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What To Expect During A Job Interview

Updated on February 27, 2016
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Job Interviews

The reality of the workforce today is if you do not make an impact during your interview, you will not get a call back! Learn how to optimize simple ways to make a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Have you ever wondered why you never seem to get a call back? Ever left an interview knowing you did not get the job? In this article we will cover simple items often over looked by people on job interviews.

Simple ways to make a lasting impression and remain at the top of the pile of qualified applicants!

How Important Are First Impressions During A Job Interview

You may not realize how important a first impression is in the workforce. Within the first 30 seconds a prospective employer has already obtained his or her impression of you.

I have done interviews for multiple companies throughout my lengthy career in business management. Many key items to an interview remain the same between them all, these key items are often simple things you would never think of, and often do not pertain to the position you are applying for at all.

Always keep in mind that you never get a second chance at a first impression!

Introduce your self with a handshake and smile, this is basic etiquette for any introduction, not just an interview!

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Dress for success

Dockers Men's Classic Fit Signature Khaki Pant - Flat Front D3, Dark Khaki (Cotton)-Discontinued, 36W x 32L
Dockers Men's Classic Fit Signature Khaki Pant - Flat Front D3, Dark Khaki (Cotton)-Discontinued, 36W x 32L

Personal attire is key to making an impression! At the very least you should be wearing khakis to an interview if you want to be taken seriously!

 

How Should I Dress For A Job Interview

One of the key points I was always asked to evaluate during a job interview, was personal attire. Even in my early days working at, and managing a gas station, I had to look at how an applicant was dressed for the interview, and make notes about it.

It was not uncommon throughout my career, for someone to land in the dusty pile of "no job offer extended", simply because of what they were wearing during the job interview. I know many of you are thinking "that's nuts", while I can see how you would think that - let me explain it from a businesses point of view.

If someone shows up for an interview and is poorly dressed, inappropriately dressed, unclean, unkempt etc, would you want them promoting your business or product to the general public? Absolutely not, it boils down to common sense, if you are well kept and at the very least dressed in business casual attire or even better business attire during a job interview, you will do well in being a promoter for the business or product without distracting potential customers with your appearance.

Make sure that you are at the very least dressed in business casual attire for a job interview, even if the position you applied for will have you dressed in casual clothes. Even if you have applied for an entry level position that will not require you to dress in business casual attire on a daily basis, it is never acceptable to show up in jeans and a t-shirts to a job interview.

For men an example of acceptable business casual attire for a job interview would be, khakis or dress pants and a button down long sleeve shirt.

Ladies you have more options when it comes to business casual attire for a job interview, dress pants, khakis, or a skirt that is no shorter than knee length and a solid color (patterns can be distracting) along with a conservative Blouse or button down are all very good options. Going the extra mile with a simple business suit can only improve your odds of success and creating a good lasting impression during a job interview.

Dressing in a professional manner during a job interview, gives a prospective employer the peace of mind that you are professional in all aspects of your life.

Limiting the amount of perfume or cologne you wear to a job interview is best, not everyone likes the same scents as you and some people have severe allergies to fragrance. An interviewer may rush through a job interview with an applicant if cologne or perfume is over powering or offensive.

Making Eye Contact During A Job Interview

Eye contact during a job interview is imperative to your success!
Eye contact during a job interview is imperative to your success! | Source

How important Is Eye Contact During A Job Interview

The second most important element during a job interview is eye contact. If an applicant maintains eye contact during a job interview, it shows confidence to a prospective employer. Eye contact is very important during a job interview, the more you maintain eye contact the more an employer feels you are being honest and confident with the answers you provide to the interview questions. It also helps an interviewer feel more comfortable with an applicant during the process of the job interview.

It is extremely important to maintain eye contact at all times throughout the job interview process. Maintaining eye contact during a job interview, can make you stand out above the other applicants they have interviewe who have appeared less confident. It is likely for any one specific job opening, anywhere from 50-hundreds of interviews are being conducted for that position.

