Interview Tips

Interviewing for a job is an anxious event; making a good first impression is critically important.  In this article, we've a list of 21 interview tips that should reduce that nervousness, and help applicants land the job.

Preparing Emotionally

Our first tip has to do with preparing emotionally.  Being in the right mood increases the chance of being more relaxed during the job interview.  This state of mind allows your true self to shine through more clearly.  Do whatever it takes to prepare for the interview mentally.  Take a long walk to think through some ideas, meditate, or just think about a time when you felt really confident.

Know Your Value

We're not talking about monetary value; we're talking about the value you bring to the table for any company.  Make a list of your skills and knowledge that would make for a valued employee, and match these up to the employer's job requirements.

Sell Yourself

Interviewing is all about selling yourself; as a matter of fact, it's a great forum for any salesperson.  Keep in mind the services being sold to the company are your skills.  It's important to convince the interviewer that your services are better than the rest.

Being Nervous

This particular tip is easier said then done because everyone gets nervous during an interview; it's a natural reaction to the questioning that occurs during the meeting.  The worst thing that can happen is that you're not offered the job.  The important point to remember is to learn from the experience and not repeat mistakes.

Phone Screens

Screening candidates using telephone interviews is very common.  This conversation usually last from 10 to 30 minutes.  Make sure you're always prepared for a telephone interview.  Know ahead of time the answers to tough questions like:  Why did you leave your last job?

Arrive on Time

Make sure you arrive early for an interview.  Showing up late can throw off the entire tone of the meeting.  Ideally, arrive 30 minutes ahead of schedule.  This leaves enough time for unexpected traffic jams.  Go inside the building about 15 minutes before the scheduled start.  Arriving too early can actually put the interviewer in a bad mood by throwing off their schedule.

Eye Contact

Maintaining eye contact is important during a job interview.  If you have trouble looking straight into the interviewer's eyes, then pick a spot right above and between their eyes to look at.

Mirror the Interviewer

This expression is not meant to state someone should be an exact mirror in terms of posture and style.  We're talking about things like pace of conversation.  Listen and repeat back points that are not clear.  Ask questions that demonstrate you're listening to the information the interviewer is providing.

Stay Focused

One of the most common mistakes made during an interview is talking too much.  Listen to the question, and answer what's asked - nothing else.  Try to keep your response to two to three minutes.  If the interviewer's eyes start to glaze over or they begin to fidget, then it's time to finish up and move on.

Be Concise

It's important to be concise when answering interview questions.  When asked a question that seems to require a lot of detail, check back with the interview team after a couple of minutes.  Ask a question back such as:  "Now that you've heard about my role in solving this problem, would you like to understand more of the detail?"

Illegal Questions

When asked a question that appears to be illegal, it's much better to respond in a professional manner than directly confronting the hiring manager about breaking the law.  In other words, answer the question as if it was asked correctly.  If the interviewer asks about your age, simply talk about what's been learned throughout your working career.

An illegal interview question might also signal the possibility of a hostile work environment.  Companies should know what's appropriate to ask a candidate during an interview.  If they don't, then chances are they might be allowing other forms of inappropriate behavior in the workplace.

Why Did You Leave?

This next tip has to do with perhaps one of the most difficult questions asked during an interview:  Explaining why you left a company.  Keep the response short and to the point, unless asked to expand upon the explanation.  Talk briefly about your performance and what was learned about the experience.

Talking about Weaknesses

It is appropriate to talk about weaknesses if asked by the hiring manager.  In fact, this question can be used to demonstrate what you know, and the willingness to learn.  For example, "I know that I need to work on my team building skills.  I've worked in a lot of team settings, but I've never had the opportunity to act as team lead before."

Be a Quick Learner

When asked a question about a skill that you don't already have, make sure to put a positive spin on the answer.  Give the interviewer an example of a situation you were put in that required an important skill, and describe what was learned and how that led to success.


Think of an interview as a meeting where you and the hiring manager are learning about each other.  By simply responding to each question with an answer, the interview turns into more of an interrogation.  Make sure to ask clarifying questions when uncertain if you've answered the question accurately.

Power Questions

The interviewer will often ask a candidate if they have any questions.  It's important to have a power question or two ready such as:

  • What are some of the first priorities for this position?
  • What are you looking for in the person you're going to hire?
  • Based on what I've told you and the job requirements you've outlined, I feel good about my qualifications for the job.  Do you have any concerns?

Talking Salary

When discussing salary, there is one simple rule of thumb:  Let them bring up the subject first.  If you're asked about salary expectations early in the interview process, simply state that you don't feel comfortable talking about salary until all the job responsibilities are understood a little better.

Job References

If you plan to use someone as a job reference make sure to get their permission first, and ask them how they'd like to be contacted.  All references should have seen a recent copy of your resume.  Keep your list up to date with three to five persons that can accurately assess your talents.

Finally, these last three interview tips really have to do with what happens after the meeting.

Interview Thank You Letters

If you're wondering whether or not to address an interview thank you letter starting with Dear Ms. Smith or Dear Margaret, here's a good rule of thumb.  If the hiring company is conservative, or the hiring manager is at a much higher level than the one you're interviewing for, then use a formal address.  If the work environment is more relaxed, or the hiring manager is a peer, then it's acceptable to use a less formal salutation.

Handling Rejection

Before landing the right job, there's a good chance that you're going to be rejected more than once.  If you're really interested in working for the company, then write the hiring manager a professionally constructed letter outlining this disappointment, and the value you could have brought to their organizations.  Make sure they realize you're still interested in working for their company if something should change.

Interview Feedback

If a job offer isn't received, ask the interviewer for feedback on the meeting.  Don't be defensive, just listen and take notes.  Thank the interviewer for their feedback, and compare these notes to others to see if there is a pattern.  Learn from failures and the opportunity for a future success increases.

About the Author - Interview Tips - (Last Reviewed on March 16, 2016)