11 Steps to Interview Success

The last two weeks, I’ve highlighted tips on successfully navigating the career fair and preparing for the phone interview.  After passing those two tests with flying colors, you’ve made it to the face to face interview.  Congratulations for making it this far!  You have set yourself apart from other candidates and truly showed that you have the potential a recruiter looks for in a future employee.  The next step (notice I didn’t say last step – there’s a little more after this) is passing the face to face interview. 

Here are some tips that will help you ace the interview:


Research – know the company inside and out.  Study up on their corporate culture, your fit within, and focus on what you can bring to them to make the company better.

Résumé – bring several copies of your résumé with you, even if you’ve already emailed it to them or submitted online.  Let them know that this is the most updated version for their convenience.  If this is a more technical/creative position (graphic design, etc.) bring samples of your work in a portfolio.

Reputation if needed, clean it up.  This applies to Facebook, MySpace, etc.  If you have pictures that you wouldn’t want the Pope to see, I would suggest cleaning it up.  Un-tag photos of you displaying drunken behavior with red cup in hand, and so on.  If you need to, lock your profile.  Recruiters still have a way to get into this, so I would be safe and just have a clean online presence (especially when you’re jobseeking).  According to a recent study from CareerBuilder, 45% of companies surveyed say they look into a candidate’s social profiles as part of the prescreening process.  My advice: create a professional profile on LinkedIn after you’ve done some clean-up.

Respect – treat the receptionists, assistants, custodians, EVERYBODY with respect.  You never know who your interviewers will ask about your behavior after you leave.  It’s safe to simply be nice and courteous.

Grooming – if possible, I’d suggest a haircut the day before the interview.  It will make a good impression if you’re groomed nicely.  Plus, who doesn’t feel better after a great haircut?  The same principle applies to fingernails (make sure they’re clean and trimmed).

Attire – try on your interview clothes the day before to make sure that everything still fits and that there are no stains.  After fit is confirmed, iron your outfit.  Your interview attire doesn’t have to be brand new, it just needs to look nice.  I won’t go into too much detail on what to (and what not) wear since there is so much free advice out there.  Guys, if you don’t have a tie, borrow one from a friend.  Interview attire varies from place to place, but there are some standards to know.

During the Interview

Answer the Questions – be truthful; give real-world examples with quantifiable results.  The more you can display your analytical skills, the better.  Show the impact of your leadership.  Know some of the basic interview questions that will be asked.

Know the Interview Style – there are several styles of interviewing: traditional (one-on-one) interviews, panel interviews, and behavioral interviews.  Be prepared for any of these types – you probably won’t know which style the hiring managers will use until you get there.  Click on the categories to see some examples of each and how to prepare:

Mind Your Manners – answer with “yes”, not “yeah”.  Addressing the interviewer as “sir” or “miss” unless they direct you otherwise (even then, it is suggested to stick with formality).  Make eye contact with the interview(s) when they’re talking to you, giving them nonverbal cues that you’re listening. 

After the Interview

Know the Timeline – upon the end of the interview, it is appropriate to ask what the hiring timeline looks like for that specific position.  Ask them when you can follow up. 

Follow Up – do what you said you’ll do.  Follow up!  I learned a neat trick from a colleague early in my career that I’ll pass on to you.  Be tenacious, but kind.  Don’t bombard them with relentless emails, phone calls, and thank you notes.  Once you know the timeline for follow up, follow that.  Leave a pre-written note, thanking them for their time at the front desk when you leave.  Wait a week.  Then follow up again.  You can write a handwritten thank you letter and send it to them.  Use this opportunity to restate why you’re so excited to work for them and why you’re the perfect fit.  Again, be tenacious, but kind

Share the love, pass it on, and pay it forward.  If you know someone that would benefit from these tips, please help them out!  Sometimes, it just takes an act of kindness to get them kickstarted and on their way to success.

Next week, the final part of this series, Landing Your Dream Job, will be available. Part 4 – I Got the Job! Now What? will highlight the some of the ways a newly hired employee can position themselves for success through mentorship, professional development and much more.

Subscribe to my blog (right side of the page) to be the first to know when a new post is available.  As always, thanks for reading.


13 thoughts on “11 Steps to Interview Success

  1. Great tips! I would also recommend that if you have a portfolio and can leave examples of your work with your resume, do so. Then the interviewer can show it to a department head that may be your supervisor.

    I also love the point about being curteous to everyone from reception to the person you meet in the elevator. You never know who you will eventually be working with or for.

    KCDEE is a workforce development organization. We “Build YOUR skills for a new career tomorrow” focusing on adults who need to return to the workforce. You can visit us at kcdee.org or our blog at KCDEE5.blogspot.com.


  2. Hello Kirk, You have some great tips here. Couldn´t agree more on your mention of the hair-cut. I have a similar blog as you and recently wrote a similar post as this one, albeit less comprehensive. Feel free to give your thoughts.


  3. Can I also add, be yourself, listen closely to questions and the response the recruiter makes, answer the questions honestly and with confidence. Don’t over rehearse or over think it prior to the interview. Don’t force your answers. It will come across as forced. You want them to see the real you, not someone rehearsed and stiff.

    Take the personal stuff off your resume, nobody will care about your marthon best time or if your good to your grandma. Your resume should best reflect all your great experience and accomplishments. You can’t imagine how many people put on unessesary information on their resume.

    Great information Kirk.


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