If you do not maintain eye contact you will fizzle into the background of the interviewers mind with everyone else, who appeared to be lacking confidence.

During job interviews you should always introduce yourself with a firm handshake.
During job interviews you should always introduce yourself with a firm handshake. | Source

Answering Questions During A Job Interview

During the questions related to your qualifications, background, and references never pause, or stumble, this shows that you are unprepared for the job interview, or are trying to make answers up on the fly. Pausing and stumbling during a job interview will make both you and the person conducting the job interview feel awkward, and it shows a lack of confidence and preparation on your part.

As an interviewer I always hated that gauging a pause, or stumble as a lack of confidence or preparation was so widely the norm. My personal feeling is, if you have all the answers you are most likely a "job hopper" (never staying employed for a length of time), so for me a pause was not so much lack of confidence or preparation, not being a CEO, that decision wasn't mine.

Always do a faux job interview at home, have family member or friend help if you can. Try to think of everything you could possibly be asked during a job interview. Not all questions during a job interview are directly related to the position, keep this in mind, and compile a list of questions, and prepare answers.

You can be asked many questions during a job interview, some about possible scenarios directly related to the position, and many completely hypothetical situations that have absolutely nothing to do with the position you have applied for. Many interviewers will ask questions about your leadership abilities, and how you deal with stress, deadlines and job related pressures such as time management and multitasking. Be prepared to have an answer for everything, at least a general answer so you can limit the amount fast thinking you have to do during a job interview. Many long pauses during the job interview, can be a tipping point, and ultimately land you in a "no call back" pile, even if you are completely qualified for the position. Even worse is the dreaded "uh" or "umm" do your best to avoid inserting either in place of a pause, in this instance a pause is best, saying "umm" brings your ability to communicate during social situations into question.

Keep answers short and simple during a job interview, no interviewer wants long winded responses, eating up valuable tme. They have time constraints and a life outside of work too, and you are not the only applicant they have to interview. Be honest and to the point without adding any unneeded information, during the job interview process.

What To Avoid During A Job Interview

In many cases interviewers are bound by strict laws regarding questions they can not legally ask anyone during a job interview. Some general examples are, whether or not you have children, and proper day care, if you have a car and so on.

An interviewer will absolutely ask "leading" questions to try and answer those questions without actually asking them. I have personally attended hours of training on interviewing skills focused around asking "leading" questions.They may simply ask if transportation will be an issue, I suggest keeping your answers to these questions very simple and yes or no, leaving no room for speculation. You should never offer any information of a personal nature during a job interview, while it is not supposed to factor into your worthiness for hire, it may very well hinder a job offer.

Many companies think that those with families may be inclined to miss more work than those who are single, or without family obligations. I am not saying be dishonest with responses during a job Interview, just do not respond to any leading questions about your personal life. If you are asked if you are a family man, say yes and leave it at that. Interviewing proffesionals, may try to lead you to admitting absenteeism relating to caring for children that are ill.

If you have a gap in your employment history, be prepared to answer the reasons behind the gap during a job interview. If you took time off for the birth of a child and raising your child for the first few years, list this on your resume, avoid making it appear cutesy, but include the skills used and what you accomplished; such as routine house chores, multitasking, anything related to organizational skills and time management. Also list any fundraising you did during this time or volunteering, all these will help better improve the odds of the "gap" being over looked. Always have a response ready and avoid saying "I wasn't working" to explain the gab during a job interview. The interviewer will use this information to gauge if extending you a job offer is a risk or not, not all people are great employees and sometimes abandon the workforce for years at a time only returning when seeking a paycheck not a career. Keep that in mind when you work on your answers for the practice job interview.

Leave The Cell In The Car

Cellphones and interviews do not mix.
Cellphones and interviews do not mix. | Source

Stop Using Cell Phones At Job Interviews

It is not uncommon for a job interview to be scheduled fifteen minutes prior to the actual time they intend to start conducting the interview. Often this is used as a tool for observing the job applicants ability to handle waiting and stress. It is very common that most prospective employers look for you to be a little early to the job interview as well, being 5 minutes early is great and shows the ability to be consistently on time, anything more and it will seem like you have no respect for the interviewers time.

