10 Tips for Acing That Interview

1. Research, research, and research some more about the company you are interested in working for (via Internet, newspapers, trade publications, association newsletters, and – even though old fashioned – your library’s reference desk).

The more you know about what the company does and how they operate, the better.

Use this knowledge at your interview.

One way to use this knowledge is to “pad” the almost inevitable lull moments during the interview.

When there is a lull in the conversation in the middle of the interview, you can ask a question similar to this:

“What other long term strategic objectives do you want to achieve by the merger with Smith and Lawrence, LLC, besides the industry branding and increased market share”

2. Dress comfortably and conservatively.

Gentlemen: Wear a dark gray or blue suit with an ironed white shirt, conservative tie, dark socks and shoes. If the job you are applying for doesn’t require a suit, wear dark, solid color pants or slacks with a sport shirt in a solid color or with subtle stripes. Don’t wear jeans or athletic shoes.

Ladies: No fleshy jewelry or heavy makeup. Wear a medium to dark color suit, or a dress with a jacket. Or a jacket and skirt together. Choose a light colored shirt to go with the skirt or with the suit – preferably white or ivory.

Both gentlemen and ladies: Make sure that your overall appearance is as professional and as perfect as possible.

3. Treat everyone you come in contact with at the company as if they have authority to hire you (in fact, they might have, you never know.)

It isn’t rare for the hiring authority to review his / her first impressions of you with the receptionist and / or secretary upon the conclusion of the interview.

The company receptionist can easily give insights to the hiring authority about how friendly you were with him / her, how nervous you appeared in the waiting area and of any other behavioral and / or attitude related observations that might weigh heavily in a second-interview and later, a hiring decision.

4. Make and maintain good eye contact with the interviewer during the interview.

Can’t stress this enough.

Look the interviewer in the eye instead of checking your pants or shoes out for the thousandths time.

5. If you are nervous, feel free to say so.

Say something like:

“I find myself very nervous because I’m very interested in your organization.”

Acknowledging your nervousness and anxiety often reduces it and interviewers are usually very understanding.

Remember, it has been known that people hire people who they feel comfortable with. So, make yourself as comfortable as possible!

6. Ask questions, don’t just sit there waiting to be interrogated.

This is where Step 1 comes into play. (Review Step 1 above, if you need to.)

Your preparation is key!

Your knowledge about the company is key here!

The more you know about the company, the easier the questions will come to you and the more comfortable you will feel during the interview.

And because you have just as much right to find out everything about the company as they have finding out about you, you can turn the table around with these sample questions:

“In your opinion, what are the most relevant abilities for this job?”

“How would you describe the long-term goals of the company?”

“So, I have heard that the company is expanding its production line to include xyz gadget. When are you starting the production of these?”

7. Make sure you indicate that you want the job!

One of the top 10 reasons why a job seeker doesn’t get hired is the lack of enthusiasm and interest in both the company and the particular position.

Say that you are interested!!!

You won’t seem like a “beggar”, you will seem sincere and will come across as someone who is motivated.

8. Make sure that you have several copies of your resume with you in case the interviewer asks for it.

Another reason why you want to have more than one original resume at hand is because you might be interviewed by a panel of 4-5 people instead of only one person.

You never know.

It’s best to be prepared. Have AT LEAST 5 originals with you but 10 would be even better. Just in case…

9. Have your professional references listed on a separate sheet of paper.

Make sure that this paper is the same kind of high quality 24 lb. paper as the one your resumes were printed on.

Have approximately 3-5 of your professional references listed on the page.

When the interviewer asks about your references, voila, you will have them right there to present to him / her.

If you are interviewed by a panel, you don’t have to give your reference sheet to every panel member. Just give your reference sheet to the hiring manager. But only if he or she asks for it. Most likely, they will.

Having your references ready and with you for the interview shows a high degree of preparedness and professionalism.

10. Follow up IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE INTERVIEW with a thank-you letter.

You will stand out from the crowd because approximately 95% of job candidates ignore this essential step.

If you want to outperform your competition and leave a final, positive impression with the person who interviewed you, you need to send a thank-you letter or a handwritten thank-you note.

If you were interviewed by a panel, you should send a letter to each of the panel members but only if you have the CORRECT spelling of their names and job titles.

Can’t stress correct spelling enough!

Get the names from the receptionist upon leaving, if you have to.

Or call afterwards.

Do anything to get the CORRECT spelling of the names with the correct job titles.

The company’s website is a great source for this type of information. Look at their “about us” or “officers” page, etc.

If you are typing your thank-you letter on the computer and printing it out, use the same quality and type of stationery you used for your resume and cover letter. If you are sending a handwritten note, use quality thank-you notes, big enough to include these elements:

* Real appreciation of the interviewer’s time.

* Clear understanding of the future duties of your job.

* Briefly highlighting ways your qualifications match the job requirements.

* Mention that you are highly motivated and eager to succeed.

* Also mention that you hope you are being considered for the job because you are very interested in it.

* Say that you look forward to talking to him / her in the near future.


Rita Fisher is an award-winning Certified Professional Resume Writer and President of She specializes in creating resumes for career changers and her resume writing work has been profiled in a book on the Oprah Winfrey Show. She is the only resume writer from Indiana published in “Gallery of Best Resumes” 3rd Edition, by Jist Inc.