6 Interview Tips from 20 years of Interviewing Applicants

Perhaps the most useful thing I can offer to a job candidate is the insight of having interviewed hundreds of potential employees over the last 20 years.  Here are the best tips I can give you, and specific examples, so you can see what the interviewer is thinking:


First impressions are everything. Do not show up underdressed. Remove any visible piercings and cover up tattoos if possible. Stand tall and confident, have a firm handshake, smile, make eye contact and be engaging. Turn off your cell phones. I have cancelled interviews with applicants that have shown up with purple hair and piercings, flips flops and swimsuit strings hanging out from under their shirt, and girls that were dressed like they were applying at a strip club. If you can’t take the time to dress appropriately for the interview, don’t expect the interviewer to take you seriously.

Be energetic and enthusiastic. Remember that there are many others that want this job besides you and you need to stand out from them by showing enthusiasm for the job and that you have the energy to do it.

Do your homework. Know the company and the position for which you are applying. Impress them with specific examples about accomplishments that you’ve done in past positions that would make you a great fit for the position. The more you can show them that you’re qualified, with specific examples, the more you will stand out above other applicants. If there is something you can’t do, be honest and tell them, but also offer that you would be excited to learn it and that you’re a fast learner.

Remember to be professional. Don’t use profanity. Don’t mention anything about sex, race, religion, politics and most importantly don’t ever under any circumstances say anything negative about your past supervisors, managers, co-workers or employers. There is nothing worse than hiring someone that bad mouths their employer.  I will try to get the applicant to open up about why they didn’t like their last employers.  If they do engage in this behavior, this is a red flag for me. Hiring a person like this, who engages in negative discussions about employers and coworkers, can be detrimental to your company’s morale. Employers will try to protect their company and their current employees from negative people like this. I am just being honest for your sake in your next interview.


Ask questions. When you’re asked by the interviewer if you have any questions, the worst answer to give is “no”.  Employers want to see that you are interested in the job.  The more questions you ask, the more time you get with the interviewer and the more time you get to relationship build with them. Take advantage of this. This shows a deeper level of interest than an applicant that says “no” when asked if they have any questions.

Don’t say too much about your personal life. When I am interviewing someone, there are questions by law I can ask and ones I can’t ask even though I would like the answers to them. For example, the law does not allow me to ask you if you’ve ever filed a worker’s compensation claim prior to me offering you the job. Therefore, I will ask you, in a caring tone, if you have any issues that we should know about that might prevent you from doing the job.  You would be surprised what applicants will disclose without me having to say another word.  As an employer, these issues are of great concern, because we have financial costs associated with these types of claims. Therefore, do not under any circumstances mention anything about past accidents, claims, or lawsuits. You are not obligated to do so. YourDontSay

Also, I always want to know about an applicant’s personal life, but I’m not allowed by law to ask certain questions. Therefore, I will simply ask, of course in a caring tone, for them to tell me a little bit about themselves. As an employer, I can tell you we have concerns about employees having personal problems that can interfere with job performance.  Only mention good things that suggest stability and good decision-making skills in your personal life.

You will go on many job interviews in your life time. You will also be in professional situations such as; to land new customers, to get a promotion, or even personal situations like to win over your future in-laws, etc. The things you learn from this apply to all those life situations.  For more interviewing tips, read Own Your Interview and The Art of the Successful Interview Part 1; Preparation.

Kimberly Burbank-Pye is the President/Owner of America’s MediaMarketing, Inc an INC 500 Award Company.  She has been interviewing applicants for over 20 years.  She has seen the best and the worst applicants and hopes this advice will help you be the best applicant at your next interview.


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