Nailing the Interview: Part I

So you’ve submitted your resume and landed an interview, and now it’s time to shine. Unless the hiring manager is a close friend or relative, you’ve got some work to do. Here are a few tips to help you nail the interview and be well on your way to securing an offer.


Your interview prep should start way before you walk in the door. Read up on the company, peruse their website, but whatever you do don’t walk in blind. Why would they think you have a sincere interest in working there if you don’t even know what the job is about? Have a few comments prepared about how you might fit in and contribute, and jot down a few intelligent questions you might ask about their operations or corporate goals. Lay out your sharpest outfit and allow extra time to get ready so you can leave early and arrive with plenty of time to spare. Have a few extra copies of your resume and, if appropriate, put together samples of your work – not too many, just a few of the highlights.

Flip the “On” switch

You want the interviewer to see you at your best, so whether it’s giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror or belting out Don’t Stop Believing on the car ride over (not recommended if taking public transportation), do whatever it takes to walk in the door with enthusiasm and positive energy. Be polite and friendly to everyone from the parking garage, to the reception desk, and straight on through to everyone you encounter. People respond well to someone who is upbeat, with a great attitude, so leave them feeling warm and fuzzy.

Be engaged

Try to immediately connect with the interviewer. Smile, shake hands, and make eye contact. Side note: as you go to shake hands, keep your eyes on the outstretched hand and secure a good handshake grip, then make eye contact. I’ve made the mistake of looking someone in the eyes as we were extending our hands, then we sort of missed and he ended up basically shaking the tips of my fingers, which must have given him the impression that I had the hands of a toddler. Trust me, you don’t want to be remembered as “toddler hands.” Anyway, once you sit down with the interviewer, be sure to truly listen to what he or she is saying and asking. And remember, you are not expected to formulate and deliver all answers within four seconds, so take a moment to breathe and think – no need to rush.

At this point, you’re ready to roll, but now comes the tricky part: first you have to navigate through a series of questions exchanged between you and the interviewer. This is where doing your homework will really pay off, so tune in next time for some tips regarding the types of questions you may be asked, how you should answer, and what questions you should ask in return.

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