Job Interviewing Tips

Follow these steps and tips to ACE any interview and be sure to check out Accounting Interview Domination: Ace Your Accounting Interview!

How to Have a Good Job Interview

Do you have an important interview coming up for a new job? We demonstrate what you should say and what the interviewer would like to hear to ensure your interview is a great success...


  1. Start preparing as early as possible. Larger corporations will generally contact you to schedule an interview about a month before the interview occurs. You should spend this whole month prepping so that you're comfortable and knowledgeable going into the interview. [1]
    • Do your research. Research the company and specifically the business unit or department. Get as much background information as you can get so that you don't get caught speechless if you're asked to talk a little bit about it. Also use internet search engines to research the people who are interviewing you (or who you think may be interviewing you). If you're having trouble finding things, try Linkedin. It is a career networking site were a lot of professionals register themselves.
    • Seek out experts. Find yourself a mentor and/or an alumni from your university currently working in your desired career. Talk to them and get an inside scoop. Ask for advice. Career Business Discussion Boards is a good website you can use to connect with such people.
    • Prepare with a peer. Find a friend who is also preparing for a job interview. Interview each other so that you get comfortable with the verbal and social aspects of the interview. You can also tell your peer different anecdotal stories that you're considering for the interview. Ask them what each story portrays about you, and use their feedback to choose the one that best represents the parts of you that you want to show to the interviewer.
    • Prepare at least three questions. These should not be things that can be easily discovered through simple research. Think about what you want to know about the specific company, and how working there will be different from working with another corporation.
    • Prepare for the most tricky questions and write down the answers before you go for an interview. Key questions often asked include:
      • What are your weaknesses?
      • Why do want to work for so and so company?
      • Tell me something about yourself.
      • What are your strengths?
      • Tell us what our company or agency is all about - What is our purpose/product/service?
  2. Put the interview into perspective. Try to think of this as an exchange between two people rather than a one-way interrogation. It's very helpful to think of this in terms of a first date; you want to make sure you present yourself in your best light, while making sure the job is the right fit for you. You should make sure it's the right company for you as well as be on your best form for them.
  3. Show up a little early. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and have everything you need. Ideally, you should carry a nice portfolio containing loose leaf paper and your resume. Make sure to also being a couple of pens and pencils so you can jot down notes.
    • Knowing what to not to bring is also important. Leave your calculator and gum at home. If you absolutely need to bring your cell phone, make sure it's completely powered off before you go into the interview. It also goes without saying that you should not bring anyone with you to the interview.
  4. Be clear. If you're asked to answer a case question, talk through your process with the interviewer. Don't be afraid to ask if your ideas sound accurate—you'll be evaluated on your ability to structure your thinking, not on the number of questions you ask. In fact, talking through your process is a great way to engage the interviewer and turn the interview into more of a discussion.[2].
  5. Sell yourself. What are your unique selling points and how can you match them to what they want? Make sure you use plenty of examples as proof of your abilities. Show the interviewer that you can find the positives in your past experiences—this is not a time to complain about what you hated about your previous work situation.
  6. Be inquisitive. Don't forget to ask your questions. Pay attention as the interviewer answers—you may even want to jot down notes. This is both to prove that you are listening and also to give yourself a way to reflect on the interview later if you end up having to decide between multiple positions.
  7. Be savvy about phone interviews. If it is a phone interview, it's usually with a PR person who knows very little about the position and technical terms related to a specific job. Make sure to use keywords and buzzwords while answering questions because you are trying to paint a picture with words, since the interviewer has no visual clues of you. Do this and you will pass the phone interview.
  8. Be polite. Listen to each question fully before you begin to respond. Never assume that your interviewer has read your CV, but don't treat them as though they haven't, either. After the interview, do not forget to send customized email. These are generally better than hand written thank you notes, as they are quicker than snail mail. However, you should be sure that they are well proofread and personal before you send them.
  9. Be persistent. Keep interviewing. The more you interview, the better you will become at it.


