Useful Job Search and Interviewing Tips

Before the Interview

  • Research the company, industry, job, salary and benefits as much as possible. Use the company’s web site to determine its mission, culture, products and distribution, and salary and benefit parameters. Use other web sites as well. Ask friends, neighbors and relatives who work for the company, or in the industry, for information. Use the library and local chambers of commerce as resources.

  • Learn everything you can about the job and how well your previous experience, knowledge and training qualifies you for the position.

  • Collect all the information you will need to complete an application, including dates, names and contact information of previous employers and of references. Bring your Social Security card, driver’s license, union card or other certificates appropriate for the job. Bring extra copies of your updated resume.

  • Dress appropriately for a business meeting. Consider acquiring a good “interview outfit.” It should be in good shape (including shined shoes) and fit properly and comfortably.

  • Get directions to the interview site and do a “dry run” beforehand to determine the best route and allow you enough time to arrive early on the day of the interview.

  • Arrange for babysitting and transportation so that you can arrive early and feel relaxed.

During the Interview

  • Arrive 10 to 15 minutes early to complete the application. Read the entire application first and follow directions in completing it. Print neatly and spell words correctly. Do not leave blank spaces unless instructed to do so; if something does not apply to you, print N/A for “Not Applicable.” Double-check information, looking to see that it is complete and contains no errors such as overlapping employment dates. Be sure to sign the application.

  • Be friendly to the receptionist and everyone you meet.

  • Just before the interview, remind yourself that you will be discussing a position that—at the moment—is the most important job in the world.

  • Shake hands firmly and maintain eye contact.

  • Learn the interviewer’s name, title and contact information (for your follow-up letter).

  • Avoid negative remarks about former employers or co-workers.

  • Let the interviewer direct the conversation. Answer questions clearly and in a positive manner. Show how your experience and training match-up with the job requirements.

  • Allow the interviewer to lead into the discussion of salary and benefits. Avoid naming a specific salary; one that is too high may prevent you from getting the job, and too low under-sells your value to the company. Answer questions on salary with responses such as, “I am interested in the job as a career opportunity, so am negotiable on the starting salary.”

  • Ask when a decision will be made and if and when you should follow-up with a phone call. Thank the employer for the interview and reaffirm your enthusiasm for the job.

After the Interview

Within 24-hours, you should send a thank-you letter to each person in attendance during your interview. Your typed letter (never send a hand-written note) should follow business correspondence style. You should feature a few highlights from your conversation and any agreement to follow-up. And reaffirm your interest in the job. View a sample thank you letter here.

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