Interviewing

Job Interview Do's and Don'ts

February 11, 2020

Performing well in an interview can increase your chance of receiving a job offer. Knowing what to do and what not to do can be the difference between receiving a job offer and losing an opportunity. Hiring managers and committees can tell when you are well-prepared for an interview. These tips will help you know what to expect during job interviews and how to impress potential employers.

Interview do’s and don’ts

Follow these guidelines when preparing for your interview:

  1. Resume and application
  2. Interview preparation
  3. Appearance and demeanor
  4. Interview format
  5. Interview questions
  6. Questions for the interviewer
  7. Questions about your current or previous employers

1. Resume and application

Do: Provide accurate information on your resume and application. Make sure your details are current and offer the most relevant, impactful information related to the role. It can be helpful to tailor your resume and cover letter for each position you apply to so it is relevant for each individual employer. As interviewers often refer to your resume during the interview, make sure you review your most current copy to ensure it contains accurate information.

Resume Format

Don’t: Send in a resume longer than two pages. Hiring managers and recruiters may review hundreds of resumes for each open position, so a short resume ensures they can read it easily. Instead of writing all your roles and responsibilities, include the impact you made at your last or current organization with numbers. For example, “Implemented new project review process resulting in a 20% increase in project completion rates across the organization.”

2. Interview preparation

Do: Prepare for the interview at minimum the night before. Make a checklist of what you’ll need to take with you, and make sure you have directions to the interview site. Choose your interview outfit in advance and make sure it is clean and ironed, if necessary. Outline your answers to common interview questions. Print out at least five hard copies of your resume in case your interviewers don’t have their own.

Don’t: Wait until the morning of an interview to gather your materials. Unexpected difficulties could easily make you late for your interview, which could impact the hiring manager’s first impression of you. You should plan enough time to arrive at the interview location at least 10 minutes early. Avoid memorizing your exact answers to interview questions, which can make you nervous and stumble over words. Instead, remember key points you want to convey.

Related: What to Wear to a Job Interview

3. Appearance and demeanor

Do: Present a tidy and confident appearance. Wear a simple, comfortable outfit that allows you and the hiring manager to remain focused on the interview. You should sit straight up with your shoulders back to display confidence. Maintaining eye contact and smiling let the interviewer know you’re interested in the conversation. 

Don’t: Wear bold clothing or strong perfume, as they can be distracting. Also, make sure you get plenty of rest the night before an interview to ensure you are alert and focused. 

Related: 21 Job Interview Tips: How to Make a Great Impression

4. Interview format

Do: Ensure you know the type of interview to expect. Hiring events and open interviews are typically conducted more informally than individual interviews. You may also take part in a working interview in which you’ll perform specific tasks related to the role under the hiring manager’s observance. It can be helpful to prepare the right materials and information for the specific interview format. 

Don’t: Go to an interview unprepared. If you plan to go to a hiring event or open interview, make sure you bring several copies of your resume to hand out to different employers. When you confirm an interview, ask the recruiter about the format so you can develop a plan in advance. 

Related: Guide: How to Succeed at a Hiring Event or Open Interview

5. Interview questions

Do: Prepare for typical interview questions by practicing your answers. Rehearsing responses will help any anxiety or nervousness you might experience before your interview. When you practice your answers, you’ll be more focused on giving clear and direct responses that could impress hiring managers. 

Practicing in front of a mirror will help you be more aware of your facial expressions and body language, both of which are very important for a successful interview. If possible, ask a trusted friend or colleague to act as your interviewer. They should be able to offer you constructive feedback about your answers. 

Don’t: Offer unnecessary details. The interviewer wants to get to know you, but sharing long stories or irrelevant information can distract from your qualifications. Offer concise answers that relate to the role and company. 

6. Questions for the interviewer

Do: Ask relevant questions. Coming prepared with your own questions shows you’re interested in the company and you performed research before the interview. Be sure that the questions you ask show you are well-informed about the employer. 

Don’t: Ask simple questions. Your questions should encourage the interviewer to discuss the functions of the position for which you are applying. For example, you could ask questions about how reporting works or which departments you might work with. You can also ask about the interviewer’s role and their favorite part about working there. 

7. Questions about your current or previous employers

Do: If the interviewer asks you about your experience with a former employer or why you want to leave your current position, it’s important to offer positive explanations. Be polite and professional when talking about past positions. For example, if you’re leaving your current position to pursue a job with higher pay, you could say, “I enjoy my current company and coworkers, but I believe I have developed a specialized skill set that deserves more compensation.”

Don’t: Use negative language. When you talk about a previous employer, focus on one aspect you liked. Keep your answer short and ask a follow-up question that prompts the hiring manager to respond. For example, “I liked that my last manager held regular team meetings where we could brainstorm challenges. Would I work directly with other team members in this role?"