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5 Things to Bring to a Job Interview

You finally landed a job interview. Congratulations! After patting yourself on the shoulder, you need to start preparing for it right away. Interviews are about 80% preparation and 20% execution. You cannot leave anything to chance on your big day. It is important to remember all of the little details. As I said before, it is the details in life that counts.

I heard a story of a man that went on an interview for his dream job. He was introduced to the hiring manager and hit it off right away. However, when the hiring manager asked for his resume, this man simply forgot to bring a copy. The interview went downhill from there. The company did not make him an offer. He said if he had not forgotten to bring his resume, he would have landed the job. On the day of your interview, these are the 5 things you need to bring with you.

1. Resume copies

Interviewers usually have a copy of your resume. However, don’t assume that the people interviewing you will always have a copy of your resume. Printers do break down or run out of ink. My advice is to print out your resume on nice professional paper. Make a few copies just in case you will be interviewed by many people.

2. A pen and notepad

You don’t want to look silly when you need to write something down but don’t have a pen. Your future employer will probably make a mental note that you did not bring something as simple as a pen to an interview.

You need to have something to write during an interview. When interviewing candidates, I pay attention to whether they have a notepad with them to jot down notes while we talk. If you want to stand out from the crowd, bring a notepad. It is even better when you use it during the interview.

3. Questions

Don’t forget to bring a list of questions to ask the hiring manager. Some people forget to do this in their rush to prepare for the interview. They think they can just make up some questions during the interview. I believe the questions you ask is just as important as your replies to questions. Never leave this to chance. In the heat of the moment, your mind might freeze up and you will forget to ask those great questions you wrote down before the interview. So bring your questions along.

4. References or testimonials

Some interviews require you to bring a list of references so that the hiring manager can check them afterwards.  Depending on your industry, it might be common practice to bring along your references. Testimonials are also another form of references that can really make you stand out from the crowd. Testimonials let the hiring manager know how great other people think you are.

5. Work samples

Certain professions might require you to bring some of your work to show the interviewer. For example, a programmer can show his/her latest coding projects on a laptop or iPad. An artist can show his/her portfolio of creative work.

Top 10 Tips to Ace the Phone Interview

One of my favorite ways to interview new candidates is with the phone interview. I find that it can be quite effective in interviewing many candidates very quickly. This is also known as a screening interview. This type of interview is convenient for both you and the hiring manager or Human Resources department to conduct because it does not require an in-person meeting. The purpose of a phone interview is to ‘screen out’ candidates in order to find the most qualified people to invite for in-person interviews. I have participated in many phone interviews as both the interviewer or interviewee. Today I want to pass along some tips that you need to know to ace the phone interview.

 1. Prepare for the phone interview.

You need to treat the phone interview the same way as an in-person interview. This means you should go through the same amount of preparation as you would when interviewing onsite. Be sure to research the company, study your resume and job description. Be prepare to have responses to common questions.

2. Have your resume visible.

The nice thing about a phone interview is that you can have all your documents in front of you without the other person on the other line seeing it. Have your resume in front of you either printed out or on your computer screen. You will be referring to your resume throughout the interview to answer questions about your experiences and qualifications. If you have the job description, print this out too so that you can review it during the interview and tailor your answers to the job description. Another great idea is to have a cheat sheet with answers to a bunch of questions that the interviewer might ask you.

3. Find a quiet spot.

I recommend you find a quiet and private place where you won’t be disturb so you can take the call. It can be quite annoying when I hear a lot of background noises when interviewing someone over the phone. If you are currently employed while looking for a new job, you need to find a place outside of the office to take the call to avoid your co-workers from eavesdropping on your conversation.

4. Use a landline phone.

Unless you know that you will get great cell phone reception where you are I advise on using a landline phone. You don’t want to risk have issues with your cell phone during an interview. I have spoken to candidates on cell phones that are less than perfect signal and it can be hard for both the candidate and myself to hear each other clearly. This can be quite distracting, embarrassing and can lead to the interviewer having a poor impression of the candidate. Under no circumstances should you place the call on speaker phone.

5. Smile.

In my many years of interviewing candidates over the phone, it is rare for me to sense someone smiling on the other line. When you smile during the interview, it projects a positive image and confidence. It will elevate the tone of your voice and will make you sound more pleasant. In a phone interview, there is no way to read body languages so when you smile it will make a difference. The interviewer might think you are more self-assured, easy to get along with and friendly.

6. Speak slowly and clearly.

When doing a phone interview, you want to treat it as seriously as if you are meeting the interviewer in person. When answering questions you should take your time, answer it clearly and slowly. That is because the interviewer is judging you on your communications skills as well as your experiences and qualifications. You might have the greatest resume in the world but if you can’t communicate, then you are not going to move to the next step of the hiring process.