  • On each interview, bring a nicely typed up brief list of items that you want to make sure you bring up during the interview - A top-10 list you might say. Keep list in front of you. Try to work some of these points into your responses. For example, if you are certified in something that applies, make sure you mention this. If you are an excellent listener or communicator, make sure you mention this. Use these items where they fit...but don't over do it. This is the list of things that you would otherwise say "I wish I had mentioned that...".
  • Don't take rejection personally. Reason for not getting a job is typically a better qualified candidate was chosen. Stay in the game...Keep swinging...Each interview increases your chances of landing a new job.
  • If your rejection comes in the form of a phone call, be polite and thank them for considering you. Who knows, the person they selected might not work out. If this happens, they might reconsider you.
  • After each interview, debrief yourself. Afterwards, try to see yourself from a "fly-on-the-wall" perspective. Be objective. Ask yourself what you did wrong, what you did right, what you could have done better, how you could have made a better impression, what questions were difficult to answer, etc. Quickly write these things down. Research and/or think about areas where your answers could have been better. Review these notes before your next interview. You will be surprised at how much better you perform in each successive interview.
  • Check the weather forecast. Inclement weather can cause travel delays, so plan accordingly. If rain is predicted, take an umbrella. You don't want to arrive looking like a drowned rat.
  • Be early for the interview. Try to be 15 to 20 minutes early. Use any wait time to review your notes. Being late or just barely on time tends to cause stress and it can show during the interview.
  • Allow extra time for finding a parking place. It can sometimes be challenging to find a parking place at an unfamiliar site. Bring quarters to load up the parking meter if parking meters apply.
  • If asked about something you know nothing or very little about, it's better to say what you know and then be honest and say something like "This is not my strongest area...but I'm very willing to learn."
  • Interviewers are sizing up your personality, deciding what type of team player you will be, evaluating your ability to learn and judging your character . It's not all about your level of technical knowledge. Someone who shows a positive personality and teamplayer qualities can have a big advantage over those who just show a technical side.
  • Use your time during the interview wisely and efficiently. Be careful about going off on tangents and wasting valuable time. An hour-long interview can go by really fast. Try to be efficient in the words and thoughts that you express. Try to leave 10 to 15 minutes at the end for your questions and so you can diplomatically size them up as well. Bring a wrist watch to help you keep track of time.
  • If you are asked a question that can consume a lot of time, efficiently state what is most important. Then say "I can go into a lot more detail on this if you like." Many times the interviewers will say "No...that's did well on that." They have a business schedule to keep also and want to be careful that the interview time is not squandered.
  • Many interviewers like to ask a question towards the end such as "What three adjectives best describe you?" Be prepared to answer such a question.
  • Many State jobs, county jobs, federal government jobs and private sector jobs require drug testing. This can be accomplished by a urinalysis test or by cutting a small strand of your hair and sending it to a lab for analysis. The hair-strand approach can detect drug usage from months ago because of the internal molecular structure of your hair. If you are taking illegal drugs, be advised and consider ways to stop. If you are taking legal pharmaceutical prescriptions, write these down on the form that you sign so the lab will understand the situation. The form has a place for this information.
  • Find a balance between stating your good qualities but not coming across as someone who is bragging about themselves.


  • One trick that interviewers like to use is a lapse in the conversation. A lot of people aren't comfortable with that silence and will do just about anything to fill it in. You may find yourself revealing or saying something that you will regret in retrospect.
  • Another trick an interviewer might use is to have the interview interrupted persistently. The interruptions may be accidental or planned, but if you lose your flow or become irritated, remain polite and smile.
  • Panel interviews, where several people interview you at once are common for positions of importance. Recognise the different roles that may be adopted by each member of the panel. It is quite common for at least one panel member to adopt a "bad cop" role - where their questions may seem abupt, even rude. This is a deliberate tactic to see how you react. Try and stay calm, don't let them rile you. If they talk over you, stop and let them ask their next question. If you know it is a deliberate tactic, you can behave appropriately.

Sources and Citations
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