Interview Do’s & Don’ts

Do's and Don'ts

Preparation is crucial, but the day of the interview will ultimately arrive. Make sure that your knowledge and talent are allowed to show through. An interviewer will make an initial judgment about you within the first few moments of your meeting, so follow these tips to make sure you shine from minute one:

Map it.

Make sure you have directions to the office. If it seems confusing, consider a trial run the day before.

Arrive early.

There is absolutely no excuse for lateness in an interview. Plus, by arriving a few minutes early you'll be able to check out the company and perhaps glean some last-minute information from the atmosphere and staff. If you're sitting alone, be sure to have a copy of the newspaper or an industry journal to read while you're waiting.

Be hungry for the job, not for a sandwich.

Eat something light before you arrive. Nothing too heavy to make you sick, just something to leave you satisfied. Bring some extra breath mints, but never chew gum or candy during an interview.

Dress appropriately.

Appearance does matter in an interview situation. Err on the side of formality - wear a suit, and for women, minimal jewelry, and a neat, professional hairstyle.

Treat support staff politely and professionally.

Interviewers often ask their assistants how candidates presented themselves on the phone and in waiting areas. Consider every contact with the company as part of the interview process. In fact, getting an administrative person on your side may be the best thing you ever do, as they are the gatekeepers who answer the phone, do the scheduling, and open the mail!

Bring collateral materials.

Remember, this is a sales pitch and you want to be prepared with support materials for the product, You. Bring extra copies of your business cards, résumé, and any additional information about yourself. Come prepared with examples (writing samples, web sites you've designed, grant proposals you've written, articles published about you-anything to demonstrate your past success). You may never remove these items from your briefcase, but it's better to have them with you for a little show and tell.

Have references ready.

You may be asked to fill out a job application, including a list of references, so be sure to have their contact details with you at the interview. Never bad-mouth former employers. Remember, you never know who they might know. Rest assured that it's natural to feel anger toward an unfair boss. What's not OK is to burn bridges-with a long career awaiting you-based on those feelings. Recruiters see huge red flags when talking to candidates who harbor ill will toward former employers.

Aspire to sparkle.

Regardless of what someone has done before, they must have a passion for something-anything. Whatever it is they're talking about-jobs, family, or an event in the news-employers want to see excitement. Show it in your eyes and in your voice.

More Interview Do's and Don'ts

  • Don't become too familiar with the interviewer. Remain professional at all times.
  • Do establish commonality-remember to use the research you gained and find a commonality with your interviewer.
  • Don't respond in basic "yes" or "no" answers-always elaborate.
  • Don't be shy about asking the interviewer to repeat the question or clarify what they're asking if you're unsure of something.
  • Don't rush into an answer you're unsure of. If you need a moment to compose your thoughts, it is okay to have a silent pause. This may be seen as a sign of thoughtfulness.
  • Do speak specifically about your role in any previous successes. Let the interviewer know what you did, said, and thought.
  • Don't argue with your interviewer, no matter what. If you don't agree with something the interviewer says, you can acknowledge their point by saying, "I understand how you feel about that," and move on to another subject.