Interview Tips
Do's and Dont's for a Successful Interview

First impressions are lasting impressions. You can only make a first impression one time. In other words, you are being judged and graded from the moment you walk through the company’s front doors. The employer knows that you are coming, and believe it or not, he or she is watching your every move. Although the interviewer may not be in the waiting room, you can be sure that the front desk receptionist will have an opinion about any unusual (or outstanding) characteristics you may have demonstrated while completing the company’s standard application form, or, while waiting for the interviewer. Such as:

  • Plan on arriving 15 minutes early. A late arrival is never acceptable. Take a practice drive to check your timing, and insure that you know exactly where you are going.
  • Good grooming cannot be overemphasized. Fresh haircut, freshly dry-cleaned business clothing, no cigarette smell on clothing, no cleavage showing, business socks or stockings, polished business shoes. Make your first impression on a prospective employer a lasting one. Do not wear heavy perfume or cologne. None is best.
  • Leave your cell phone in the car! Never take it into an interview!
  • Leave your bulky coat, ring of keys or large purse or briefcase locked in the trunk of your car. Small purses may be acceptable. Instead, take the key to your car off of the key-ring, take in a nice leather portfolio (with your research and a list of questions you want to ask written down on the legal pad), include a pen, and make sure that you have two forms of identification (one that shows identity (usually a drivers license), and one that proves your authorization to work in the U.S. (usually a social security card or birth certificate with a raised seal).
  • Make sure that you have a working quality blue or black pen. An extra is recommended.
  • Make sure that you know what today’s date is.
  • If presented with an application, fill it out completely! (even if you are a high-priced executive and even if you have a resume). Never put “please see attached resume”. To many interviewers, this is not only a sign of laziness, but may also indicate that you cannot follow simple instructions.
  • While waiting for the interviewer, sit quietly and be extremely aware of professional businesslike manners and posture. Remember, you are being judged!
  • Greet the interviewer by his or her last name (using Mr. or Ms.) and be sure of the proper pronunciation.
  • When in the interviewer’s office, wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. Sit upright with both feet on the floor and look alert and interested at all times.
  • Look the employer in the eyes when speaking. Now is not the time to be shy or timid.
  • Follow the employer’s lead, but try to get him or her to describe the position early in the interview so that you can have ample time to relate your background, education and experience before your time runs out.
  • LISTEN! Answer all questions truthfully and in a straightforward manner that shows the employer the benefit(s) of hiring you. (Remember, stress (1) ways in which you can help make the company money (and how), (2) ways that you might save the company money (and how), and, (3) your special accomplishments, honors, awards, etc while working at your last employer(s).
  • Get your good points across to the interviewer in a factual sincere manner. You must make the employer realize the need for you in the company.
  • Ask questions throughout the interview. An interview should be a mutual exchange of information, not a one-sided conversation. For a list of sample questions please click here: Most commonly asked questions.
  • Once you have accepted a (any) job offer, be sure to call or write every company you have interviewed (including other recruiters you may be working with) to inform them that you are no longer looking for employment; that you have accepted suitable employment.
  • Caution. Be patient. Employers are very busy people. Their primary job is not to interview you. So, be patient if the interview does not start on time. Some employers are not prompt on purpose. This could be a test to see how you deal under a little of pressure.
  • Express thanks for the interviewer’s time and consideration. Ask for the job!
  • Ask for the employer’s business card so that you can write a thank you letter.
  • Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne. None is best.
  • Don’t carry a briefcase or take a large purse into the interview. You don’t need to take the kitchen sink to an interview. A professional binder or portfolio with a legal tablet, and your resume & transcript and a few certificates or statistical evidence of your successes is all you need. Any and all large or bulky items (including large coats) should be left in your car.
  • Do not take a large ring of keys with you. Take your car key off of the key-ring and put it in your pocket.
  • Leave your cell phone or beeper in your car. Do not take a cell phone into the interview under any circumstances!
  • Do not ever do this! Always fill out the company’s application form in detail. This rule especially applies to big ego type Executive candidates. An application form is a type of a “test” to many employers and, if you fail to complete their job application, you may have already flunked the most basic “can you follow simple instructions” test.
  • While waiting for the interviewer, do not read magazines! You are not are not there to be entertained. Instead, open your eyes and become aware of the environment that you claim you want to be a part of. Rehearse the questions you want to ask, plan on how you are going to sell your skills and background to the interviewer, and look like you are genuinely excited to be there. Be ready to leap up and take the first initiative to greet and shake the hand of the interviewer when he or she enters into the waiting area.
  • Do not pace in the waiting room and do not waste the receptionist’s time with idle conversation. She/he has work to do and is not there to entertain you. Keep it all business.
  • Don’t answer vague questions. Rather than trying to answer a question that is not clear, ask the employer to be more specific.
  • Do not over-answer questions. If the interviewer steers the conversation into politics, religion or economics, answer honestly while not saying more than necessary.
  • Never make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers. This makes all employers uncomfortable…..they will feel that you will do the same to them when you leave their company.
  • Never interrupt the employer. Listen until he or she is finished talking, then respond.
  • Never, smoke, chew gum or place anything on the employer’s desk top. If you are a smoker, do not smoke another cigarette from the time you shower until after the interview. Leave your cigarettes in the car and do not ask if this is a smoking office.
  • Do not ask about benefits, salary, vacation time, holidays, travel pay, reimbursements, car expenses (or anything having to do with compensation or benefits) in your first or second interview. Once the employer has expressed interest in hiring you, you will have a chance to ask these questions. Right now, focus on getting that offer first.
  • Don’t ramble. On the other hand, don’t answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” Always provide supporting detail.
  • Never Lie. Answer questions truthfully. Once an employer finds out the truth (and they always will) you will be immediately terminated for lying.
  • Never, ever get discouraged when / if an employer says something that may turn you off (such as low-balling what you had anticipated the starting salary to be). This (just) could be a test to see if you are more interested in money than the opportunity. Regardless of what the employer says, stay focused, keep selling! Your objective is to get a job offer….not a job. Besides, you can’t turn down something you don’t have
  • Don’t leave the interview without thanking the interviewer for his/her time, and without asking for the job. Remember, you can always turn-down an unacceptable job offer; but, you have to get the offer first!
  • Don’t call your recruiter after the interview. Instead, go back to the office so that we can help you get to the next step in the interview process. Timing is everything.

