Before the Job Interview
Be prepared and dress for success.
- Make sure there's no confusion about where you're supposed to go for the interview. If possible, make a practice run to the place so you know how long it will take to get there. Also, find the exact entrance.
- Research the company. You should know exactly what they do and what you can offer before you go in.
- Be prepared to answer questions about yourself. Look up common interview questions and prepare answers for them.
- Make a list of questions to ask your interviewer. You can ask about the employer itself, the employer's customers or clients, the position, or the people you'll be working with.
- Practice your job interview with a friend, family member, or coach. Ask them to critique your answers afterwards.
- Record your practice interview sessions with a video camera so you can critique yourself later on. Pay special attention to your posture and body language.
- Determine your availability beforehand. The interviewer may ask when you can start the job.
- Determine your bottom line. Will you accept the job if the pay is low? What about benefits? The interviewer may ask how much you expect to make.
- Be prepared to be tested during or after the job interview. Some employers require job applicants to take a written test, write an essay, or do a drug screening.
- Wear something that fits you well, looks nice on you, and is appropriate for your specific job interview. In most cases, that means no shorts, mini-skirts, T-shirts, or flip-flops. A rule of thumb is to find out how people in your position dress, and then dress just a little more formal.
- Use the restroom before you go. There's no telling how long the interview may last. If possible, check in with the receptionist and then ask them to direct you to the restroom. You can also check your appearance before heading to the waiting area.
- Don't use perfume or cologne. Some people have sensitive noses, and some offices have no-fragrance policies. A shower and deodorant is sufficient.
- Don't wear fur, clunky jewelry, or loud accessories. In most cases, keep accessorizing to a minimum.
- Don't smoke in the car or on the employer's premises. Some people find the smell of cigarettes offensive.
- Make sure your breath is fresh. Dragon breath never makes a good impression. A breath mint on the way to the interview is a good idea.
- Spit gum or mints out before you go into the building. It's unprofessional, plus it's harder to talk and smile with something in your mouth.
- Walk in the door 10-15 minutes early.
During the Job Interview
Treat everyone politely and professionally.
- Greet each person with eye contact and a handshake. Be sure to treat everyone from the receptionist to the CEO courteously.
- It's important to have a steady, firm handshake, but make sure you don't squeeze too hard. Bone crushing is not a friendly greeting, and some people have conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome that make strong handshakes painful.
- Control your voice when you talk. Speak clearly, and make sure your volume is appropriate. Your interviewers need to be able to hear you, but the people in the next room don't.
- Don't use slang when you greet people. 'Hey, how ya doin'?' is usually not a proper greeting at an interview. 'Hello, how are you?' is better.
- Don't be a space invader. Try to give everyone you meet a few feet of personal space - nobody likes to have their boundaries violated.
- Be aware of your posture when sitting or standing. Try not to slouch or look too stiff. If you're sitting, don't lean back all the way. Sit toward the front of the chair so you appear more engaged. Also, try not to fidget. Keep you hands relaxed in your lap.
- Don't sit down anywhere until you are asked to. If you're not sure where to sit, ask.
- Don't overdo it on gestures. It's okay to make natural gestures while speaking, but too many or oversized gestures can distract attention from what you're saying.
- If you're given water or something else to drink, sip it - don't gulp or chug. Remember that you're at the interview to answer questions about yourself, not to enjoy a beverage - so try to minimize the time you spend with liquid in your mouth. Never attempt to speak before you've swallowed.
- Smile and nod your head occasionally when being spoken to so the speaker knows you're listening.
- Act interested and enthusiastic about the interview.
- Keep answers short and to the point, generally about 1-2 minutes per question.
- When you answer a question, try not to start out with filler words like 'uh' or 'um.' Using an excessive number of filler words can impact your credibility.
- Do your best to sound confident when you speak.
- Remember to maintain a moderate level of eye contact throughout the job interview - not too little, not too much.
- If you're being interviewed by multiple people, try to look at each of them as you speak (one at a time, of course). You don't want anybody to feel left out of the conversation.
- Ask questions. You're at an interview, not an interrogation. Asking questions helps to demonstrate your interest in and knowledge about the position. Employers will expect you to have at least one question about the position, the company, or the people you'll be working with.
- Don't look at the clock or your watch at any point during the interview. It makes you look like you'd rather be somewhere else.
- If you are left alone in a room, don't do anything you wouldn't do in front of a group of people. You might be on camera.
- This should go without saying, but we'll say it just in case: Don't flirt with anyone you meet on the day of your job interview. You have no idea who you're hitting on or how it might impact your chances of getting the job. Keep it professional.
After the Job Interview
Continue making a good impression after the interview has ended.
- When the job interview has ended, shake hands with everyone once again and thank them for their time.
- If you're still interested in the job at this point, now's the time to say it. Tell the employer you really want the position and what makes you a great candidate.
- If you're absolutely sure you are NOT interested in the job after the interview, politely say so and tell the employer why you don't think the position's a good match. Whatever your problem is with the position, the employer may be willing to resolve the issue, or there may be a different position that fits you better. If you're unsure about the job, it's usually best to say you're interested and then continue to think about it after the interview.
- Ask your interviewer what the next steps are and whether you can follow up at a later date.
- Send a thank you note to your interviewer(s) immediately after leaving the interview. This can be done via snail mail or email. In the thank you note, reiterate your interest in the position and remind the interviewer(s) why you are a great match.
- If possible, send a brief thank you note to the receptionist or anyone else who was helpful but not directly involved in your job interview.
- Go home and write down everything you can about the interview. Take special care to note what went well and what didn't. If you don't get the job, this information could prove very helpful later on.
- Don't be afraid to follow up with your interviewer or with HR. If the interviewer said you would hear something in a week and you don't, there's nothing wrong with initiating the contact yourself. Just remember to be polite and professional when you call.
If you are interested in getting more information that might help your job search, consider joining a professional organization.