Interview Preparation

Written by on August 26, 2013 in Blog, Interviews with 2 Comments

Getting Ready For The Interview

You’ve worked hard, perfected your resume, got through a phone screen, and now you’ve been invited for an onsite interview. The job you want is within your grasp—so don’t mess it up.

Interviews are tricky, and interview preparation is really tricky. A lot of things can go wrong. These three points might seem trivial, but any one of them could get you disqualified as a serious candidate for the position.


Keep one word in mind—professional. That’s the only word to describe how you should dress. Nothing flashy, just a conservative suit (men and women) accompanied by shined shoes and very little, if any, jewelry. If you’re going casual (and do that only if you’ve been told to do so by the company), make sure you are “buttoned up.” In other words:

Men—don’t show your chest hair. This is not the place to be trying to pick up the ladies; besides some ladies don’t even like it. So tuck in those unruly hairs and button up your shirt. Trust me, you’ll make it through the day without exposing yourself.

Ladies—exposing cleavage will do more harm than good. Besides, you don’t want the men focusing on that; you want them listening to your answers.


Men and ladies—please don’t wear cologne or perfume. It doesn’t cover up odors, and besides, if you didn’t bathe that morning maybe you don’t deserve to get the job. There has never been a person who got a job offer because they wore a certain cologne/perfume. In 30 years of recruiting, I have never had a client say, “That person smelled so good that we have to hire them.” But there probably have been people who didn’t get invited back because of it.

I know what you’re thinking. Yes, I do. You’re thinking there is no way a company would eliminate a person because of cologne/perfume. Okay, good point. But imagine one of the people on the interview team has issues with smells—strong perfume/cologne smells in particular. And in walks you reeking like a…well, let’s just say reeking. Will they discount you just because of that? I doubt it. Even I have more faith in human nature than that; however, the interview will start out on a negative note and you never want an interview to start that way.

I’m going to end this part with a bit of logic, the same kind of logic I used with objectives in the resume book. There is absolutely nothing to gain by wearing cologne or perfume to an interview, but the smell might offend someone. It’s like placing a bet on something where you can’t win, but you might lose. Why risk it? It’s not worth it.

Be Punctual

One of the worst sins you can commit is being late for an interview. The company has planned an entire day around your visit, and everyone’s time is scheduled. If you’re late you risk throwing that schedule off. Besides, it’s just damn rude to be late.

To avoid the ultimate sin, estimate how long it will take to get to the company and then allow an extra fifteen minutes. And then allow fifteen more to be safe. What’s the worst that can happen—you get there half an hour early. That’s better than the alternative. Not much will start your interview day off worse than being late. I don’t care what the reason is, there is no excuse for being late.

Traffic doesn’t cut it as an answer. Neither does car breaking down. Or accident. Or kid problems. Or technology. In fact, nothing excuses being late unless it was an earthquake—and one the interview team experienced—or some other natural disaster. If you were the sole survivor of a plane crash and you managed to make the interview a few minutes late, that will work also—as long as you have blood on your shirt. Maybe I exaggerated a little, but you get the point. Don’t be late.

Okay, I think you’re ready. Get in the car, or taxi, or on your bike, and go. Get to that interview on time.

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About the Author

About the Author: When I’m not headhunting, or writing, I help my wife take care of our animal sanctuary. At last count we had 45 animals—11 dogs, 1 horse, 6 cats, and 26 pigs. Oh, and one crazy—and very large—wild boar named Dennis who takes walks with me every day and happens to also be my best buddy. For information on my mystery/suspense books, go to .

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  1. avatar James Thornton says:

    All good points. If I may add: Don’t overcompensate for your nervousness by talking too much. You’re there to make a good impression and communicate your capacity to do the job, not explain how the Swiss make a watch (unless they ask you). Keep the conversation going as best you can. If the interview lags, be prepared to ask questions pertinent to the topic at hand. It will demonstrate initiative. Don’t ramble.

    If you’re fresh out of college, stories of your frat/sorority house escapades, or other personal information is certainly welcome, IF you DON’T want the job. Keep the discussion limited to how your experience obtaining your degree will aid you in learning the job you will be doing. One other thing: Your prof may have told you a salary range to expect… multiply it by a factor of 0.7 and you might be in the ballpark. The acadamics rarely know the real value of the degree they have sold you (yeah, you got sold). Their estimates are almost always inflated.

    • avatar giammatteo

      Thanks for dropping by, James. And I agree, you make some excellent points. There is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there re: careers and job hunting, and quite often people don’t know who to listen to.

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