7. Don’t talk too much.

Be prepared for moments of silence on the phone. Do not feel you need to keep talking when there is a moment of  silence on the other line. This is normal and does not mean the interview is going downhill. The interviewer is just taking notes or thinking of the next question to ask you.

8. Stand up.

When you stand up you will sound more confident, energetic and assertive. The other person on the other line will not know you are doing this. Some people are better thinking on their feet.

9. Take notes.

Have a pen and paper ready to take notes. It is annoying for me to hear the candidate typing on their computer so pen and paper works well in this situation. Your notes can come in handy if you are invited to an in-person interview.

10. Thank the interviewer.

Your goal for a phone interview is to get an in-person interview. You need to express your interest in the job and ask the interviewer to tell you what the next step will be in the interview process. You want to end the call on a high note. You don’t want to end the phone interview without letting the interviewer know how much you appreciate their time in conducting this phone interview and how you look forward to meeting them in person.

6 Things You Should Never Say in a Job Interview

1. NEVER EVER badmouth your current or former bosses, colleagues and companies.

This is just unprofessional and not necessary. When I ask you why you are looking for a new job, I assume you are not happy with the current job. You do not need to go into the details why your boss is evil and everyone at the company is incompetent. When you say bad things about your current/previous company, I wonder what you will say about us when you eventually go look for another job. Talking smack about your current/previous company comes off as being immature, negative and can label you as a person who is difficult to work with. I want to hire someone who is positive and enthusiastic.

2. Don’t bring up the subject of salary or benefits.

There will be a time for that especially when we know we want to hire you. Bringing up this subject too early can derail the interview because I think you want this job for the money and not because it is a great job. As a rule, wages and salaries are not discussed during the first interview.You got to demonstrate to me first that you are a worthy candidate and you need to prove to me that you got what it takes to make it in this company.

3. Don’t ask me what my company does.

YOU should already know that if you have done your research. If a candidate asks me this question, the interview is over and he/she will be asked to leave. This tells me the candidate did not do proper research and have done zero due diligence. They just want me to give them a job instead of figuring out how they can help the company.

4. Don’t tell me how great this job will be for you.

Tell me how you can help us. Interviewers hate job candidates who are arrogant and selfish. When you talk about how you can contribute to the company’s success, I am very interested. When you tell me how this job will be great for your career, how short your commute will be, the fact that you will be making more money than your old job and so on, I begin to think you are a selfish person and a career climber.

5. Don’t talk politics, religion or anything of a sensitive nature.

We are here to know about you and how you can help the company. We don’t care about your personal politics or philosophies. If you bring these subjects up I just assume you have nothing better to say. This will certainly diminish your credibility and makes me pause when seriously considering you as a front-runner for the job. Anytime you get off-topic you are about to walk into dangerous waters. At best, I will just ignore the comment. At worst, I will end the interview and you will never hear from us again.

6. Don’t use profanities and slang words.

You might think you are cool by using these words but not on the first interview. Unless you are interviewing at a tattoo parlor, this language is unprofessional and you are treating this interview too casually. It is a formal conversation and requires the use of good English grammar. I want to know that you can use proper grammar and that you can speak well as communications is a very important ability that we want in our workers. If you want to be taken seriously, do not disrespect the interviewer by treating it as a social conversation you would have with friends over a beer. You want to come off as intelligent, articulate and well-mannered.


6 Ways to Make a Good Impression During Job Interviews

I always say getting an interview is half the battle. When I ask someone to come in for an interview, I am telling that person that they have a great shot of landing the job offer. I just need to confirm it by meeting them in person and asking them a few questions to validate my initial assessment.

The interview will be the determining factor on whether I want to hire the job seeker or not. So it is crucial that you learn how to stack the odds in your favor. Below are some of the things that I pay attention to when meeting the interviewee for the first time.

1. Be prepared

Never go into an interview without preparing for it. Don’t try to ‘wing’ the interview. It will not work. I will know right away if you don’t come prepared by asking you a few simple questions. You need to read my article on how to prepare for an interview.

2. Be on time

Don’t be late for the interview. If you are late, you will make a very bad impression in the minds of most interviewers. Hiring managers are usually very busy. We have back-to-back meetings and if you are late, your interview will be cut short or cancelled. This is one of my biggest pet peeves. Also, don’t show up too early.

3. Dress appropriately

Always err on the formal and conservative side when dressing for the interview even if it is a casual work environment. The way you dress DOES make a lasting impression on the mind of the interviewer. This has been proven in countless studies. I am not saying you need to put on a suit but do come looking professional.

