minutes is good) to not be late, dashing about, rumpled and possibly breathless and upset. Carry a nice portfolio/expanding folder, containing loose leaf paper and extra copies of your resume. Make sure to also bring a couple of pens and pencils so that you can jot down notes. Be prepared with a pen and paper, if you're asked for one.
  6. Leave your calculator and gum at home. If you absolutely need to bring your cell phone, make sure it's completely powered off before you go into the interview.
    • Do not bring anyone with you to the interview, unless they drop you off and wait at a coffee-shop nearby.
    • Do not roll into the interview with your cup of Starbucks. This shows that you're taking a much-too casual approach or that you're too inexperienced.

Being Professional

  1. Remain respectful, professional and confident, smiling a little (not with a pasted on grin) and be as calm, yet enthusiastic as possible. Don't act nervous, tapping fingers, wagging your legs or wringing your hands (crossing ankles or arms is considered defensive/in a standoff), nor sitting stiffly as a statue, but also not flopping around like you're lazy (silly or too relaxed). If you're asked to answer a case (what if...) question, talk through the process you would use, in such a case. Don't be afraid to ask whether your ideas sound thorough enough—you'll be evaluated on your ability to structure your thinking and to share your thoughts well, not on the number of questions you ask. In fact, talking through your process is a great way to engage the interviewer and turn the interview into more of a give and take discussion. This can give you valuable clues and a guide on what they want to know (so you can show how you can fulfill their needs).
    • If you need something clarified, don't be afraid to ask. You'll do better, if you know exactly what is being asked of you. Don't ask a question every few seconds, or you'll sound confused (you want to show that you have good motivation toward what's good, reasonable and logical).
  2. Sell yourself. What are your unique selling points and how can you match your highlights to what they want? Make sure you use plenty of examples as proof of your abilities. Show the interviewer that you can find the positives in your past experiences—this is not a time to complain (and shoot yourself in the foot) about what you hated in your previous work situation(s). Focus on how this really is good/much more suitable to you.
    • Remember those examples of your strengths that you wrote down earlier? This is exactly when they'll come in handy.
    • There's a difference between being confident and bragging. Make sure you show what a capable, intelligent employee you are without singing your own praises.
  3. Be inquisitive. Don't forget to ask your questions. Pay attention as the interviewer answers—you may even want to jot down notes. This is both to prove that you are listening and also to give yourself a way to reflect on the interview later, if you end up having to decide between multiple positions.
    • Don't ask the same questions at every interview. Ask questions that are tailored to the company to show that you've really done your research.
  4. Be polite. Listen to each question fully before you begin to respond. Never assume that your interviewer has read your CV, but don't treat him or her as though he or she hasn't, either. After the interview, do not forget to send a follow up thank you-email. These are generally better than hand written thank you notes, as they are quicker than snail mail. However, you should be sure that it is well proofread and addressed to the right person and identifying yourself and the matters involved, before you send them.
    • Part of being polite is remembering to thank the interviewer for meeting with you after the interview. Show him that you really appreciate the time and effort he spent on speaking with you.
  5. Be persistent. Keep interviewing. The more you interview, the better you will become at it. Don't get discouraged. It's unlikely that your first interview will lead to you landing your dream job, but that doesn't mean you should lower your standards after the third interview. Keep aiming for what is realistic for your goals and background, and you will eventually find what you're looking for.

Being Savvy During Phone or Skype Interviews

  1. Be savvy during phone interviews. If it is a phone interview, it's usually with a PR person who knows very little about the position and technical terms related to a specific job. Make sure to use keywords and buzzwords while answering questions because you are trying to paint a picture with words, since the interviewer has no visual clues of you. Do this and you will pass the phone interview.
    • Treat the phone interview like a real professional interview. Go to a quiet place, don't get distracted or do anything else but speak, and talk slowly and clearly.
    • Keep your notes in front of you, but still be prepared to talk on the fly. Having your notes can make you feel more confident about what to say, but don't lean on them.
    • Dress for business. Dressing in a professional manner will make you feel more prepared, than if you do your phone interview in pajamas or shorts.
  2. Be savvy during Skype Interviews. The Skype interview is becoming more popular than ever, and has been a great way for employers to weed out employees that may not be a good fit during the first or second round of interviews. So, find a place with good lighting and a simple professional background, dress up and groom properly, and test your camera and microphone beforehand to make sure you're ready for the interview.
    • Treat the interview just as you would a face to face interview. Don't think it's less serious or professional just because you're meeting over the computer.

