Job Interview Tips - Do's and Don'ts


Do you know the basics when it comes to what you should and shouldn't do in an interview?

Cell phones and other electronic devices. Don’t leave your cell phone on, even on vibrate. The constant NNNN, NNNN, NNNN is just as annoying as a ring. You should turn it off before you walk into the company’s building so you don’t forget. If you have a watch with an alert, turn off the alert or leave the watch in the car.

Be careful with your humor. Humor is good even during an interview; just don’t cross over a line that you don’t want to cross. It is wise to be conservative with your humor until you know the other person better.

Know yourself. Only have items on your resume (especially technical skills) that you are familiar with enough to hold a conversation about them. Know your accomplishments and know why the company should hire you for the job. Prepare answers ahead of time to all of the tough questions you may be asked.

Practice your handshake. Men and women should have the same handshake. If you aren’t used to shaking hands, you should practice and get feedback from a trusted person. If you tend to have sweaty hands, consider running cool water over your wrists before going into the interview. Another approach is to slyly wipe your right hand on the side of your outfit as you raise your hand. If you have a cold, you can excuse yourself from shaking the other person’s hand by apologizing and saying you are getting over a cold and don’t want to give it to him. It will be appreciated.

Body Language. 85% of all communication is non-verbal. Body language is the most spontaneous and honest form of communication. People trust your body language over the words you speak. Learn to read body language and control your own.

Pay close attention to grooming. From head to toe, be sure you’re giving your best impression. Some jobs are lost before the job seeker has uttered the first word. A practice interview is a great place to get honest feedback about the image you are projecting.

Be sure your attire, eyeglasses and accessories (ties, jewelry) don’t date you. Out-of-date attire and accessories will give the impression that you also let your skills age as well.

If you don’t have the right clothes for an interview and truly can’t afford them, there are organizations that will provide an outfit at a greatly reduced price or even for free. Don’t let an outfit stand in the way of your success.

Phone interview tips. If you’re on a phone interview, be sure to be in a quiet area without background noise. Stand up while you talk so your diaphragm can expand to breathe. Stand in front of a mirror to echo your body language and to remind you to smile.

If you receive an unexpected call for a phone screening, take the phone call regardless of what you’re doing, express your interest in talking with them and propose a time to talk. No company expects you to put your life on hold while waiting for a call and you’ll not blow your chance at the job if you propose another time. Use the time to get your materials organized before talking; review the description of the position, the research you did on the company, take one more opportunity to review your accomplishments and get to a quiet area.

Lunch interviews. Your main purpose at a lunch interview is not eating. Know what not to order during a lunch interview. Use the rule of thumb that you should only order food that is easy to get on your fork, to your mouth and chew quickly. There are many books available on common table manners.

Don’t talk too much or too little. Many job seekers blow the interview by talking too much. This is usually not intentional; it’s done out of nervousness but has the same results regardless. Practicing will give you a feel for where the fine line is between answering the question and giving a “brain dump.” Look for queues that the interviewer is ready to move on such as looking at the time, flipping papers or looking down.

You don’t want to go too far the other way either. If you speak too little the interviewer may think you are hiding something.

Don’t ask about salary or benefits. There is a common belief that the first person to talk about salary is at a disadvantage. If you’re asked what salary you were earning or want, defer the salary discussion for the later.

Don’t lie on your resume or application. Assume that everything will be verified even if no company has before.

Don’t talk negatively about a former company, boss or coworker. When you have a bad experience at a company, it is tempting to talk negatively about it. Save that venting for a close friend. Talking negatively during an interview reflects negatively on you. Before you have an interview, take the time to develop the right words to explain your experiences. Be sure to include what you have learned from that experience and have put into place to not repeat it.


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