The Interview: Dos and Donts

Well, now you’ve reached the point in your job search where you finally have an interview!

When you sit down with the hiring manager,  that’s where you confirm if this opportunity is really what you want  and — they see if you are what they want.  Even after the best of preparation, there are a number of things that you have to do and don’t do.


* Make eye contact and give a firm handshake.

* Read everything you can about the company in advance and know as much as you can about the position you are interviewing for.

* Provide a BRIEF introduction. Be prepared for the question: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” – tell interviewer who you are, your role, what you like about your job and/or the company, what you want to cover in the interview.

* Find something about the interviewer that interests you and ask them about it.

* Give specific examples of your work.

* Ask follow up questions.

* Take good notes.  And do it right after the interview when it’s fresh.

* Make every interviewer feel engaged and important.  The job might not be the perfect fit, but good interviews lead to good things. A compliment wouldn’t hurt.

* Prepare a great final question.

* Ask about next steps – how the process works.


* Do all the talking.

* Get interested in a job just because you like the interviewer personally.  Conversely, don’t dismiss the opportunity if you don’t get a good vibe.

* Ask questions that can be answered with a “yes or no” – unless you just want to verify something or if you don’t want a long story.

* Say bad things about any company, position or colleague.

* Expect perfection.  Think about where would you make trade offs?

* Make promises or set false sense of expectations.

* Bring up religion or politics.

* Tell a joke.

* Be pessimistic or negative in any way such as whine about the economy.


Interviewing? Here’s a Common Sense Checklist

You’ve reached the point in your job search where you have an interview.

When you sit down with the hiring manager, that’s the point where you see if this is really what you want and they see if you are what they want. If you prepare yourself ahead of time, you’ll do well.

The two most important things to remember (Yes, this is common sense) are:

1.  Show an interest in the job and the company

2.  Be enthusiastic

The following is a checklist of items to consider in preparing yourself, during the interview and follow up after the interview.


___ Get onto the organization’s Web site — the easiest way to get the information you need. Here’s some of the things you’ll want to check:

  • A description of the company, its products and services

  • Historical background

  • Board of Directors and Senior Management Team

  • Their clients, client references

  • Check press releases for new clients, earnings, new technology, etc.

  • Industry analyst reports

  • Under “Careers,” what type of people they’re looking for and current openings

___ If possible, research background information about the hiring manager

___ What’s the hiring process?  How many interviews and by whom?

___ What’s the timing for their interviews?

___ Do you know the kind of interview to expect?

___ Get to know their industry, either through the Internet or through informational interviews

___ Be able to tell the interviewer why you want the job

___ Show how your skills and experience are a good fit for the requirements of the job. (Follow the requirements of the job as listed in their job description.)

___ Prepare a list of questions you want to ask so that you get what you need from the interview

___ Make sure that you have a list of your 3 to 5 strongest and most positive references.

Remember — you’re trying to make a good impression, so be sincere and enthusiastic and show that you are knowledgeable about the organization and have something to offer them.


___ Determine the dress code for the company

___ Dress on the conservative side.

___ Make sure that you arrive early (preferred), but at least on time

___ Bring extra resumes, notepad, pen.

___ Be as relaxed as you can.

___ Know how to pronounce your interviewer’s name correctly.

___ Be personable as well as professional.

___ Before you respond to a question, take time to formulate your answers and respond in the best, most positive light

___ Don’t say anything negative about your prior employer(s).

___ Before you leave, ask the interviewer when you will hear from the company



  • As soon as possible, write down notes from the interview — answers to the questions you asked and any other pertinent information.

  • Follow up with a thank-you letter or e-mail message to each person with whom you’ve talked.

  • If you are working with a recruiter, call and give him or her a summary of the interview, your impressions and the next steps. If you are not interested in the opportunity after the interview, be sure to thank the recruiter for getting you the interview.

  • If you haven’t heard from your contact with the company when they said that they would, follow up with a phone call. Also, if they are not interested in you, ask for any input that you might use in the next steps of your job search.