Business / Campus Life / Education / Opinion & Editorial

How to ace that interview

Career Fairs, like those held at Norfolk State University, are an excellent way to obtain job interviews. Photo from Norfolk State University.

Career Fairs, like those held at Norfolk State University, are an excellent way to obtain job interviews. Photo from Norfolk State University.

by Daniel Smallwood

Salute to you for getting invited to a job interview. Although your cover letter and resume are important tools for opening the door to the interview, it’s your performance in the interview that will make or break your shot at a job offer.

According to Michelle Dumas of, “Interviews can be nerve-wracking and interviewing is a learned skill. But even those of us who’ve been through it can still make mistakes. Whether new to the job-seeking world or a veteran, by following these tips you are well on your way to ensuring that the next interview you’re on, you’ll make a great impression.”

Dumas offers these tips for job seekers.

1. Do your homework. You should learn as much as you can about the company you’re applying with. The company’s website is a great place to gain that information.

2. Be prepared. Know the name of the person you’re interviewing with and use it. Take extra copies of you resume and a list of references. Better to be safe than sorry.

3. Dress appropriately. You want to look clean, pressed, well-groomed, and neatly dressed. Something clean and of decent quality should be good. Also pay attention to your shoes; shoes lose their power if they are worn and scuffed.

4. Be on time. Arrive 15 minutes early. If you’re unsure of the location, scout it beforehand. We all have GPS. There should be no reason you’re late for your interview.

5. Greet everyone you meet with respect and a smile. When you’re interviewing, everyone you speak with matters. A surprising number of job-seekers have had their chances ruined by treating a staff member impolitely.

6. Smile and stay calm. You’re going to be nervous! It is how you handle being nervous that will count. Sit up straight and don’t shake and twitch. Smile when you talk. Look confident, make eye contact, and speak clearly.

7. Ask the right questions. As the interview winds down, now is the time to ask bold, probing questions. Bold, creative questions include things like:

• “How will you measure the success of the person in this position?”

• “Do you have a set of goals you want me to accomplish in my first 30/60/90 days on the job?”

• “If I went to [insert name of closest competitor] right after this interview and asked them to describe your company, what would they say?”

Asking questions like these force interviewers to really think about an answer, which shows them you’re creative and unique. Asking questions shows your interest.

8. Finally, always close the interview with a thank-you and a request for information about the next step in the process.

With these tips, you’ll find yourself much better prepared and more confident when it comes time to interview for a new job.