What to do in an interview

Everything you've read or heard about the job interview is true. They can be scary. You will be nervous. You won't have an answer on the tip of your tongue to every question asked. You will think of the best answers a half hour after you've left the building.

There are ways to help the interview go well. Preparation is the key to success. Here are some tips on what to do and what not to do during an interview.

  1. Know yourself by reading your own résumé and cover letter to remind you of your qualities and skills. Remember that your passion for your profession got you to the interview. Make sure the interviewer knows that you are enthusiastic about what you do and will make a great employee for them. Use examples of your skills when you are talking.
  2. Research the company. Review their Web site thoroughly. Various internet search engines such as Google, as well as your local library, are also good sources of information. Write down a list of questions you would like to ask during the interview.
  3. Dress professionally and neatly. Wear a suit if appropriate for the work environment. Avoid heavy colognes and excessive jewelry.
  4. Be on time for your interview. Arrive early, test driving the route before the interview if possible, as online map programs can often be inaccurate. From the moment you enter the building, smile and be positive, confident, and enthusiastic.
  5. Turn off your cell phone during the interview.
  6. Get the interviewer's business card and use their name.
  7. Practice succinct answers to interview questions, such as telling something about yourself, why you want to work for a particular business, what your strengths are, what you want to improve, and where you want to be in 3-5 years. Practice will make you less nervous about what you want to say so you can concentrate on making a connection with the interviewer. Listen after speaking. You may have said enough or the interviewer may ask you to add more details. Answer questions honestly. Avoid negative comments about your last employer or job.
  8. Be sure to ask detailed questions about the organization, the duties of the position, performance expectations, and the culture of the organization. Show that you have done your homework. While you want to be sure to get information on the salary and benefits offered for the position, that should not be the first and only thing you ask about. Ideally, wait for the interviewer to bring up those topics for discussion. Employers want to hire candidates who are interested in the position and the organization, not only a paycheck.
  9. Ask the interviewer some questions, such as what they like about working there, what the typical work day is like, and what the business's long term plans are. Listen to the answers and wait until they are finished speaking before asking another question.
  10. Make sure your body language is relaxed and friendly. Breathe deeply and talk slowly to help calm down and think about what you want to say. Make good eye contact throughout the interview.

When the interview is over, thank the interviewer, express interest in the position, and explain why you have the skills for it. Send the interviewer a thank you note or e-mail for the time they spent talking to you. Use their name and spell it correctly on any correspondence.