Essential Job Interview Do’s and Don’ts

May 31, 2011 3:20 AM

Whitney Port interviews at DVF on The City

An interview is not an interrogation – but if you really want the job, then it is a competition. So, we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts – amassed over years of being on both sides of the interview process and discussing the high and low points of applicant interviews with many managers – that will save you from fatal mistakes and put you ahead of the pack.

Don’t dress casually – Even if you’re applying to work in an environment where everyone wears jeans, even if it’s casual Friday and even if you intend to rock a messy bun every day once you actually get the job, you must dress up for your interview. It shows you have respect for the interview process, that you understand business etiquette and that you own the right clothes for an important meeting or event and know how to wear them. Ladies, keep it classy and polished – smooth hair, proper length of skirt, no cleavage and if the only pair of heels you own are your clubbing ones, it’s time for a new pair. Closed-toe nude or black pumps will get you a long way.

Do try to arrive 15 minutes early – That way you’ll probably arrive just on time. There are a dozen things that might make you late to an interview, from misplacing your keys to traffic jams. To avoid the worst case scenario – missing the interview and/or making a bad first impression – as well as the most common scenario – feeling rushed, unsettled and sweaty as you race against time, genuinely plan to be there 15 minutes before your interview time.

Do speak up – They’re judging you, that’s no secret, and they barely know you, so they don’t have much to go on. So, while you might be really quiet by nature, you must speak up, speak clearly and watch your posture and body language during an interview. Many a job has gone to the better talker whether they deserved it or not, so practice turning up the volume, uncrossing those arms and smiling.

Do your homework – I once interviewed someone for a position with Steven and Chris and he called the show “Chris and Steve” and said he hadn’t watched it but knew of it. Why bother applying? Employers need to know that you want to be there and that you’re looking for more than just a paycheck. Showing knowledge of their company or brand and enthusiasm for it is absolutely essential. So, Google, learn and come very prepared.

Don’t presume they know your resumé – It’s very likely that the people interviewing you haven’t had the time to properly review your resume, especially if there’s a first round vetting process by HR. And even if someone has hand picked you for an interview, he or she is busy and might not remember everything about your application. So, first off bring your resumé or any portfolio materials, depending on how you choose to showcase your work and experience. Secondly, you must find ways to remind them of your past successes and toot your own horn when you answer their questions and the best way to do that is to elaborate on your answers with concrete examples.  Instead of, “I think I’d be a good candidate because I’m an excellent writer” say, “I think I’d be a good candidate because I’m an excellent writer. In my last job, I wrote the monthly newsletter that had a distribution list of over 10,000 people and also wrote the company’s daily blog, which had almost 2,000 unique visitors every day.” With every question your interviewer asks you, he or she is hoping to be impressed. So, without sounding cocky, seize the chance to do just that.

Do bring notes – Don’t waste time stressing about remembering what to say. Think of an interview as a meeting, not a test. You should definitely come prepared with insight and ideas but you don’t need to memorize them. There’s nothing wrong with bringing notes about what you think of their product, their website, what you would do if you got the job or anything else you want to discuss. You’ll actually look more prepared and organized.

Don’t forget to clean up your social media – We research everyone we interview online, so if you’ve written a blog post about how you skipped work or if you drunk-tweet from a bar every night, we’ll find it. As you prepare for an interview make sure your Facebook and Twitter profiles don’t have anything on them you wouldn’t want a future employer to see and also make sure your LinkedIn profile matches your resumé. We all tailor our resumés for specific jobs but any inconsistencies will make people question how honest you’re being about your experience and skills.

Don’t wait to say thank you – This isn’t dating and there’s no three day rule. You can say thank you from your smart phone as you leave the building! It shows them you’re connected and on the ball and will be just as attentive with their clients and associates if they hire you.

If you have any questions about your next interview please feel free to ASK US. We’re here to help.



One Response to Essential Job Interview Do’s and Don’ts

  1. memory clearance on July 11, 2011 at 8:30 PM

    Have you ever investigated or actually outsourced your article writing, don’t worry I am not offering services, writing this is more than enough for me already!! – I’m just collecting opinions, as I hate writng and I’m considering outsourcing myself, I am just conncerned about quality etc.