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Stay Informed: Interview Tips and Tricks

So you’ve already put your resume out there and now you’re scheduled for an interview, and to top it off you already have that snazzy business casual outfit put together using the tips from last week’s story. That’s why you’re reading this, right?

Well, if not, these tips and tricks will help you breeze through that interview in order to make it a positive experience throughout the process from beginning to end. In my experience, as well as the feedback I’ve gotten from past interviews, these tips will make you stand out and increase your chances greatly of getting the job.

(But seriously, if you want to know how to make an impression on a potential future employer, click here for last week’s story.)

1. Before the Interview

More than likely you’ve gotten a phone call or an email that offered you an interview time (that you course you accepted!).  Once that’s out of the way, prepare yourself for the interview as much as you can. Learn about the company and make sure that if the interviewer asks you what you know, you can converse with them about the highlights of the company. Be sure to Google the most common interview questions, and prepare basic answers to prevent you from stumbling during the interview. You don’t need to script yourself, but make sure you have a few answers lined up so your reply makes coherent sense (trust me, I’ve blurted out some pretty stupid answers when I tried “winging an interview.” Don’t do that!). It’s also excellent practice to prepare some questions ahead of time. Be creative. I once landed a job all because I asked, “How did the company respond in times of economic crisis?”

Researching is key in an interview. It helps you learn about the company as well as help you gain knowledge for your interview.
Researching is key for an interview. It helps you learn about the company as well as help you gain knowledge for your interview.

2. Thank You Again and Again

This is what really sets apart the Go-Getters from the We’ll-Seers. Be a go-getter. Make sure you always have the contact information of the person that will be communicating with you throughout the process. Thank them for seeing you the day of the interview, and thank them again after the interview is concluded. Send a thank-you email after you are offered an interview and send another thank-you email immediately after the interview. Some business professionals suggest sending a thank-you no more than two days after the event, but I like to send them almost directly after the event or interview. You can never thank enough.

3. Be Professional and Respectful

It definitely pays to be formal while communicating with your contact. However, you will want to try and adjust your style with that of your contact. Not all employers are very impressed with big words or long winded emails, so if your contact isn’t very formal via communication, you don’t need to be very formal either. Just stay polite and to the point. When communicating via email, double and triple-check your spelling and grammar. If you’re communicating by phone, enunciate and speak clearly and don’t speak too fast. Don’t forget, we’re all adults here, so you don’t need a Mr./Mrs./Ms plus a last name. First names will do.

Be prompt and always make sure you follow-up with your contact.
Be prompt and always make sure you follow-up with your contact.

(If you need help wording a proper response to your contact, click here. Additional response examples are listed throughout the article. These have saved my life and have taught me a lot.)

4. Be Prompt

This pertains to everything. Respond to emails, return phone calls, etc. ASAP. If you have a smart-phone, I highly suggest making sure your emails are forwarded directly to it so you can respond on the go if you need to. When it’s time for your interview, never arrive too early or right on time. It is good to be early though, so 10 minutes prior to your scheduled time is our magic number for arrival.

5. At the Interview

You already got the interview, now it’s really time to sell yourself. Make the company want you above all others. Always shake hands, and make sure you know how to shake hands properly. Stand tall, be confident, show interest and smile a lot. Most employers will decide in the first 30 seconds whether or not they want to hire you, this is why first impressions are really important. Answer their questions honestly, but don’t talk too much. Keep them concise but make sure you answer the question in its entirety. If the employer wants to know more, they’ll ask. Try to make it feel like a natural conversation, it’s much more enjoyable this way and I feel like you learn more about each other. Don’t be overly eager to agree with everything they say. Body language is sometimes more valuable than what comes out of your mouth so look engaged instead of using words. Nod your head, keep eye contact, don’t fidget or play with your hands. Ask questions at the end that did not get answered. When the interview has concluded, shake hands again, thank them, and express interest in the position.

6. Post-Interview

For me, this was always the hardest part. Now you’re walking the razor’s edge, waiting for an email or a phone call telling you whether or not you got the job. Normally it takes about two weeks for an employer to get back to you. Don’t be afraid to check in! After the one week mark, send an email to your contact and express your interest in the position and to remind them of who you are.

Shoot for that moment when you can say...
That moment when…

7. Final Words of Advice 

While you want to do your best and appear knowledgeable, don’t try to be all things to all people. You’re not perfect and your interviewer knows that. It’s okay to not know something, just make it a point to the interviewer that you are willing to learn and do whatever it takes to become an asset to that company. Interviewing is a skill and like all skills it takes practice. Be patient and you’ll be just fine. Good luck on all your endeavors!


If you have a story idea, please submit it by tweeting @StayInformedBU or email it to StayInformedBU@yahoo.com. Remember that any selected ideas or experiences will automatically be kept anonymous unless otherwise noted.

 Stay Tuned and Stay Informed!


Lauren McCullough is currently a second-semester Junior at Bloomsburg University and is a Mass Communications & Public Relations Major and the author of the Stay Informed web-series.