Secrets to a Successful Interview

You're probably familiar with the expression "You never get a second chance to make a first impression". This statement is true in many types of situations, from first dates to job interviews. And what more important first impression is there than a job interview? In today's competitive job market, it is even more important to make the right first impression with a potential employer. That being said, here are a few tips and reminders to knock your next interview out of the park!


Prepare answers to common interview questions and speak them aloud. You may think you can wing it – but don’t. Interviewers will want you to illustrate past instances where you’ve used your strengths successfully. Under stress, it can be difficult to provide an extemporaneous example. 

Do your research.

Put the internet to good use. Research the company where you’re interviewing and know why you want to work there. Prepare questions to ask of the interviewer to show you have taken the time to learn about the company. While you’re online, make sure that the privacy settings of your social networking sites (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) are set so that your interviewers are not surprised when they researching you!

Be on time.

There are no excuses for being late to an interview. If you are not familiar with the area, be sure to map out directions so you know where you are going. Better yet, “test drive” the route ahead of time so you make sure you know how to get there and how long it will take. Leave early on the day of your interview just in case you get stuck in traffic or are delayed in some other way. If you arrive early, you’ll have bonus time to prepare!

Turn off your cell phone.

Or better yet, leave it in your car. Having your cell phone go off during an interview is unprofessional and disrespectful to the hiring manager. If you forget and your phone rings while you’re being interviewed, you should apologize and immediately silence the call. Do NOT answer the call!

Dress appropriately.

"In the first 10 seconds of meeting a candidate, the interviewer makes a mental decision on whether you look right for the job,” says Robin Ryan, author of “60 Seconds & You’re Hired!”  “If your personal presentation is inappropriate, you’ve lost that position without saying a word.” If you’re not sure what is appropriate for your interview, check with a career advisor on campus or an IowaWorks advisor.

Be confident.

Make eye contact, smile and give a firm handshake. Non-verbal communication can be even more important than what you say in an interview. If you don’t appear confident that you’re the best person for the job, how can you expect your interviewer to think so?

Send a thank-you note.

A thank-you note is a positive way to stay on the employer’s mind, giving you one more chance to remind the interviewer about yourself and your qualifications. Use the Thank-You Letter Builder at to help you put together an appropriate note. Accept rejection with grace. Unfortunately, rejection is part of the game. If it happens to you, do not burn bridges; instead send another thank-you note. You never know when they will have a future opening.

Printed from the Iowa College Student Aid Commission website on May 25, 2018 at 11:13pm.