Interview Tips: Do This, DON’T Do That

You’ve spent days applying and sent in what feels like a thousand resumes. And now you finally have an interview. This is when the nerves start kicking in. What should you say? What should you wear? Do you know anything about the industry?

We’re here to help. Review this list of dos and don’ts to ace that next interview!


Dress for the Job You Want

That’s right, we’re back to that old cliché. But, there’s a reason people say it so often. This interview might be your only chance to make a lasting impression on a potential employer. You never get a second first impression. And if you do get the job, do you want to be seen as a regular employee or a candidate for promotion? Hopefully the latter. So dress like it!

Also, make sure to:

  • Get a haircut (if needed)
  • Trim your nails
  • Take a shower that morning.
  • Try to avoid any strong-smelling colognes, perfumes, body washes, or deodorants.

You don’t want anything to distract the interviewer from why you’re right for the job!

Learn Interview Etiquette

How’s your handshake? Everything goes back to making that immediate, lasting impression. If you give a puny handshake, you seem weak. If you give an overly strong handshake, you come off as aggressive. It’s getting to that happy medium that’s difficult.

The same thing applies to eye contact. You don’t want to stare into the interviewer’s eyes for a straight hour, but also don’t want stare at a corner of the room or look out the window. Be attentive and go for a balance between the two extremes.

How can you practice your handshake or eye contact? And, for that matter, how do you know if you have a good handshake? Join a local professional group!

  • Ask other members to practice interview techniques with you. These groups exist to help people master the fine art of business etiquette.
  • Even if the organiztion you’re interviewing with doesn’t have a traditional office setting, these groups can teach lessons applicable to all workplaces.
  • Mock interviews are especially helpful to highlight any flaws in your technique.

Always Have Questions Prepared

The the first thing you should do after scheduling an interview is research the company’s history, values, and culture. You want to make sure you fit in—and mentioning the company’s mission statement and how that applies to you is always a good start.

However, you also need to come prepared with questions. The more specific and tailored to the company, the better. Ask about:

  • The job and potential future responsibilities.
  • The work environment and culture. For example, asking the interviewer why they like working at the company shows you’re interested in the people and culture, not just climbing the company ladder.


Follow-ups matter. Start writing a handwritten thank-you note immediately when you get home. Bring up a few things you learned in the interview, and send it off as soon as possible. When the applicant pool for a certain job is especially competitive, this helps you stand out. If you’re unable to send out a handwritten note, send a personalized email.


Be Late

Remember that whole bit about leaving a good first impression? If you’re late to the interview, you’ve already shot yourself in the foot. In the interviewer’s eyes, if an applicant can’t make it to the interview on time, they simply don’t want the job enough.

Be early. It’s much better for you, as an applicant, to wait on the interviewer, rather than the other way around. Just don’t arrive too early—ten minutes or so should be fine.

Talk Too Much … Or Too Little

Interviews can be nerve-wracking, and some applicants find themselves rambling just to move the discussion along. If you take up your interviewer’s time with long descriptions of achievements, you’re preventing the interviewer from asking questions they want to ask.

But don’t make your responses too short either. Remember, it’s all about balance. Avoid giving one word (or, in some cases, one sentence, answers). When asked about what it was like working at “such-and-such” company, don’t respond with “great.” Your response should be about what you learned from working at a specific company with its own culture, values, and people.

Complain About Your Last Boss

This can be tempting—especially if you were fired or let go from a previous position. Who wouldn’t want to vent about their awful boss when someone specifically asks about their time at that company? However, complaining about anyone in an interview is the hallmark of an unprofessional employee. So come prepared to answer a question specifically addressing past negative experiences.

Bring Up Controversial Topics

Interviews are about showing the interviewer why you’re a perfect fit for the job. They are not a place to discuss religion, politics, and other hot-button topics. No matter how informal the style of the interview, it’s still an interview.


Most industries are fairly closely knit. Odds are the interviewer knows somebody who knows somebody else that is a best friend of a previous boss. So, don’t lie. Even if your industry isn’t closely knit, lying always comes back to bite you.

Go For It

In the end, you can only do so much preparation. When you’re ready, you’re ready. After that, it’s all about balance and confidence. Walk in with your head held high and knock that interview out of the park!

Have you ever had a bad interview experience? What did you learn? Let us know in the comments below!





