Interviewing 101 - Nailing your Interview

If you’re like most people, you probably think interviewing for a new job is a painful process - something to be dreaded. However, a little preparation can change that attitude and turn you into a great interview candidate.

Here’s how we recommend you prepare for and perform during your interview.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

Finding company information is easy, and it’s one of the most important steps to take prior to any interview. Learn as much as possible about the company, the business model, how and when it was started, where its locations are, who its competitors are, and most importantly, why they need you on board.

Practice, practice, practice!

Practice your interview before attending. Enlist a friend or family member to act as the interviewer and practice answering questions and responding.

Research practice questions online:

  • Focus your search on interview questions related to the position for which you are interviewing.
    • Base your search on the description used in the job advertisement or description.
  • Use the sample questions to begin planning how you will answer these types of questions.
  • When preparing answers, incorporate examples of your previous experience and ways you have been successful working in similar roles or situations.
    • It’s no secret that hiring managers are much more likely to hire candidates with previous, similar experience, but it’s up to you to effectively communicate examples of your related experience.

Bring the Essentials

It’s straight out of “Interviewing 101” to always bring:

  • A few, crisp, neat copies of your resume
  • A note pad in a nice-looking portfolio

PRO TIP: Organize your portfolio so if the interviewer asks for a copy of your resume, you don’t have to leaf through pages looking for it.

Dress Professionally

If you expect to see a successful outcome from your interview, look the part. Make sure your apparel is clean and neat. Dressing professionally sends the message you want the job, so shine your shoes and make sure your hair is well groomed.

A few tips:

  • If you’re wearing a suit, hang the suit coat up in the car to prevent wrinkling, so you’ll look neat and professional when you arrive at the interview location.
  • Be careful what you drink or eat before arriving, and avoid spills. We recommend drinking only water.
  • If your interview outfit needs cleaning, take it to the cleaners as soon as the interview is scheduled — not the day before the interview.

Arrive on Time

There is almost never a good excuse for being late to an interview – if you want the job, prepare for the unexpected and be there ahead of time.

You can arrive to the interview as early as you want, but wait in the parking lot until about 10 minutes before the interview time. Arriving too early for an interview can be awkward. If you’re waiting in the parking lot or for a few minutes in the lobby, use the time to go over your notes and the job description.

Properly Introduce Yourself

When you meet the interviewer, smile and introduce yourself in a courteous manner: “Hello, I’m (first and last name.” After introducing yourself, thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet. 

Your introduction is extremely important; extensive research shows the first impression is one of the most important parts of the interview. Learn how to make a great first impression and present yourself professionally.

Shake Hands Comfortably

It may not seem especially important but research has repeatedly shown that the handshake plays a key role in the way hiring managers feel about candidates.

A handshake sounds like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t know the proper way to shake hands.

  • Be the first to initiate the handshake – extend your right hand while greeting the interviewer.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Set your hand at a slight downward angle, as you reach, enabling an easy and confident handshake. Shake hands slowly, in an up and down motion.
  • The handshake should last 2 or 3 seconds.

Take Notes

Don’t count on remembering everything you need to take away from the interview — write it down!

Listen More – Talk Less

When interviewing with a hiring manager, talk less than half the time and primarily during the second half of the conversation. Try to postpone lengthy answers until the interviewer has discussed the company’s priorities.


  • Never talk for more than a minute without pausing. This allows the interviewer to redirect the conversation if needed.
  • Try to end your answers with a reference back to the manager or with a question.
  • Acknowledge the manager’s needs by asking targeted questions and follow-ups.
  • Act like an employee by discussing work and not your personal aspirations.

Body Language is Important

Body language can be a very important aspect of your interview because it provides non-verbal feedback. It enables you to send positive messages without speaking. Movements such as leaning slightly forward towards the speaker or nodding your head yes with a pleasant expression on your face communicates to the speaker that you are interested and would like to hear more.

Hiring managers are much more likely to hire you if you smile during the interview. When appropriate, smile!

Come Prepared with Questions

To demonstrate your interest, it is always best to have a few questions prepared to ask the interviewer at the end of the interview.

Here are a few examples:

  • Is this a new position?
  • What's the biggest change your team has gone through in the last year?
  • What type of people are successful here? What type of people are not?
  • What's the timeline for making a decision on this position? When should I get back in touch with you?

Thank Your Interviewer

Thank each person involved in the interview process for the time they took to speak with you. Let the hiring manager know you are very interested in the position (if this is the case) and that you would appreciate further consideration for the job. Be sure to pick up a business card from those involved in the interview so you can follow up with a thank you note or email. 

For even more tips about interviewing, visit our Job Seeker Resources page or contact a recruiter. 
Posted by Scott Strickland at 10:11 AM
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