Steps to a Successful Interview

You’ve landed an interview! Before you go – study the steps to a successful interview.

Let’s make sure you have done all the steps…..

Now you have a scheduled interview.  You have been successful so far, but your interview could become an epic fail.  Let’s make it an epic WIN.

Being invited to interview is not easily achieved.  So far you have achieved a major victory.  Congratulations! You will now be seated in front of the person or persons that will be evaluating your every move. Yikes!  Keep in mind, everything you do is being judged because they don’t know you. First impressions are crucial. You need to show them you would be a great hire.

You will now be seated in front of the person or persons that will be evaluating your every move. Yikes!  Keep in mind, everything you do is being judged because they don’t know you.  First impressions are crucial (…and these are usually made in the first 15 seconds). You need to show them you would be a great hire.

Everything about you will be on display. Your hair, what you wear, voice, body language, eye contact, even the way you shake their hand.  This is the person that is going to hire you so don’t fall short.

Unfortunately, too many job candidates blow their interview opportunities wasting all that time and effort. This is not what you want. Never assume that the job offer is “in the bag” simply because you were invited for an interview.  Here are the steps to a successful interview.

Let’s help you find a great job in Asheville.  But first – remember this very wise statement:

Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.- Theodore Roosevelt

Don’t Go Unprepared

Lack of preparation will kill your opportunity immediately and employers will quickly know whether or not you have come prepared. Preparation will show the employer that you are eager for the job.

Being prepared also demonstrates that you will be prepared when they employ you.  Here are a couple other important things you can do to be as ready as possible:

  • Read the job description and bring your several copies of that resume with you in a folder. This should be the same resume you used when you applied.
  • Make sure you have read the job description thoroughly.  Write down the job requirements then determine your accomplishments that match with those requirements. Have a cheat sheet prepared with talking points and place them in the folder along with your resumes.

Know the answers to the standard job interview questions

A few typical questions employers ask are “What do you know about our company” and “Why do you want to work here”?   If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then you shouldn’t be interviewing with the company.

Study up on the employer

Thoroughly go through the “About Us” section of the website. What do they do? Do they state a “mission”? Do they have several locations? Are they part of a larger organization? Who are the leaders of the company?   If they have a product line make sure you have an understanding what it is. Don’t expect to be considered if you haven’t taken the time to research.

Research the interviewer

Most of the time you will know the name of the interviewer(s). Make sure you research their LinkedIn Profiles. See if you have anything in common with them, such as their hometown, military experience, school, service, volunteer work, etc.  It is also a good idea to get their direct phone line and email, if possible.

Know how much time it takes to get to the interview on time

Google maps should be your best friend.  Plan your departure and arrival for the interview. Of course, be on time or even a little early.  If you hit traffic you should have the contact number handy so you can call and give them a heads up.  If you don’t call and just show up late…..say goodbye to your potential job.  Being late for an interview is DEADLY.

Act interested, but don’t overact

Most employers are considering more than just you. If you, in any way, act uninterested in them, they certainly aren’t interested in hiring you.  Ask intelligent questions that indicate you have done some research on their company.

You need to demonstrate your interest in the company and the job. Show up on time, appropriately dressed and turn off your cell phone.  Nothing is more irritating than a cell phone that pings or rings in an interview.  The interviewer should be the only thing you focus on.

Do not share TMI (too much information)

Being honest is a wonderful trait. You should always be honest about yourself during an interview, but don’t be too honest. You don’t need to share your life story. The interviewer does not need to know about your kids, grandkids, significant other, or health issues.  Sometimes, people want to spill their whole life story in a job interview, this is not smart or useful.

You don’t need to tell lies, just avoid boring the interviewer and blowing an opportunity by sharing too much information. If they want more details, they’ll ask.

You should NEVER bad-mouth a current or former employer.  Just say you are moving on to your next career. Stay focused on the job requirements, the employer and what the company needs.



Study the fine art of body language

If you don’t smile, have a limp handshake, and don’t make eye contact with the interviewer, you may come across as too shy, strange or simply not interested.

Show your interest and enthusiasm. When you greet them, look them in the eye and offer your hand for goodness sakes.  Firmly shake their hand. Limp handshakes are for boring people with no confidence.  You don’t need to offer a crushing handshake, just a nice confident one. You also want to continue eye contact through out the interview.  If you’re looking around the office and not at them, that sends the message that you are not interested or paying attention.

Make a list of good questions beforehand

If you don’t have questions to ask an employer they will feel you have no sincere interest. If you are in your first interview, asking questions only about raises, promotions, vacation, and benefits are usually indications that it’s all about you.  This is a complete turn-off to the employer.  They want to know that you are interested in the specific job and that you are going to enjoy your job on a daily basis. If it’s just about what’s in it for you, you will probably not get hired.

Your goal is to get to the SECOND interview!  Ask questions on compensation, etc. at THAT time.

Ask questions that get the interviewer to talk about the company. Getting them engaged in conversation is a great way to relax both of you.  Get them talking about the culture of the company. You don’t need to fire off non-stop questions, just ask a couple and let them talk. Here are a few examples of good open-ended questions.

  • What do you think are the most important qualities for someone to succeed and excel in this role?
  • What are your expectations for this role during the first 30 days, 60 days and one year?
  • Can you describe the culture of the company?
  • What do you like best about the company?


Don’t display inappropriate behavior

Don’t try to joke around.  You don’t know their sense of humor and if you try to tell a joke, it might be a huge mistake.  You can smile and be light hearted. Do not under any circumstances, chew gum or bring food or drink into the interview. Always say, please and thank you.  Mind your manners, like your Mother taught you.  Be polite to EVERYONE you meet there. Show them your best!

Make sure you collect contact information and ask the next-step questions

Follow up questions at the end of the interview are crucial.  Ask the interviewer what the next steps are in the interview process?  This will show them you are very interested and eager to move the process forward. It will also help you if finding out the timeline for hiring.

If you fail to follow- up you fail

Many times jobs seekers leave the interview(s) with a sigh of relief and they never follow up with the interviewer.  Make sure you ask if you can follow up with them in a few days.

To stand out from all the other job seekers, be sure to send a thank you note to each person who interviewed you. Also send a thank you to any recruiter, if one was involved.  If you were referred by an employee, send a thank you to them as well.  To send an effective thank you, look at the sample thank you notes.

If you follow these simple rules you are well on your way to a successful interview.  Happy interviewing!

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