4. Be enthusiastic

During the interview, you need to be enthusiastic and positive. That means you need to smile and give a firm handshake when we meet for the first time. I know this seems like an obvious tip but I have seen so many gloomy interviewees. This is your moment to shine and to tell me why I should hire you. I need to get a positive vibe that you will be a good fit in our company and that you will be eager to hit the ground running. If you don’t show that you want the job, I will give it to someone else that it more enthusiastic about it.

5. Ask good questions

When you ask good questions, it shows that you have been paying attention during the interview and that you came prepared. It will also show that you are a thoughtful person. A big mistake is not asking any questions at all. If you don’t ask any questions during the interview, you are telling me that you are not interested in this job. Asking good questions will leave a positive impression in the mind of the interviewer.

6. Be yourself and relax

I know this can be very hard to do at the interview but you will score big points if you can pull it off. When you are relaxed and comfortable during the interview, it will be smooth for you and me. The interview will be more conversational instead of being an interrogation. When you are relaxed, you will be able to think clearly, listen better and be a better speaker. You want to convey confidence and interest during the interview.

6 Signs the Interview Went Well


How can you tell if an interview went well? As someone who have interviewed numerous candidates for different positions, I can give you some signs that you are going to get the job offer.

1. Lots of smiling, nodding and approving looks

I will signal with my body language that the interview is going well by doing any of the above things. I will also ask a lot of detailed questions about you that shows I am interested. Sometimes, I will take notes while you reply to my questions. I will be polite, listen carefully and the interview will be more conversational.

2. Provide more information about what you will do daily or project-related details

When I am interested in you, I usually take the interview to the next level by speaking in more detail about what I expect you to do when you are on the job. I will give you more details about the job duties, company culture, current and future projects.

3. I will try to sell you the job

I will do my best to persuade you to take the job. I will talk about the advantages of the position and the company. I will make it sound like you will be silly not to accept my offer.

4. Next steps

I will want to know when you can start assuming this is the final interview. If there are more interviews, I will let you know that we will be setting up a future time for you to come in to meet more people at the company. This is the clearest signal that I am interested in making you an offer when you see the interview moving forward.

5. Interview runs over the allotted time

When the interview goes over the allotted time, it is a very good sign. It means that I am very interested and have taken extra time out of my schedule to know more about you. If you were not a good candidate, I will try to wrap up the interview quickly.

6. Meet the team

When the interview is done, I will give you a tour of the office and have you meet with the team. I am doing this because I want the other people to later give me their first impressions of you.

4 Powerful Tips to Prepare for an Interview

I have interviewed many job seekers who have no clue about the company, the job they are applying for, or what is on their resume. After a few minutes of talking to these candidates, it is clear to me that they are trying to ‘wing’ it. I will politely end the interview and they will never hear from me again.

In today’s competitive job environment, you cannot leave anything to chance. It is better to be over prepared than under prepared. You will stand out from the crowd and leave a a good impression on the minds of the interviewers.

1. Research the company and job you are applying for

Before you go on the interview, you need to spend at least an hour researching the company. You should also be familiar with the job for which you’re being interviewed. Read the advertisement or job description and be prepared to discuss any aspect of it.

Write down any questions you have about the company or job. During the interview, you can ask the interviewer. Nothing impresses an interviewer more than showing how prepared you are.  

2. Study your resume and know everything on it

You should be prepared to answer any questions that the interviewer have about your resume. Your resume is the only thing that they have to go by in order to determine if you are the right person for the job. I have seen many interviewees stumbled because they could not elaborate about the things they wrote on their resume. Don’t let this happen to you.

3. Practice your answers to the most common interview questions

Find someone to role-play an interview with you. You don’t wan to come off like you have memorized a bunch of answers. The objective is to have a clear idea of what you are going to say so that you will sound intelligent and natural. Be prepared to discuss your past experiences, positions, roles and responsibilities in detail. It is important to get used to talking about your skills and experience.

4. Pay attention to the details

Regardless of what type of job your are interviewing for, you should dress appropriately. It is better to overdress than be under dress. It shows the hiring manager that you are taking this interview seriously. If you come in dressing sloppy and too casual, I wonder how you would look like once you get a job.  

Be sure you have correct directions to the company. It is not a bad idea to do a test drive before the interview day so that you will not get lost. You don’t need any additional stress during your interview.

Do bring copies of your resume to the interview. I have heard horror stories of candidates who forgot to bring their resumes. This might seem like a small oversight but everything counts during an interview.

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