Acing an Interview

By: Peter Panacy, Staffing Coordinator

So you submitted a resume to the company at which you applied, and you finally received a phone call or email asking if you’d be available to come in for an interview. Congratulations! You’re doing something right! A company is considering hiring you and wants to move forward in the process!

But then you get a little nervous. “What if I totally embarrass myself or bomb the interview?” Don’t stress it. And here are some tips to make sure you make the best impression possible.

This is something you can work on long before your interview. You need to be likable in order to land a job. Work on your eye contact, smiling, engagement skills and hone your body posture. You’ll want to come across as confident but not cocky. Most importantly, be yourself. The interviewer will be trying to get to know you!

TIP: Consider taking a public speaking course at a local college. The same skills taught in this type of class can translate right over into an interview.

TIP: Practice your interview skills with some commonly asked interview questions (look some up online). Do so in front of a mirror, friends/family or on camera. Learn from your mistakes, and try to build upon a solid impression.

You want to know everything possible about the company and position to which you are applying. Nothing says a lack of preparation more than going into an interview unprepared. Look at the company’s website. Learn what the company does, what its mission statement is and where the company is heading. Check other resources as well. And you’ll want to know every specific aspect about the position to which you are applying.

TIP: Figure out how you are a best fit for the position based on what the company is seeking. You’ll likely be asked a question as to why you want to work for Company X.

First impressions are critical, and nothing says you aren’t taking the interview seriously more than showing up not dressed for the part. Blue-collar jobs typically don’t require Class A dress, but you’ll want to come across in a presentable manner. Clerical, office-based or highly competitive jobs almost always require professional attire. And make sure your attire is clean, pressed and looking sharp before the interview.

TIP: You can rarely overdress for an interview, but you certainly can be underdressed. When in doubt, always edge on the side of conservative business-professional attire.

TIP: Don’t forget your personal grooming. You’ll want to make a solid first impression, which demonstrates how you really want this job.

Always show up for your interview at least 10 to 15 minutes early. Walking in the door right at your interview time isn’t a good idea. And being late will almost guarantee you won’t get the job. You also shouldn’t show up any earlier than 15 minutes. Doing so shows you don’t value the employer’s time. If you arrive early, wait outside in your car until the appropriate time.

TIP: Map out the location of the interview prior to departing. Account for traffic. And it’s never a bad idea to head out to the location the day before so you know where it is.

Make sure you look the interviewer(s) directly in the eye when you greet him/her/them. Give a firm, confident handshake and try to remember names.

TIP: Wash and dry your hands before going into the interview to avoid having clammy, sweaty palms. It happens. And don’t be afraid to take some water if offered during the interview. It can help with the all-too frequent “interview dry-mouth.”

You may have practiced some interview questions, but chances are you’ll be asked questions for which you aren’t totally prepared. Be honest with your answers. Think clearly about what it is you want to say, and stick to your answers. You’ll want to be clear and concise with what you say. Never lie during an interview, and never speak badly about a previous employer or boss even if your experience was terrible.

TIP: Remember, an interview is a sales pitch for you. Each answer should incorporate a response describing why you would be a great fit for the position or how your skills match those for which the employer is looking

TIP: Back up your answers with relevant examples. If you’re asked, “What is your biggest strength,” be sure to state what it is and how you demonstrated it during previous employment. You may be asked negatively based questions like, “What is your biggest weakness?” Don’t answer with “I don’t have any,” or “I tend to work too hard.” Those are too cliché. Most importantly, spin your weakness into a positive by saying how you’re improving yourself in this area in some fashion or another.

Most interviews end with the interviewer(s) asking if you have any questions or anything else to say. You should always answer with “yes.” This is your moment to ask questions demonstrating your interest and seriousness (see some examples below). Don’t ask inappropriate questions like “When do I start,” or “How much will I be paid.” Instead, frame your questions towards your own interest. And, lastly, be sure to thank your interviewers for the opportunity with a firm handshake and a statement like, “It was a pleasure meeting with you, [Name].” You remembered the interviewer’s name, right?

Good Questions to Ask: Remember, you are selling yourself during the interview. And such questions can showcase just how interested you truly are.

What will you expect me to accomplish in the first 60 to 90 days?

What are some common attributes of your best employees?”

“How does your company strive to meet its mission statement in the course of day-to-day operations?”

“Are there any elements in my skill set or experience upon which I could improve to make me the strongest candidate for this position?”

Consider contacting the company a day or so after the interview and see how the process is going. And be sure to pass along your thanks to those who interviewed you. It shows continued dedication and interest.


      • Practice Your People Skills
      • Do Your Research
      • Dress for the Position You Want
      • Don’t Be Late
      • Greet the Interviewer Properly
      • Answer Questions Thoughtfully and Honestly
      • Ask Questions & Thank Your Interviewers
      • Follow Up After the Interview

Inspiration for your interview:

One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation
Arthur Ashe
Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time
Thomas Edison
Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.
Connie Stevens
Success seems to be connected to action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they never quit
J.W. Marriot
Desire! That’s the one secret of every person’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire
Bobby Unser