    1. Laura

      I have the same issue, Gary. It is what it is. As we approach a “certain age” we will look older, regardless of all the tricks out there to make us ”look younger”. You just can’t hide certain facial and physical features, or even attitudes that come with your (I’m assuming also my) generation. There ARE some companies out there that actually appreciate more experienced workers, that being said, think objectively about your appearance and do everything you can to update your look. Good Luck!

      1. Barbara Carrera

        Slowly, but surely though, I believe that companies are starting to see that in general younger employees are not as reliable as older ones. Older ones have more work and life experience, can be counted on more to arrive on time and to stay. This is a generalization but as much as older people are subtly or blatantly discriminated against, employers are beginning to see the advantages of going older than very young. I might be mistaken, but I have conducted enough interviews with company owners to see this trend. In addition, many older people are using hidden cameras to video or audio record questions with interviewers, and are coming back to verify who was hired and how the experience between the two compare.

  1. shelby

    Worked with an employment agency (not yours) and made a series of edits to my resume. The agent sent over my resume (the wrong one) and when I went to the interview, I relied on the agent’s version of my resume. It was the original with formatting errors, etc. They questioned me about the resume. Lesson: Always review your resume before you go to the interview and bring it yourself!!! Bring a few copies.

    1. Sonia

      Yeah. I started working in the public sector two weeks ago, “on call”, but steady work. I’ve interviewed several times for a permanent postion…so far, “Nothing”

  2. Kris

    I have always worn a suit to an interview but I’ve put on a few pounds and my suit is not flattering. You cannot find a woman’s suit anywhere any more. Are slacks and a blouse appropriate?

  3. Anthony

    People come to their own conclusions, and decide very quickly if they “like & trust ” this person. Who would hire someone they don’t like. If they dont like you, finding a disqualifeir is the easy part.

  4. frank

    i am disabled i seams that every time i go for an interview the person does not call or respond he know that i have a disability

  5. Jimmy Peterson

    For me, interviewing comes easy. I am a baby boomer, but I have a high degree of knowledge of computers and their peripherals. I am military trained and respect diversity and encourage change management which are in-demand soft skills. I am exceptional in the knowledge of body language, social styles, research, and emotional intelligence. I dress for the job I am interviewing for and speak in clear and direct sentences. I can read the room and interview based on the atmosphere of the interview. But, I am always told, “you were our second choice.”

    I am sure their first choice was younger and perhaps more attractive than I. I have a the KSA’s that the company is looking for and require less training and more loyalty, and yet they will decide to go with the person that is going to taking all the companies training budget with them to another company. In most cases, in less than a year.

    A lot of it comes down to fear. The hiring manager/recruiter is young and is afraid you will take their job, or worse, make them look bad at theirs.

    My thoughts as a HR professional.

    1. Sandy

      I have the same problem. I dress very well for the interview.The interview goes well. I connect with the interviewer. Have the KSA.s they claim to be looking for. Have even been told multiple times that I interview well. Passed any ‘tests’ they give with flying colors along with comments I do better than most.
      Still no offers and I know it’s because I have passed the 50 mark.
      Not sure what else I can do!

    2. Barbara Carrera

      I agree with you. I have seen that if the HR recruiter is younger and feels that you might be a “threat”, sadly, he or she may opt for another choice. Personal opinion.

  6. frank

    i have three or four resumes one is in text format three in word one with dates two with out always ask in what format they want it also i have refrernses in x-l spreed sheet these are on a thumb drive

  7. Jennifer

    Weirdest interview question ever: If you were a road sign, what would you be?

    The only pictures in my mind were bright orange road construction signs “SLOW” and the cover of that Bon Jovi album (so not appropriate – and showing my age 🙂

    I fumbled out something about “Well, it’s not ‘Stop’ . . . but it was an incredibly awkward silence that I didn’t really recover from. Lesson learned: expect the unexpected!

  8. EO

    For those of you in the over X age, remember that you have a lot of things to offer inexperienced people don’t. Think about the key reasons you are better for this job and point them out. You have greater attention to detail, you don’t look for shortcuts that compromise quality, you think about how a mistake could negatively affect your company, you don’t call out sick to go see a new Marvel movie Premier, etc. Also don’t have the please hire me puppy look in your eyes. Never let desperation show, it diminishes your value. I’d say address the elephant in the room _ “at my age, I’ve shown I can , … fill in all the things you do better… If you can’t think of any maybe you are not the best person for this job.

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