Education Career Services

April 2, 2010

Making that first impression: Face-to-face interviews

Submitted by Jenna Rew

In these economic times, being called for a face-to-face interview is a success by itself. Companies want to hire those who can prove beyond doubt that they can fulfill all the employer’s needs. During the initial phase, you have to prove your value to the company is greater than the sum of your pay.

According to the Agency for Workforce Innovation for the state of Florida, over 211,500 jobs have been lost since February of 2009. That being said, nailing your interview is key to ensuring you land a position in a time when thousands are out of work.

So, how do you prepare?

Do the leg work. Research the company where you are applying. Find ways to showcase your skills in a way that is relevant to the employer and prepare questions that can not be answered by going to the company Web site.

Practice makes perfect. Research common interview questions and compose your answers. If possible, practice with someone else to avoid becoming tongue-tied or inconsistent. A few common questions are:

  • Why should I hire you?
  • What is your greatest strength? Weakness?
  • What motivates you?
  • What are your career goals?

 Know the area. If necessary, do a trial run. You want to be 10 to 15 minutes early and knowing where you are going is essential.

Prepare your briefcase/portfolio. Consider the things you should be taking with you:

  • At least three copies of your resume in case the interviewer does not have one on hand.
  • Your social security card and driver’s license
  • Writing samples or a portfolio of relevant work
  • Letters of reference and reference information.
  • If you are a recent grad, a copy of your last transcript

Dress for success. Women should wear business pants or a knee length skirt with proper hosiery, a blouse, heels or pumps, minimal jewelry and modest make-up. If appropriate, wear a jacket. Men should wear a three piece business suit and a modest tie, no crazy patterns. Clean shaven is best. Make sure your clothes are ironed. If your clothes are a rumpled mess you give the impression that YOU are a rumpled mess.

Follow-up. After the interview, send a letter or friendly e-mail saying thank you for the interviewer’s time and interest. When the employers are reviewing applicants they will remember you.

Preparation is everything. Plan accordingly and walk out of your interview with your head held high. Be confident and showcase yourself. You will succeed.

Thank you Jenna, I am convinced this will not be the last time we hear from you,

Danny Huffman, MA, CEIP, CPCC, CPRW
Owner, Author, Publisher
Career Services International,
Education Career Services,
Creator, The Huffman Report,


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