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Keys to a Successful Interview

You may have outstanding experience and credentials, but it is still necessary to prepare yourself for an interview, the most important phase of your job search. This is your opportunity to make your best impression and demonstrate your strengths to a prospective employer. When the interview is concluded, you want to be satisfied that the prospective employer believes you have the ability to perform the job. This article provides suggestions for a successful interview.

Pre-interview preparation

It is up to you to be prepared and learn as much about the organization as possible before your interview, i.e., How long has the organization been in business and who is the owner? What is their mission and philosophy? What is the scope of their services?

Know the name(s) and title(s) of the individuals with whom you will be meeting. You should know their position within the organization.

Anticipate what questions may be asked of you during the interview and give thought to how you would respond.

Prepare a mental list of questions to ask during the interview, i.e., What has been the history of the position for which you are interviewing? Be proactive in learning as much as you can about the organization and the position in order to evaluate your interest in the opportunity.

Get directions to the meeting location in advance. Make sure you allow the time needed to arrive on time. The best time to arrive for an interview is when you’re scheduled. If you do arrive early, make it no more than five to ten minutes early. If you are going to be unavoidably late, call the organization and let them know.

Your first impression will be a lasting one. Your dress and appearance will have an impact before any words are spoken. Wear conservative, professional looking clothes, such as a business suit. Avoid loud colors and wear minimal jewelry. Be well groomed (hair, fingernails, beards, etc).

During the interview

Have an idea ahead of time of what you want to say about yourself, and how you would like to react to certain questions or situations. You are there to sell yourself. A good interviewer will know if you are prepared.

Be enthusiastic and sincere. It is okay to be enthusiastic about yourself and the opportunity.

Try to avoid subjects or issues that typically generate emotional reactions. If an interviewer attempts to pull you into a conversation, be tactful without compromising yourself. It is okay to disagree as long as you are courteous.

Make eye contact and smile occasionally.

Listen. Allow the interviewer to take the lead, especially at the beginning of the interview.

Do not bring up the issue of salary or benefits. If the employer initiates a dialogue surrounding these issues, and asks if you have any questions, feel free to ask questions at that point.


Interview preparation is perhaps the single most overlooked aspect of the job changing process. If you are prepared you should be able to walk away from the interview knowing that you did your best.

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