job interview tips - interview tips attire, body ... email is perfectly acceptable these days,...

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  • Job Interview Tips

    Attire, body language and manners count during interviews. After all, interviewersare regular people like the rest of us, easily impressed by good behavior and justas easily offended by inappropriate behavior.Yet, surveys show that job candidates' interview manners and otherprofessionalisms are on the decline. For example,

    According to, nearly 80 percent of employers surveyedindicated that interviewees' manners had declined. Some candidatessurveyed thought that certain inappropriate behaviors were okay, likeremoving one's shoes or bringing a pet.

    Among other bizarre behaviors, FacilitatorGuy reported that a candidateate a hamburger and french fries in the interviewer's office, and evenwiped up ketchup with her sleeve. Another interrupted the interview tophone his shrink for advice on how to answer specific questions.

    Job Searching Guide Alison Doyle said that one of her intervieweesunbuttoned his shirt and started to drop his drawers to show her the scarfrom a boat propeller, as proof that an unemployed period wasn't his fault!Needless to say, Alison stopped him from mooning her and didn't offer himthe accounting job. She also didn't offer it to "the young lady in a bright redskirt so short and tight, that she could hardly sit down!"

    Below are tips for acting professionally before, during and after interviews, toavoid offending interviewers and increase your chances of landing a job. Theseinterview tips are based on good manners in the United States. Good mannersare appreciated everywhere, but what constitutes them may differ among othercountries.You might think that some of the interview tips are no-brainers. If so, that's good.It means that you are already on your way to completing successful interviews.But, as you've read above, weird stuff really does happen! Consequently, theseinterview tips try to cover it all.How to Act Before Interviews

    Do your homework: Research the company and study the job descriptionbefore you interview, as your interviewer will likely ask what you knowabout the company and why you want the job. It also helps you toformulate questions about the company and job. Interviewers typicallyexpect you to have such questions.

    With a friend, relative or by yourself, practice answering the other commonquestions interviewers ask.

    Prepare to negotiate salary by having a range in mind and studying thetechniques. The Web has lots of salary surveys and negotiation resourcesyou can research.

  • Collect and neatly arrange your important papers and work samples in anice briefcase or portfolio. This makes you look organized andprofessional. Remember to pack relevant documents such as extraresumes and reference lists, and immigrant work-authorization papers.Bring at least one pen and pencil, and a notepad too.

    Practice good hygiene, comb or brush your hair, and dress appropriately.Even if you know that the company dress is business-casual, dress upanyway. It shows professionalism and respect.

    Dress conservatively and avoid bright, flashy colors. Navy blue or gray isusually best. If you're a male, wear a business suit and tie or at least ablazer with pressed dress shirt and slacks, and polished dress shoes. Geta professional haircut or trim. If you're a female, wear a business suit or atleast a dress blouse and long dress skirt or pants, with polished, low- tomedium-heeled dress shoes. Style your hair tastefully or have it doneprofessionally. Both men and women should keep jewelry to a minimum,and especially avoid jewelry that distractively jingles or swings when youmove.

    Avoid wearing strong perfume or cologne. Fragrance is a matter ofpersonal preference and your interviewer might not like your choice. It'sbest to have no odor at all. A few minutes before the interview, a littlebreath spray might not hurt, but don't use it during the interview.

    Unless otherwise instructed (e.g., to fill out a job application), arrive five toten minutes early for the interview. This shows that you are eager andpunctual. If you're not at least five minutes early for an interview, you'refive minutes late! But don't arrive more than ten minutes early, as it mightbe inconvenient for your interviewers. Definitely don't be late.

    Don't bring uninvited guests like pets, children or significant others. Turn off your cell phone, pager, PDA alarms and other devices that might

    interrupt your interview.How to Act During Interviews

    Smile, immediately offer a firm handshake, introduce yourself, and saysomething like, "I'm pleased to meet you." or "I've been looking forward totalking with you." Be sincere and avoid informal greetings you might use tosay hello to your friends. Take the polite, conservative route.