Cell phone use is just down right rude and unprofessional during a job interview. If the phone would happen to ring during your interview, it shows a major lack of respect for the interviewers time and the job interview process. This could potentially cost you a job offer, leaving your cell phone in the car during a job interview is the best choice.

I can not stress enough the point of not taking your cell phone into the job interview enough, I know its tempting to take in your cell and play games, get on social media or even check your email while you wait. From a prospective employers professional point of view, it looks bad. A prospetive employer will think you would be using your phone during downtime at work, instead of focusing on building a successful career.

Instead of using the down time to benefit the company by getting extra work done, or catching up on your paperwork, it is a fair assumption that you will be posting social media or surfing the web.

It is always in an applicants best interest to leave your cell or tablet in your car, while attending a job interview. If you are waiting sit calmly, do not bounce your leg or tap a pen, and act as if nothing is bothering you and the wait is normal. If there are other applicants waiting it is acceptable to strike up a conversation, a professional conversation is best, and avoid using slang, or "street phrases". Striking up a professional conversation can show that you have an ability to adapt to stressful situations as well as showing good leadership skills.

What To Do Before Leaving A Job Interview

It is always important to ask a few questions about the company you are applying for a position with, prior to exiting the job interview. How many employees they have, are they global, what are the benefits of the position you applied for, how long has the company been in business. Always make a point to ask the expected salary of the position you have applied for, and look up the average pay scale for the position in your area too. You can Google "average pay of (insert job title), and your location", this will bring up statistical data for the base pay of the position in a specific region or state.

Arming yourself with knowledge of the average pay rate can keep you from accepting a position at a below average salary.

Before you leave make sure to thank your interviewer for their time, a handshake is perfectly appropriate and often expected too. Time is a precious commodity in any profession, letting an interviewer know you appreciated the time taken is always a good move.


Always dress for success.
Always dress for success. | Source

Top Job Interview Tips

  • Always introduce yourself with a firm handshake.
  • Dress at the very least in an appropriate business casual attire, even for entry level positions!
  • Maintain eye contact during the entire job interview.
  • Avoid pausing when answering questions, never say "umm" or "uh" during a job interview!
  • Never bring a cell phone into the jon interview, it is best to leave it in your vehicle.
  • Before leaving make sure to ask any questions you have about the position, and company, this shows your willingness to learn about the company, and your eagerness in obtaining the job.
  • When leaving make sure to thank the interviewer for their time and consideration, and shake hands again.

Interviewing etiquette

Is it acceptable to take my cell phone to an interview

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Job offer, knowledge is power.

As an applicant for a job, you must always read the fine print of a job offer.
As an applicant for a job, you must always read the fine print of a job offer. | Source

After A Job Interview, What To Do Before You Accept A Job Offer

You may be in a hurry to accept a job for many reasons, desperately needing the income, or desperately wanting to change careers and so on. I would like to point out that you need to read every detail of any job offer you are extended prior to accepting it. You should never sign an agreement for employment, without reading and fully understanding the position, the benefits and the pay scale, and any "fine print" clauses that are within the contract.

I have seen many overzealous applicants sign an employment agreement only to be sadly disappointing that they were not making the salary they expected, and often less than the average salary for the position. In some cases, making less than some of the employees they were hired to supervise. Without looking into what is being offered and signing off on the job offer or contract blindly they were stuck, with no way to ask for a better salary, often making less than what they were worth to an employer. This is why above all else, read the agreement, a prospective employer extending a job offer will not scoff at your choice to give the contract a once over.

You are well within your rights to request a day to go over your job offer before accepting, taking longer could cost you the job depending on the need of a company to fill the position.

Read every detail. I also suggest looking into the average pay for that position in your area, as I stated above, you can do this simply by typing into your search engine and it will pull statistics for you based on the position and area you enter.

