Tips For A Successful Job Interview

There are some obvious things to consider when going on a job interview, however there are also other subtle points that we might need to be reminded of from time to time. I will be discussing some of these here.

I expect that you already know the obvious, such as dressing appropriately, arriving on time, and having copies of your resume available, so I will not discuss these here, except to say don’t forget…..these are key prerequisites.


One of the very key things when going on a job interview is to “know your resume”:

It is very embarrassing when people come into interviews and have phrases on their resume such as, “expert in……” Unless you are truly an expert, please leave that out of the resume.  It’s ok to use phrases such as knowledgeable in, experienced with or even familiar with.  Don’t feel obligated to call yourself an expert just because you have been in the field for a while.  That is fodder for the interviewer to give you the 3rd degree.  You might come across an interviewer who “wrote the book” so to speak, and then you will be called upon  to really show your true expertise.  So again, unless you are really an expert, leave that word out.

Be able to talk about your experiences, if you don’t recall what you did on a particular job, then go back to their website and review their product or technology, re-acquaint yourself with their process.  If that fails, call and ask someone in your previous department what some specifics were.  If you can’t get forgotten information about a past job, or don’t have it, take it out of the resume.


Be aware of your body language, attitude and facial expressions:

This is one of those points that people sometimes make the most mistakes with.  An interviewer might oftentimes ask you a question that you consider to be stupid, answer it with the same expression and seriousness that you would the sensible ones.  The interviewer might be looking to see how you respond in different situations, or maybe not.  In any event, you expression will be key in how your are perceived.  Sometimes, you might find that you are smarter than the interviewer, don’t be condescending, if this person is interviewing you, it means they might have the power to turn down a possible offer to you.

Another body language to be aware of is the slump.  Sometimes you might be asked the same question over and over again by an interview panel, instead of being bored and letting your body slump, use this as a positive, take points learned from one interviewer to the next.

Never walk into the interview and assume that the person interviewing you will be a walk over, you never know, this might be the toughest interview.  I have had people leave the office after an interview cycle, and said, “I thought so and so would be a softie, but boy was he the toughest of the lot.”  Be careful with this, as you might be flippant and overly cocky with someone, thus costing yourself the position.


How familiar should you be?

I have read some articles that state you should call the interviewers by first name, as this shows that you are interested and have learned their names.  I totally disagree!  With the workplace being as multicultural and diverse as it is, this can be a mistake.  Many people don’t like familiarity this soon.  To be on the safe side, it’s best to call people by their last names, Ms. Jones or Mr Jones.  Let them ask you to call them by first name.

If there is someone you knew from another life, you can show recognition, but don’t launch into a conversation about your past association unless it is mentioned by the interviewer, and when it is, let he or she lead the conversation.

Another point is mutual colleagues, if you have mutual acquaintances in the past or present, again let the interviewer broach that subject and take the lead.  Be careful not to be lead into a negative conversation.

If the interviewers joke about a particular topic or make any comment that you deem inappropriate, don’t feel obligated to laugh or comment, just wait for the next question.


Off Limit Topics

It is always best not to discuss your private life unless the job responsibilities might conflict with family interests. If you think there is any possibility of this happening, talk to the HR person on the interview, not the hiring manager.

Never discuss politics, race, or religion, or give your personal views on any subject outside of the interview topics.

Lastly when asked why you are looking for a new position, don’t bad mouth your old company or manager.  Simply state that you are looking for new opportunities; that will always be true.


Interviewing skill is truly that, “a skill”, the more you do, the better you will become, however, no one wants to just be an expert interviewer, so improve this skill by reading, and doing mock interviews with friends as well.  Before you go to the interview, find out about the position you are interviewing for so that most of all you can be prepared.



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Get the Salary You Want Upon Hire

As a manager at a large company, I have seen many people complain that they are not making enough money, and are asking for huge increases to make up for the deficient salary request they made coming into the position.  What are the guidelines you should use when being hired and requesting a salary?


Be aware of all factors influencing salary

  1. Research the general salary range of the position for which you are applying, make sure you know how much you are worth.  Factors are typically years of experience and educational level.
  2. If you know someone on the inside ask what the salaries are to get an idea of what to ask for
  3. Know the typical salary for the region of the country in which you are living or moving to?
  4. Is the position with a private organization or with a government agency? Generally the government agencies salaries are a fraction less than the private companies
  5. Is the position an entry level one or one that requires years of experience?

Know Your Salary Bottom Line

  1. What are your financial obligations?
  2. What do you think you are worth given all the above factors?
  3. Don’t ask for the bottom of the range from the research above, this will give some room for negotiations
  4. What is your current salary?  know if you can survive with a lateral salary move, or if you need to have an increase
  5. Will it be worth your while leaving your current position if you were not offered an increase?


In the end, after doing the research and analyzing your situation, ask for the salary be want, but also be willing to negotiate within predetermined limits.  If you decide to take a salary decrease, be willing to live for some time knowing that it will take a while to get back to where you want to be, and know that your manager cannot be held responsible for the decision.  I have seen many individuals come into a position asking for less than they really want in order to secure the position, then within the first year or less, they bemoan the salary, make themselves and everyone around them miserable.  This is not the position to be in.

Know your worth, know what you want and ask for it!


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