Strategies for Successful Interviewing

The impression you make on an interviewer is critical. These suggestions will help you create the strongest and most positive image of yourself as a job candidate.

  • Arrive 10-15 minutes before the interview appropriately dressed, well groomed, poised, and friendly.
  • Present yourself as a personable, professional woman. Be aware of your appearance and demeanor; they are an interviewer's first clues to your competence. Your vocabulary, phrasing, and voice tone should project confidence, interest, and enthusiasm, as well as clarity and professionalism. Eye contact, facial expressions, body posture, and gestures are important indicators; each will impart specific information about you to the interviewer. Look at the interviewer when she or he is speaking, less often when you are speaking. Periodic eye contact is important, but look elsewhere from time to time. Avoid extreme behavior like never looking at the interviewer at all or never looking away.
  • Anticipate the questions an employer might ask. Prepare your responses to these in advance.
  • Listen carefully to each question you are asked and then answer it directly. Don't be tempted to answer if you don't fully understand the question; ask for a restatement or clarification. Give concise answers. At the same time, avoid monosyllabic responses. Provide specific and concrete examples rather than generalities.
  • Speak clearly, and make uncluttered, relaxed statements. The silence of a pause can be very positive and powerful. Avoid filling what you may feel is an uncomfortable silence with "you know" or "uh."
  • Observe the interviewer. This will give you valuable clues about that person and her or his company.
  • Show enthusiasm and interest about the company and the position for which you are interviewing.
  • Speak affirmatively about yourself, your past experiences, your present interests, and your career goals. Demonstrate not only what you have done, but also how well you have done it and what you have learned. Have specific examples ready to illustrate your competence. Do not be afraid to speak forthrightly about your accomplishments and strengths.
  • You do not need to offer information about what you perceive to be areas of weakness or about past negative employment experiences. If asked a question of this nature, however, answer it directly, in a brief, non-defensive manner. It helps to prepare and practice in advance your responses to any sensitive questions. Always try to end an answer about a weakness or mistake on a positive note by talking about what you are doing to improve or how you learned from a difficult experience.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume. In some fields, such as art, it is appropriate to bring a portfolio to illustrate your talents. It is also acceptable to bring a briefcase or purse into your interview. Leave other items behind.
  • Even when you are not engaged in a "formal" interview session, remember that how you act and what you say, whether it is over a meal or at a cocktail party, will be used to evaluate your candidacy.
  • Be prepared for broad and open-ended opening questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” or “What brings you here.”  Your answer should be focused and include the key elements of your interview strategy.  Try not to ramble or include many irrelevant pieces of information about your past.

  • Make an effort to reduce or eliminate use of filler words such as “like,” “you know,” and “sort of” from your speech.  Using filler words detracts from what you are trying to say.