Congratulations! You’ve landed the interview. Now it’s time to prepare.

Employment By Kiely

Kuligowski, Writer

In this article:

Before the job interview


Before you arrive at the interview, you should be well versed in everything the company does and stands for.


“Know the company you’re interviewing for,” said Margaret Freel, marketing specialist at Keystone Solutions. “Make sure you know the company’s mission statement and values.”


Freel suggests researching the company. Investigate if the company has been in the news recently, released new products or won any recent awards. If you have the opportunity to try the company’s product or service, do it so you have firsthand experience with what the business offers.


Candidates should also “research the company through blogs, publications, studies and speaking with industry leaders,” said Taylor Dumouchel, a compensation liaison and program officer at Employment and Social Development Canada. “Use this information to demonstrate your knowledge of the company’s current market position and where they are headed in the future.” 


Many companies want to learn how you plan to make an impact in the role you are interviewing for, so a strong base knowledge of how the company works and exactly where you can be effective works in your favor. 


Besides, it’s detrimental if you’re unprepared should the interviewer ask you a company-specific question. “These are things a candidate should know and be prepared to talk about during the interview,” Freel said. “Doing your research is a signal to the interviewer that you’re not just looking for a job, but this job.” 

These are some key things to research:

Reviewing your resume

Your resume is likely the reason the hiring manager called you. Although you may have already submitted a digital copy with your application, bring multiple printed copies of your resume to the interview. Also, print your resume on quality resume paper instead of standard printer paper.


“Don’t assume your interviewer has seen your resume, let alone has
an available copy for your interview,” said Amanda Augustine, career
expert and spokesperson for TopResume. She recommended bringing at least three
copies of your resume to the interview.


“Additional employees may be pulled into the interview process at the last minute,” she said. “Be prepared to hand them a copy of your resume, walk them through your career story, and tie your qualifications back to the position at hand.”


Augustine advised rereading the job description before your interview and reviewing your resume to develop a narrative that explains how your previous experiences have shaped you into a great candidate for the role at this company.


“Always think about your experience in the context of this particular job and its requirements,” she said. “You don’t need to rehash every role that’s
listed on your resume, but you should call attention to the parts of your experience that are most relevant for this job opportunity.”


If there are gaps between jobs on your resume, you may be asked what happened. The good news is that you can easily rehearse and prepare responses to questions about short stays or work gaps, said Erica Zahka, account executive at Brainshark.


“Always be honest, concise, and never point fingers at previous employers,” she said. “For short stays, make sure it is clear that the reason you left company X after such a short period of time is not a reason that applies to this role.”


Remember, you control how you discuss your experience; keep the focus on the positives. “Explain the gap honestly and with confidence, and then shift the conversation back toward your future goals as they relate to the position,” said Dana Leavy-Detrick, founder and chief resume writer at Brooklyn Resume Studio.


“If you’re returning to the workforce from an extended leave, talk about what inspired you to make a transition and how you plan to leverage your

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During the job interview

You’ve done your research, you brought copies of your resume, and you’ve prepared responses for questions that might arise based on your resume. Now the time for the interview has come, and with that comes the oft-dreaded part of interviewing: the questions.


“Candidates get nervous about job interviews because there’s the potential they’ll be asked an open-ended question that will give the interviewer a secret view into who the candidate really is,” said Rich Milgram, founder and CEO of career network Nexxt. “But the real secret is that a lot of the time the interviewer doesn’t know what the right answer is either, or they’ll admit that there is no right answer, so just relax.”


Glassdoor recently compiled a list of the most asked questions to expect in an interview:

The STAR method

For any questions on your skills or experience, Augustine recommends using the STAR method to demonstrate how you possess a particular skill that’s required for the role:

  1. Identify a situation or task where you demonstrated that skill.
  2. Describe the actions you took to resolve the matter.
  3. Discuss the results of your actions. For instance, were you able to defuse a tense situation with a disgruntled customer? Did you help your team complete a project on time or under budget? Did you cut costs or generate revenue?

Leavy-Detrick recommends practicing your answers to common questions about your strengths and your long- and short-term career goals, and reviewing them with a friend or colleague.

“They’ll be able to immediately identify shifts in your tone and mannerisms that might impact your presentation and confidence,” she said.

Preparing your own questions

You should also prepare a few questions of your own to ask during the interview. Not only does it give you the opportunity to gain deeper insights into the company, role, and culture, but it shows the hiring manager that you’re truly interested in the organization.


“During the interview, you should take the time to assess whether the employer is the right fit for you, not just try to prove to the employer that you’re right for the job,” Zahka said.


While the standard “What’s a typical day like here?” and “How would you describe your company culture?” are fine to ask, you can stand out from other job seekers by asking unique, insightful questions that ultimately reinforce why you’re an ideal fit for the role.


Travis Furlow, vice president of enterprise accounts at TrueBlue Inc., shared seven questions to ask during your next interview. 