You can negotiate the terms of the job offer, all the employer can do is say "we are not prepared to offer that salary for this particular position at this time". At that point it would be up to you as to accept the job offer or decline, perhaps negotiate a time to revisit and reevaluate the salary after a satisfactory time frame of employment in the position.

I really can not stress this point enough, many items will factor into the job being a good fit for you and your particular lifestyle, these are points that you need to deliberate while making a decision. Is the need to travel part of the job, if so does the company pay travel expenses? If so do they cover travel expenses up fron, or do you submit to be reimbursed later, what is covered, meals, hotel, fuel or mileage? Having to cover expenses out of pocket and wait for reimbursement, can be a big hardship when you are first starting out. What are the benefits, do they start from day one, or do you have to wait till you have been with the company for "X" amount of time before they kick in. Do you need to carry additional insurance on your vehicle if using it for work, or does the company cover this expense?

Never be afraid to ask these questions at the end of your interview, this will help the interviewer to gauge that you in fact have a genuine interest in the job you are applying for, rather than just wanting a paycheck in general. I also suggest asking if the company offers severance package in the event that corporate dowsing makes your position obsolete. This little bit of knowledge will help you in the long run, you will be able to work towards saving a nest egg in the event that you may be laid off, or worst case terminated.

Test your interviewing knowledge


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Good luck! Job interviews can be stressful, I hope that I have shed some light from an interviewers point of view!
Good luck! Job interviews can be stressful, I hope that I have shed some light from an interviewers point of view! | Source

Job Interview Success Tip

Here I want to touch on the importance of the education portion of an application or resume. If you have only taken a few college courses it is really important that you still include this on a resume or application. Most employers will hire someone with a college degree, or at least some additional continued education after High School - even without a degree.

In my time as a interviewer, if two equally qualified applicants were interviewed, the decision would be made based on both applicants level of education. So even a few courses taken at a community college can greatly impact the decision to extend you a job offer, even if they were in a completely unrelated field.

If applicant "A" were completely qualified for the position but lacked any additional education after high school; and applicant "B" had attended community college for a semester or less, more often than not applicant "B" received the job simply because of the additional education.

Even if you took a vocational course that has absolutely nothing to do with the job that you are applying for, it is still in your best interest to include your certification on any application or resume, it may very well land you the job!

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    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 20 months ago

      Thanks Cynthia, It is very true that during an interview first impression is the last impression. Most of the interviews are done in first 2 minutes and later is for deep skill & professional behavior.

    • Cynthia Hoover profile image
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      Cynthia Hoover 20 months ago from Newton, West Virginia

      Thank you dhimanreena for taking the time to comment. I concur that within the first two minutes the actual interview is done, and often a final decision is already made - even though the interview may continue.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 8 months ago from Essex, UK

      Good comprehensive review of interviews and how to master them, covering the major points and explaining the reasoning behind your advice. Much of it is, as you indicate, common sense, yet is still ignored by too many interviewees!

      There are a couple of points I would contribute. Personally I would not be put off employing someone by a degree of hesitation or apparent lack of confidence in their interview. Hesitation and pauses can indicate careful consideration of a question, rather than a cliched, stock reply. And whilst a degree of self-confidence is very important, over confidence may be seen as arrogance and a potential recklessness in decision making.

      In some businesses in the UK, there seems to be too much reliance these days on a clinical points-based scoring of candidates' answers to questions. This is to avoid litigation by anyone of a minority group who feels they have been unfairly discriminated against in an interview. The problem with that is that candidates may be appointed on the basis of their ability to give the official 'correct' answer to a question, rather than on the interviewers' judgement of character, personality, dedication, intelligence etc. This applies even with 'in-house' appointments, where two candidates may be assessed solely on the basis of who gives the 'correct' answers in a 30 minute interview, rather on the interviewers' knowledge of their work practice and strengths and weaknesses - an intimate knowledge which may extend back over many years, but which is largely ignored in the interview.

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