    Read the mood. If the interviewer is formal, then you probably should be,too. If the interviewer is casual, then follow along while remainingcourteous and professional. In either case, try to appear to be relaxed, butnot too relaxed. It's not a good idea to put your feet up on the interviewer'sdesk!

    Wait to be told to take a seat or ask if you may, then say thank you. Thisshows good manners.

  • If it's possible without making a commotion, scoot your chair a little closerto the interviewer's desk or take the chair closet to the desk, like you'reready to dive right in. This shows interest and confidence. But don't invadethe interviewer's personal space, a perimeter of about two feet by U.S.standards.

    Sit with good posture. If you don't know what to do with your hands, keepthem folded in your lap. This is another indication of good manners. Avoidcrossing your arms over your chest, as it subliminally demonstrates aclosed mind to some.

    Even formally-trained interviewers are regular people like you, so they'llexpect you to be a little nervous while sitting in the "hot seat." Still, try toavoid obvious signs like fidgeting.

    Maintain eye contact with the interviewer. Avoid staring or you might makethe interviewer uncomfortable, but don't look away too often either. Tosome, failure to maintain a comfortable level of eye contact indicates thatyou are lying, reaching for answers or lacking confidence.

    Don't eat, drink, chew gum or smoke, or even ask if it's okay. But if theinterviewer offers coffee or other beverages, it's okay to accept. It'sprobably better to say no thanks to snacks (unless you're at an interviewmeal), so you don't accidentally drop crumbs in your lap, be forced to talkwith your mouth full, and all that other stuff your mom told you not to dowith your food.

    Speaking of which, if you are attending an interview meal, do follow all thegood eating manners your parents taught you. For example, put yournapkin in your lap, don't order anything complicated and messy to eat likeribs or crab legs, avoid bad-breath foods like garlic and onions, chew withyour mouth closed, keep your elbows off the table, and order onlymoderately-priced items from the menu. Don't order booze, even if yourinterviewer does. Let your interviewer pick up the tab and be sure to thankhim or her for the meal.

    It's okay to ask questions to better answer the questions the interviewerasks you. But withhold the bulk of your questions until the interviewer asksif you have any, which is typically toward the end of the interview. Avoidasking the frivolous just because interviewers expect you to havequestions. Instead, ask about important matters, such as job duties,management style and the financial health of the company. It's not a goodidea to ask questions about vacation, sick days, lunch breaks and so on,right off the bat. Ask about the lesser matters of importance during follow-up interviews.

    Typically, you'll negotiate salary, benefits, perks and such in a follow-upinterview. Regardless, don't bring it up until asked, yet be ready to discussit at anytime.

    How to Act After Interviews

  • Immediately send a thank-you letter to each of your interviewers. (To gettheir contact info, ask for business cards during interviews.) Sendingthank-you letters is professional and courteous, and will help to make youstand out in the minds of your interviewers. Besides, many interviewersexpect it, and it's a good idea to do what interviewers expect. Email isperfectly acceptable these days, and the quickest way to get your thank-you letters in front of interviewers. But avoid informal stuff like emoticons(e.g., happy faces), shorthand (e.g., u for you) and acronyms (e.g., TIA forthanks in advance). Whether you send thank-you letters by fax, email orpostal mail, observe professional business-letter standards.

    Be prepared to attend two or three interviews at the same company. Ifyou're called back for another interview, it means that they're interested inyou. But they're also narrowing the competition, so keep up the goodwork!

    Be patient. It's not unusual for interviewers to take weeks to narrow thecompetition. But if you don't hear from them in about a week or 24 hoursor so after they said you'd hear from them, it's okay to send follow-upletters. (Don't call without permission. Interviewers might consider it rudeof applicants to interrupt their workday with unsolicited calls.) One follow-up letter per interviewer is sufficient. Don't pester, as the squeaky wheeldoesn't always get the oil in this case. If they're interested, they'll contactyou without prodding. But it doesn't hurt to make sure your candidacydidn't fall through the corporate cracks. It also shows that you really wantthe job and are eager to start.

    Good luck on your next interview!