Friday, December 01, 2006


By Randi Lewis

Interviewing is a learned skill. And the more you interview, the more skilled you become. When we work with professionals and students on interviewing skills, we tailor each session to the individual and the job focus. But, there are some universal do’s and don’ts that every job seeker should learn. If you remember nothing more, remember these simple A B C’s of interviewing:

  • A = Appear professional. Dress in a conservative, dark suit.
  • B = Be prepared. Research the company and interviewers.
  • C = Communicate confidently your qualifications & interest.


  1. It is of the utmost of importance that you look clean, crisp, and professional. Make sure you have showered, brushed your teeth, and that you are well-groomed. When in doubt, dress up. Wear a suit. It shows respect.
  2. Men, wear dark suits with a white or light blue shirt and a conservative tie.
  3. Women, wear a dark knee-length suit (not pants) with a light blouse or a dark dress with closed toe shoes and pantyhose.
  4. No Distractions. The Focus is on YOU. Do not wear heavy cologne or perfume because your interviewer may be allergic to it or find it unappealing. Lose the nose ring, the purple hair, the black nail polish, and the short skirts. Lose the bow tie, the tattered shoes, and the polyester suit.
  5. First Impressions Are Hard To Break. For each interviewer you meet, extend your hand, shake hands firmly, introduce yourself, smile, and look the interviewer in the eye. That’s a great start. Maintain good eye contact throughout the interview.


You should prepare for each interview as if you were studying for an exam. Find the company on the internet and study the site. Learn what is important to the company and how it positions itself. Find commonalities between the company’s philosophy and yours.
  • Learn about your interviewers if possible. Have they spoken at conferences, have they written articles; have they won awards? You are going to store this information and use it, where appropriate, during the interview.
  • Know Your Resume. Know everything on your resume. Prepare two talking points about the highlights of each prior job position.
  • Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses. Think about your strengths and the positive feedback you have received. Be prepared to discuss your greatest strengths, how you could add value to the company, and what your supervisors and peers have said about you. Be prepared to talk about your weaknesses. This is tricky. You don’t want to say that you don’t have any weaknesses because the interviewer might conclude you are unable to self-reflect. But you want to talk about a weakness very briefly and then turn the conversation into how you have managed to overcome it or how, with experience, the problem has become less of an issue. Don’t offer your weaknesses and don’t dwell on them.
  • Prepare Three Questions. Prepare three questions (or more) to ask each interviewer.
  • The Interview.

    Take Your Cues From The Interviewer. Check you audience. Don’t talk too much, too fast, or too slow. Don’t answer in one or two word answers. Weaver your prepared strengths into the conversation. Talk about commonalities between the company’s needs and your experience.
  • Be Engaged During The Interview. Turn off your cell phone. Sit tall, maintain eye contact, respond appropriately. Show your knowledge about the company in your answers to questions and in the questions you ask. When it is your turn to ask questions, always ask a question from your prepared question list or one more appropriate to the conversation. The questions should be about the company, the position, or the interviewer’s career.
  • Behavioral Questions. You may be asked what are commonly known as behavioral questions. Some companies spend thousands of dollars on consultants who study the organization and determine questions that might elicit whether you have the right stuff to join the company. They may ask you how you have handled work-related situations in your current or prior jobs. The theory behind the questions is that the best way to determine an applicant’s suitability for a job is to learn how he/she has handled prior work experiences.
  • Sound Directed and Project Confidence. Be able to discuss your career goals, why you want this job with this company, and why you would be a fit for the position. Highlight your accomplishments and attributes in concrete examples. Keep the conversation focused on the company and your suitability for the position. Don’t talk about your personal life.
  • What You Do At the Conclusion of The Interview. Stand up, look each interviewer in the eye, shake his/her hand FIRMLY, smile, and thank him/her for taking the time to meet with you. Don't ask about next steps. You can call the HR person or recruiter later.
  • Send Thank You Notes. Take the time to send individualized thank you notes either by email, or in writing by hand or typewritten.
  • For more detailed information about interviewing, you can contact Randi Lewis at 410-602-2500 or by email at © Resume Boutique LLC™ 2006. All rights reserved.