Additional Help

Doc:Followup Interview Questions,Job Interview Questions and Responses,Interview Strengths and Weaknesses,Interview Tips and Tricks


  • Many interviewers like to ask a question towards the end such as "What three adjectives best describe you?" Be prepared to answer such a question.
  • If asked about something you know nothing or very little about, it's better to say what you know and then be honest and say something like "This is not my strongest area...but I'm very willing to learn."
  • If your rejection comes in the form of a phone call, be polite and thank them for considering you. Who knows, the person they selected might not work out. If this happens, they might reconsider you.
  • Be early for the interview. Try to be 15 to 20 minutes early. Use any wait time to review your notes. Being late or just barely on time tends to cause stress and it can show during the interview.
  • After each interview, debrief yourself. Afterwards, try to see yourself from a "fly-on-the-wall" perspective. Be objective. Ask yourself what you did wrong, what you did right, what you could have done better, how you could have made a better impression, what questions were difficult to answer, etc. Quickly write these things down. Research and/or think about areas where your answers could have been better. Review these notes before your next interview. You will be surprised at how much better you perform in each successive interview.
  • Use your time during the interview wisely and efficiently. Be careful about going off on tangents and wasting valuable time. An hour-long interview can go by really fast. Try to be efficient in the words and thoughts that you express. Try to leave 10 to 15 minutes at the end for your questions and so you can diplomatically size them up as well. Bring a wrist watch to help you keep track of time.
  • Find a balance between stating your good qualities but not coming across as someone who is bragging about themselves.
  • Don't take rejection personally. Reason for not getting a job is typically a better qualified candidate was chosen. Stay in the game...Keep swinging...Each interview increases your chances of landing a new job.
  • Many State jobs, county jobs, federal government jobs and private sector jobs require drug testing. This can be accomplished by a urinalysis test or by cutting a small strand of your hair and sending it to a lab for analysis. The hair-strand approach can detect drug usage from months ago because of the internal molecular structure of your hair. If you are taking illegal drugs, be advised and consider ways to stop. If you are taking legal pharmaceutical prescriptions, write these down on the form that you sign so the lab will understand the situation. The form has a place for this information.
  • On each interview, bring a nicely typed up brief list of items that you want to make sure you bring up during the interview - A top-10 list you might say. Keep list in front of you. Try to work some of these points into your responses. For example, if you are certified in something that applies, make sure you mention this. If you are an excellent listener or communicator, make sure you mention this. Use these items where they fit...but don't overdo it. This is the list of things that you would otherwise say "I wish I had mentioned that...".
  • If you are asked a question that can consume a lot of time, efficiently state what is most important. Then say "I can go into a lot more detail on this, if you like." Many times the interviewers will say "No...that's OK...you did well on that." They have a business schedule to keep also and want to be careful that the interview time is not squandered.
  • Allow extra time for finding a parking place. It can sometimes be challenging to find a parking place at an unfamiliar site. Bring quarters or dollar bills to load up the parking meter/toll box, if parking charges will apply.
  • Check the weather forecast. Inclement weather can cause travel delays, so plan accordingly. If rain is predicted, take a retractable (fold down) umbrella. You don't want to arrive looking like a drowned rat.
  1. Show your positive personality and especially your best team-player qualities to have a big advantage over those who only show a technical side. Interviewers are sizing up your personal qualities and confidence, deciding what type of benefit you will bring to the work team, evaluating your desire and ability to learn, judging your character. It's not all about your level of technical knowledge.


  • One trick that interviewers like to use is a lapse in the conversation. A lot of people aren't comfortable with that silence and will do just about anything to fill it in. You may find yourself revealing or saying something that you will regret in retrospect.
  • Another trick an interviewer might use is to have the interview interrupted persistently. The interruptions may be accidental or planned, but if you lose your flow or become irritated, remain polite and smile.
  • Panel interviews, where several people interview you at once are common for positions of importance. Recognise the different roles that may be adopted by each member of the panel. It is quite common for at least one panel member to adopt a "bad cop" role - where their questions may seem abrupt, even rude. This is a deliberate tactic to see whether you react appropriately (not with fear or anger). Stay calm, don't let them rile you. If they interrupt you, stop answering and let them ask their next question. If you suspect it is a deliberate tactic, you can behave appropriately by not forcing your issue, and not interrupting them.

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