Acing the Interview

You’ve found a job posting that is right up your alley, prepped your resume and sent it off. If all goes well, you’ll get a phone call or an email inviting you to interview. The interview, be it face to face or over the phone, is your chance to set yourself apart from the crowd – and is usually the most nerve-wracking part of the process! Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to making a great impression.

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One Minute Video Tips for Interviews

One Minute Interview and Resume Videos A collection of one-minute videos from

How can I prepare for an interview?

Learn as much as you can about the organization that you are interviewing with. A good way to do this is to go to Google or another search engine and type in the company’s name. Most companies have a web site, so be sure to familiarize yourself with it. Also, re-read the description of the job that you applied for and think about how your past work experience or schooling relates to specific aspects of the job.

What should I wear to an interview?

First, make sure you are clean, well-groomed, and not chewing gum. Take out any piercings (except simple, small earrings for women) and make sure any tattoos are covered. If you are interviewing for a professional level job, it is best for men to wear a dark-colored suit, a light-colored shirt, and a tie. Women who are interviewing for professional positions should wear either a pantsuit or a skirt suit, hosiery, and closed-toe shoes; keep jewelry and hairstyle simple. Both men and women should make sure that their shoes are clean. Wear little perfume or cologne, if any, in case the interviewer is sensitive to certain scents. For non-professional positions such as fast food or retail, it is generally acceptable to wear dress pants or khakis and a collared shirt. If possible, visit the place where you may be working before your interview and observe what employees are wearing. If that is not possible, it is perfectly acceptable to call the company’s human resources department and inquire about a dress code. A good rule of thumb is to dress one level above normal dress requirements when you go on a job interview.

What should I bring to an interview?

Be sure to take your Social Security card and government-issued photo identification with you when you interview. Bring extra copies of your resume and references. You may also need copies of school transcripts, but generally, you will be notified in advance of your interview if this is required. A notebook and pen will come in handy if you want to make any notes or jot down questions as they arise during your interview. You may want to purchase a portfolio for your paperwork and notepad and to keep all your documents neat and organized.

What questions will I be asked at an interview?

Interview questions will vary depending upon the position that you are applying for, so it is best to familiarize yourself with the job description and think about how your qualifications match up with what the company is looking for in a new employee. However, there are many questions that are common to interviews in any industry. Once you are comfortable with the answers you would give, practice interviewing with a friend or family member. Have them improvise by using questions that they have been asked during job interviews.

Sample interview questions

What questions can I ask at an interview?

Interviewers will generally end an interview by asking if the applicant has any questions. It’s a good idea to take a notepad and pen with you during interviews so that you can jot down questions as they arise. If you can’t think of any questions specific to the job, you may want to ask about the typical daily activities of the new position or when the company expects to make a hiring decision.

Questions to ask potential employers

Should I do anything to follow up after an interview?

Within twenty-four hours of your interview, send thank-you notes to each person who interviewed you in order to thank them for their time and reaffirm why you would be the best candidate for the position. If you expect the hiring decision to be made before the thank-you notes would arrive, you may want to fax, email, or hand deliver the notes.

Samples thank you notes

If you do not hear anything back from the interviewer by the time they had expected to reach a decision, or within a reasonable amount of time (such as a week or two), it’s a good idea to call or email the interviewer to find out about the status of the position. If a decision has not yet been made, ask when that is likely to happen and mention that you will follow-up with them. If you have received another offer but are waiting to find out this company’s decision first, let the employer know, as it may speed up the decision process. If a decision has been made and you were not selected, ask the interviewer if he or she has any recommendations about how you could improve your chances at your next interview. Because of liability issues, you may not get a direct answer, but it is worth asking.

T3 Contributor:
Denver Public Library