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Tips & Tricks for the Big Day

Make the most of your interview opportunity by dressing professionally, familiarizing yourself with the location, combating nervousness, and knowing how to anticipate and answer questions.

Dress professionally

Your appearance shows that you care about the position, and it makes a good (or bad) first impression. You should be slightly more dressed up than the average employee. If in doubt, a suit (or skirt and blouse for women) is always a good bet.

Make sure your clothes, hair and nails are clean and neat. Iron your clothing, get a haircut if you need it and trim your nails.

Be on time

Nothing gives a bad impression like being late. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready for and travel to the interview. Plan to arrive 10 to 15 minutes early. It’s not a bad idea to make a test run to the interview site in advance to familiarize yourself with the travel route.

Consider carrying a briefcase or leather portfolio to the interview. In addition to giving you a professional look, they can carry things you might need, such as:

  • a pen and paper to record important information
  • copies of your resume or application and reference sheet
  • examples of your work, such as writing samples.

Combat nervousness

Most people are nervous when interviewing. But remember, you have been asked to interview for the job because the employer believes you could be right for it. The interview is your chance to confirm that belief.

The interview begins the moment you arrive. Everyone you meet, from the receptionist to the hiring manager, will form an impression of you. When you meet people, be sure to:

  • smile warmly and shake hands
  • make eye contact
  • maintain good posture

Do not use slang, chew gum or smoke. Standard politeness is important because the interviewer knows very little about you. Never use the interviewer's first name unless you are invited to do so, and don't sit down until the interviewer does.

It’s OK to take a minute to answer a question. A moment of silence shows that you are thoughtful. An “ummm” shows that you are nervous. Remember: practice is the best way to combat nervousness. Read more about preparing for the interview.

Ace the questions

You can use the STAR method to help you answer questions. The STAR method will help you organize your answers into logical parts. To answer an interview question, you will:

  • explain the Situation 
  • tell what your Task was
  • explain what Action you took
  • talk about the Results of your action

Practice the STAR method before you arrive, and you’ll be confident and poised with your answers. Even if you can’t remember what STAR stands for during the interview, you can remember to focus on your own actions and the results of your actions.

At some point, usually toward the end of the interview, you will have the opportunity to ask your own questions. This is your chance to find out more about the company. Some questions you may want to ask include:

  • Who would supervise me?
  • Can you describe a typical assignment?
  • Are there opportunities for advancement?

An interview is not the time to inquire about salary or benefits. You don't want to seem more interested in financial rewards than in contributing to the company. If asked about salary requirements, try to convey flexibility. The best time to discuss earnings is after you have been offered the job.

Before leaving the interview, make sure you understand the next step in the hiring process. Find out whether there will be another round of interviews, whether you should provide additional information and when a hiring decision will be made.

Be sure to thank the interviewer. If you are interested in the job, say so. Then make sure you follow up appropriately.