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Tips on Preparing for a Successful Job Interview

Updated on September 3, 2018
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Sarah has been managing small businesses since the age of 20. In 17 years she has gained helpful insight, and many lessons along the way.

What Are Employers Looking For During an Interview?

Whether you're applying for your first job or your dream job, as employers want to get to know you! We want to meet people with energy! We want to discover honestly if you will be a good fit for our company, that you're qualified and if we will be a good fit for you. We want to experience your energy, your drive and get to know your personality. We want to learn about your relevant skills, experience. We want to witness your willingness and drive to learn and succeed. We want to know your strengths and yes even be aware of potential weaknesses. We want to learn about you so that we may discover how to work with you and provide the best training. Successful candidates show passion, personality, energy, confidence and are usually also very humble and kind.

In the past 20 years, I have conducted over 300 interviews. I used to be just as, if not more nervous than my interview candidates were. I have met some very talented people. One thing always remains the same, during my interviews my amazing hires always left an incredible impression on me in some way. I have often wondered, how many incredible people have fallen through the cracks during their interview, simply because they did not present themselves properly? This is why I have created my list below, of simple suggestions for you, to ensure that you are presenting yourself properly and have a successful interview.

"Successful candidates show passion, personality, energy, confidence, and are usually also very humble, and kind."

— Sarah Cook

It's Time to Prepare. Interview Success Tips

Preparation is key for a successful interview. I have compiled a list of suggestions to help you prepare, with key points to follow to ensure you successfully present yourself. Some may seem like common sense, but you would be surprised how many candidates I have met that have not taken the time to follow even basic preparation. I suggest even printing this page and going through it before you attend your interview.

  • Clothing Attire. Wear clothing appropriate for the position your applying for. This will be your very first impression. Make sure your hair is tidy, facial hair trimmed. fingernails, clothes and shoes clean. Avoid heavy perfumes, loads of makeup, and clothing not appropriate for the workplace. (Such as wearing pants below your butt, or low cut tops)
  • Punctuality. Arrive 5 - 10 minutes early for your interview. Punctuality shows good work ethic and is simply good manners. Showing up late conveys disrespect and lack of motivation.
  • Research The Company. Learn about the companies products and or services that they provide. Explore the history of the company, their morals and company vision. While your learning, get excited about joining their team and growing with them. Memorize key points about their successes. This will show your potential employer that you are invested, and passionate.
  • Show Up With Energy. Speak clearly and with passion. Be honest, be yourself and let your personality shine. Be proud of who you are, your skills, your accomplishments, yet be humble and eager to learn more. Be aware of your body language and posture. Stand or sit up straight, avoid leaning, or wiggling in your chair. Maintain eye contact when speaking and with whoever is speaking to you. Nod or acknowledge when you agree. Be involved. Offer a firm handshake during introductions and when your interview is complete. Always smile and look pleasant.
  • Be Prepared. Many interviews consist of the same or similar questions. These questions may put you in an awkward position if you're unprepared. It's important to consider these questions and prepare your answers ahead of time. This will allow you the opportunity to shine in confidence. Check out the link I have provided, with commonly asked questions to help you prepare answers using keywords and phrases. Get ready for success!
  • Introductions. The best advice I can give you would be to watch this video on handshakes and introduction etiquette and to follow the advice given. It's important not to underestimate the influence of your first impression. I interviewed a gentleman once and I thought he broke my hand. While shaking my hand, he squeezed so hard he crushed my hand. I could barely use my hand for 10 days. It was horribly painful and during the interview, the pain I was experiencing, left me unable to focus on his interview. On the other hand, (no pun intended) when someone hands me a wet noodle handshake, it seems unprofessional and unconfident. A proper handshake is a meaningful first impression. It shows maturity and respect.
  • Verbal Conduct. This is more of a warning. Never speak negatively about a previous workplace or employer. In general, don’t be negative about anything. Speaking negatively for me as an employer, shows poor attitude, lack of self-discipline and the potential for drama and conflict. Simply don't do it. I am always shocked by the number of people I interview, who seem like they were just waiting for an opportunity to throw a previous employer or company under the bus. It's very unprofessional.

Following these simple guidelines will leave you prepared and ready for a successful interview.

Follow Your Passions, Find Success!

In all of my year's experience of working with different people, my top employees left a lasting impression on me by sharing their passion, energy and integrity, with our company. These amazing team members, love what they do. I work in a large pizza franchise. Our positions are often first jobs, while students go through school or a career for those who love the food industry and want to become future franchisees. What sets them apart, is the passion they put into whatever they are doing. They are making a difference every day in any small or big way. Learning and honing skill sets and bringing to the table, their amazing personalities and gifts.

Whatever job you're interviewing for, bring your best foot forward. Ensure for yourself and your future employer, that you're passionate and willing to experience growth. Be yourself and like yourself. Be humble and kind. Work hard, with energy and creative passion. Behave with integrity. If you bring these characteristics to the table with you, and the necessary skill set, you will leave a lasting impression and have a successful interview. I wish you all the best in your upcoming interview! I welcome your comments or questions below! For more helpful business insights, please follow me on hubs!

© 2018 Sarah Cook


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