SOKY Jobs Toolbox: Nailing the Interview

I was the Office Manager for the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce for nearly 10 years. One of my main responsibilities was interviewing potential candidates for open positions. I would post jobs, receive all the applications, screen resumes, and narrow the pool down to the top candidates before turning them over to executive leadership. My experience has taught me a few things, and today I am excited to share my knowledge with you! I hope you gain some clarity and encouragement along the way.

Interview Tip #1 – It starts in the lobby.

Yes, while you’re waiting for your interview someone is sizing you up. The receptionist is watching you. Other employees are walking by. The interview starts in the lobby. Be friendly and courteous to whoever greets you. If they give a bad report to upper management, your consideration has come to an end.

Interview Tip #2 – Interview the company.

Before you step foot in an interview, research the company online. You don’t want to go into an interview asking them what their company does. How could you possibly be serious about working at a company if you don’t know what they do? Show the employer that you really want this job by coming prepared with educated questions.

An interview is also an excellent opportunity for you to find out if you even want to work at this company. Be prepared with questions you have about working there. No, I am not referring to how much vacation time you get or the salary. Be prepared with real questions about the work environment, the atmosphere in the office or on the floor, and employee training programs. Ask about what you care about. There are tons of jobs out there, so make sure that the company is a good fit for you! Otherwise you’re going to be doing this whole process again in six months.

Interview Tip #3 – Dress for the job you want not the job you have.

The first question when you go to an interview is always what to wear. A good rule of thumb is to dress like you would if you already had the job. Maybe jeans and a polo are okay at your current job, but that’s not the case everywhere. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. Here are some good rules of thumb no matter what job you are interviewing for:

  1. Good hygiene. You would think this is an obvious one, but I have interviewed a lot of people, and you think wrong. You don’t have to go in there slathered with Giorgio Armani either. You want them to think of you after the interview, but not because your smell is lingering…trust me.
  2. Be well-groomed. Men, trim your beard. Get a haircut. Ladies, file your nails. Wear tasteful makeup. First impressions aren’t everything, but they do matter.
  3. Have nice breath. Eat a mint before your interview. (Please do not be chomping gum during it, though!) Nothing is worse than having to talk to someone with questionable breath for 20 minutes.
  4. Dress up. Avoid jeans, leggings as pants, tight clothing, and anything worn or ragged. Again, overdressed is always better than underdressed. Dress modestly. Make sure your apparel is tasteful.
  5. Wear appropriate shoes. Yes, shoes matter. Do not wear flip flops or tennis shoes. (Dressy sandals are okay for women depending on the job environment and time of year.)
  6. Piercings. Many places do not care about piercings, but to be safe, you may want to remove any facial piercings or exposed body piercings until you are sure of the dress code at an organization.

Interview Tip #4 – Use your soft skills.

Not sure what soft skills are? This is as simple as being five minutes early, a firm handshake, looking a person in the eye, sitting up in your seat, talking slowly and clearly, etc. You may think you are good at these things, but ask a friend. Practice on your spouse. Be ready to show the interviewer from the moment they shake your hand that you are about to exceed their expectations.


Interview Tip #5 – Be careful not to overshare.

Did you know there are many personal topics that employers are not even allowed to ask? A few examples are age, religion, marital status, medical conditions (i.e. pregnancy status or disability), etc. They can’t ask these things for a reason, so don’t feel the need to share them.

When an employer asks you to tell them about yourself, they are referring to your work history and experience. This is not an opportunity to tell them where you’re from or how many pets you have. Stick to the topic at hand and avoid oversharing. Employers are interviewing you to find out about your work history and how your personality would fit in their team, so keep that in mind as you respond to their questions.

Interview Tip #6 – It’s okay to brag a little.

In an interview, it’s okay to brag on yourself. You are worthy of this job. That’s why you got this interview in the first place. Tell them why, but do so with the utmost humility. Go into the interview with 3-5 positive characteristics you can bring to their team. If you can’t think of any, ask a coworker or friend. You want to be prepared to tell them how you can use those characteristics to better their company.

On the flip side, they will probably ask you one characteristic you can improve on. Think of what that could be. Start working on it now, and you can tell them you’re already working on it. An employer loves a person who is constantly trying to improve themselves. Be that person.

Bring them a copy of your resume. Sure, they may already have one, but that’s okay. If there will be multiple people interviewing you, bring them each one. This is a quick way to show employers that you are prepared and forward thinking. If you do not have a resume, click here.

Interview Tip #7 – Be thankful.

Before and after the interview, thank the interviewer for taking the time to consider you. Let them know that you are grateful and hopeful for this opportunity. After the interview, you can send them an email or a card thanking them again and emphasizing again your interest in the position. Thankfulness goes a long way!

I hope you found these interview tips helpful. While interviews can be stressful, know this: the same God who created the heavens and the earth created you. He loves you and has an incredible plan for your life.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. -Ephesians 2:10

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