Closing the Interview

If you are interested in the job, ask for it! Ask for the next interview if the job is not offered to you at that point. If the job is offered to you, and you want it, by all means accept it on the spot. If you want some time to think it over, feel free to ask for some time; however, always give the employer a specific day and time that he/she can expect to hear back from you. If you decide that you do not want the job, DO NOT REJECT IT! (if you obtained the offer through dmDickason). Discuss your reasons why with your dmDickason Recruiter first. Many times, we can solve the issues that initially motivated you to want to reject the offer, especially if there are some interests on your part. Most companies will often take a flexible position on paying more money, provide better benefits, expand areas of responsibility; etc, especially if you are the right candidate for them. Never let your guard down in an interview that appears to be going in a different direction than you had hoped. Remember, your immediate objective, always, is to get a job offer……not a job.

Do not become discouraged if an offer is not made. The interviewer probably needs to first communicate with others in the company, and/or other candidates may have to be interviewed. Once again, if you get the impression that an interview is not going well; do not let your discouragement show. Once in a while, an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you may seem to discourage you in order to test your reactions to rejection or change. No matter what, keep selling! Finally, thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration and ask for a second interview….CLOSE THE SALE! A “thank you for your time, I hope to hear from you soon” is not a close. Instead, “when can we meet again” will most likely get the desired results; a second or third interview.

Last and most important, go back to your dmDickason Recruiter’s office (if a local candidate) immediately after the interview and tell him or her the details of the interview. Timing is important. A timely follow-up with the employer, as soon after the interviewer has met with you, is critical to us closing the deal. You must take this advice seriously. This step may make or break your future with this company. Although we would prefer to talk to you face-to-face, make sure that you, at least, call your Recruiter immediately after. Help us help you achieve the success you desire.

For more information on preparing for your interview, please click on one of the helpful links below:

Resume Writing Tips Interview Preparation Selling your experience
Interview Follow-Up Resigning your Position Beware of the Counter-Offer
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