How to handle inappropriate questions

Under regulations from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers are barred from asking certain questions that can be considered discriminatory. These questions involve ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, family arrangements or other personal identity factors. This Business News Daily article outlines other illegal job interview questions that employers shouldn’t ask.


If you feel uncomfortable with a question or believe it’s discriminatory, you have several options for how to respond:

Questions not to ask

While questions are often encouraged during a job interview, there are limits to what you can and should ask as a job candidate. Here are some examples of questions you should not ask and why the question may not be appropriate.

Common interview mistakes

Poor etiquette in a job interview can ruin your chances of landing a position, even if you’re highly qualified. It is important to find the right balance between coming across as a confident professional while remaining humble and polite. Avoid these common interview etiquette mistakes:

Showing up at the wrong time

When it comes to arriving at the right time, most interview candidates are worried about being late. But Rudeth Shaughnessy, a former HR director and current senior editor for Copy My Resume, said that arriving too early is poor etiquette, too. Aim to arrive no more than 10 minutes early – if you need to hang out in the lobby for a few minutes, that’s OK. Use the time to brush up on your notes or practice your introductory speech.

Showing up at the wrong time

Many interviews have two or more interviewers in the room, and ignoring certain people in the interview committee can ruin your chance of landing the job. Be sure to address every person conducting the interview, making eye contact and speaking directly to them in turn. Many job candidates tend to only address the highest-ranking person in the room, which comes across as rude.

Dressing inappropriately

Dressing inappropriately sends several messages. You appear sloppy, inconsiderate, disrespectful, and unprofessional, in addition to signaling that you don’t take the opportunity seriously.


Most interviewers would rather see a job candidate overdressed than underdressed, but keep in mind that overdressing to the extreme also generates a poor impression. Research the company to get an idea of the dress code. For example, you should not show up in a full suit if you’re interviewing for a journalist position, but it may be appropriate for a role in banking.

Treating phone or video interviews casually

Many initial interviews are conducted by phone or video, but you shouldn’t treat them any less seriously. Formal interview etiquette still applies.


Test your microphone or camera before the interview. Choose a quiet place to set up, and don’t interrupt the interview to take calls, answer the door or talk to anyone else. If you live with family or roommates, let them know you are interviewing and should not be disturbed during that time.


It’s also OK to have your notes and resume in front of you to reference during the interview.

Poor communication and body language

However valuable or insightful your answers are during an interview, poor communication or body language can discredit you.


Focus on being a polite and clear communicator during your interview. Don’t interrupt, no matter how eager you may be to answer the question. If you accidentally talk before the interviewer has finished, apologize quickly and let them continue speaking.


Speak clearly when it is your turn; mumbling comes across as inconsiderate, and it diminishes your confidence.


Be aware of your body language. Nervous behaviors like fidgeting or tapping your knee are common in stressful situations, but in an interview setting, you run the risk of appearing rude or impatient. Sit up straight and avoid fidgeting as much as possible, and maintain appropriate eye contact.


The goal is to be engaged and interactive. Looking someone in the eye when they speak to you and while you’re responding indicates respect for the person and that you are present in the moment. Frequently looking away or over your shoulder while talking to them conveys disinterest.


Test your microphone or camera before the interview. Choose a quiet place to set up, and don’t interrupt the interview to take calls, answer the door or talk to anyone else. If you live with family or roommates, let them know you are interviewing and should not be disturbed during that time.


It’s also OK to have your notes and resume in front of you to reference during the interview.

Acting overconfident or entitled

Valerie Streif, marketing manager at GetMyBoat, warns job candidates to pay attention to their tone.


“Something that hurts a lot of job seekers is being overconfident and unaware of how they sound in an interview,” she said.


While being confident of your skills and excited about the value you can add to a company will benefit you, there is a fine line between poised and arrogant. Acting as if you are entitled to a position will instantly seem rude, no matter how qualified you are. Remember that you were invited to interview, and stay quietly confident and humble.

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After the job interview

Following up

One of the trickiest parts of interviewing is determining how long after the interview you should wait to follow up. If the hiring manager doesn’t indicate the company’s timeline by the end of the interview, be sure to politely ask (before you leave) when you might expect to hear from them if they decide to move forward.


“Honor the timeframe that they present before following up about their decision,” Zahka said.


Regardless of the company’s timeframe, experts advise emailing a thank-you note to each individual you met with during the interview within 24 hours. If you wish to send an additional handwritten note, S. Chris Edmonds, an author and the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, advised mailing it the same day you send your email.


“That way, it’ll arrive a day or two following your email note, adding gravitas to your thoughtfulness,” said Edmonds.


Your follow-up should include three main things:

For examples of follow-up letters, read this Business News Daily article.


It is vital not to overcommunicate or badger the interviewer. Send one follow-up 24 hours after the interview, and you may consider sending one more if you do not hear from them after more than a week, unless they specifically told you to expect a longer timeline.

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