The Secret to Nailing an Interview

The prospect of a job interview can be nerve racking. If a person has been out of work for a long period of time, desperation can make the process even more stressful. However, with the right preparation, a prospective employee can ace it. Here are some tips:

Dress For Success

Interviewees should dress a bit more conservatively than what passes as the company’s normal attire when they go on job interviews. If the workplace’s dress is casual, with employees arriving in jeans and t-shirts, the interviewee might wear an Oxford cloth shirt, khaki trousers and perhaps penny loafers, however, they should still be scrupulously clean. In a more corporate institution, the interviewee should wear a dark suit and a nicely pressed shirt. Men should wear a tie and everyone should wear comfortable, polished, sensible shoes. Whatever is worn, the interviewee should get a good night’s sleep, and groom appropriately. Punctuality is also important, individuals should allow themselves twenty minutes above the time they’ve calculated it will take to arrive at the interview. Interviewers assume that if a person is late for the interview, they will be late for the job.

Research the Company

The prospective employee should research the company they wish to work for with a little less intensity than they would research a doctor to treat them or a contractor to build their home. They might be working for this company for years and it helps to know if it’s a good fit. If it’s allowed, they should visit the company in person. They should view the company’s website and talk to the people who work there. They’ll need to know what the company does or makes, what they expect their employees to do on a daily basis and what kind of people work there. The interviewee should also investigate health and other benefits and salaries, though this should not be brought up first thing during the interview. The prospective employee should write down any polite questions they might wish to ask at the end of the interview. This might impress the interviewer, who will know that the employee did a bit of homework.


If it’s possible, the interviewee should rehearse the interview with a friend posing as the interviewer. They should find a list of questions that an interviewer might ask and have the friend ask a few of them. The friend should also throw in some questions that the employee wasn’t expecting, as this will certainly happen during the interview.


Manners go beyond dressing well and showing up on time. The interviewee’s posture should be good but not stiff. They should sit in a way that’s both formal but comfortable, with both feet on the floor. They should keep eye contact with the interviewer and speak in a formal but not flowery way and, of course, avoid profanities. They should avoid complaining about anyone or anything. Their handshake, at the beginning and the end of the interview, should be firm. The “cold fish” handshake should be avoided at all costs. It’s better for a handshake to be a bit too firm than to be flaccid and indifferent.


The interviewee will be asked about their weaknesses. This presents a great opportunity for some finesse. An interviewee can confess, “Sometimes I lose track of time because I’m so engrossed in a project and want to see it done well and thoroughly.” Though the interviewer will no doubt have heard something like this before, it will still come across as impressive. The interviewee should also ask questions of the interviewer. They should be few but important. Salary should not be mentioned, at least not during the first one.

Thank Them For Their Time

At the end of the interview, the interviewee should thank the interviewer for their time as they give them a hearty handshake. Then, they should follow with a thank you note that also mentions some salient points about the interview.

This article was written by Magnus Keith on behalf of Kendall College, a college in Chicago which offers an immersive, hands-on approach to learning.

Image Credit: U R The Brand