Friday, March 29, 2013

SMART Job Seeker Cheat Sheet: Interview Basics

By Mary Salvino, Career Management Coach

This easy-to-use cheat sheet pulls together the best tips, tricks, and advice from our archives.  It has been created to provide clear recommendations on how to address the most common areas for improvement related to face-to-face interviews: 
  • Dress appropriately - Your clothes should  be clean and pressed, have your shoes shined and limit the amount of jewelry, perfume and/or cologne you wear
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes before the scheduled appointment
  • Use the restroom before you head into the interview - Do a quick stain/spinach-in-teeth check
  • Pop a breath mint into your mouth before you open the door to the interview site
  • Introduce yourself to the receptionist- N.B. Know that he or she may be a pseudo-spy for your boss-to-be
  • Practice this simple breathing technique to help you reduce stress level:
    • Breath in on the count of three
    • Hold your breath for the count of three
    • Exhale on the count of three
    • Use/Repeat as necessary
  • Greet interviewer with a firm handshake
  • Do not use the interview’s first name unless asked to do so – Use Mr/s. X
  • Do not sit down until asked to do so – The person conducting the interview should sit down first
  • Smile and maintain eye contact throughout the entire interview
  • Be ready to answer the most common interview questions:
    • Tell me about yourself – This is your 30-second ‘elevator speech’ N.B. Your answer should be directly related to the job you seek.
    • Why did you leave your last position?
    • What are your short-term/long-term goals?
    • What are your strengths/weaknesses?
    • What do you know about the company? / Why do you want to work here?
    • How would your boss/colleagues describe you?
    • Why should we hire you?
    • What are your salary expectations?  - Answer this question only if pressed to answer and give a dollar range.  N.B. Do not offer to work for less than you want or need to maintain the life-style you desire.
  • Prepare questions for the interviewer – N.B. If you can find the answer to your question on the Internet, you should not be asking that question.
  • Ask for a business card – You will need this information to send a thank you note
  • Thank the interviewer for their time
  • Do not ignore the receptionist when you leave

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Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Show you care and share this article with your colleagues, coworkers and friends. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, the Senior Consultant for SMART Career It is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future career opportunities. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please send an e-mail to