Interview Toolkit

Our Interview Toolkit Will Help You Nail That Job

Think You Know Every Tactic? Think Again

Get prepared to interview like a pro with the resources you need to succeed, right here.

  1. What brings you here today?
  2. What are your strengths?
  3. What areas do you feel you need to work on?
  4. What do you like most about selling?
  5. What part of selling don’t you enjoy?
  6. Why are you leaving your current employer?
  7. What motivates you?
  8. What are some goals you set for yourself?
  9. What skills do you feel a successful sales representative should possess?
  10. What is your greatest accomplishment in life? Why?
  11. How did you compare against your peers?
  12. What would your peers tell me about you?
  13. What type of awards have you won and which are you most proud of?
  14. I’m interviewing a lot of candidates why would I hire you?
  15. Why have you been successful?
  16. In your mind what separates sales champions from the rest of the pack?
  17. Who do you currently report to?
  18. What would your boss tell me about you?
  19. What area would your boss say you need to improve upon?
  20. What are your greatest attributes?
  21. What actions have you made to improve these deficiencies?
  22. What interests you about this company?
  23. If we were at dinner what would your friends tell me about you?
  24. I’ve interviewed many very good people. Why should I hire you?
  1. Bring with you multiple copies of your resume for each person you will be speaking with (the version we sent the company).
  2. Be on time, preferably arrive 15 minutes before the scheduled interview time. If you are unsure of the traffic/where about of the meeting, please consider this and if necessary arrive to the destination 30 minutes prior, give yourself time to relax and get into interview mode.
  3. Dress for success and research the company, they may ask you what you know about the company during the interview.
  4. Be Positive! Never speak negatively about past or current employers, speak positive words (even if you didn’t have that great of an experience).
  5. Hiring managers thrive off positivity, and will hire someone knowing they will come to work giving off positive vibes.
  6. Make sure you have appropriate answers as to why you left each job.
  7. Line up a few “go-to” questions about the position, use it as a time to impress them with clever well thought out questions.
  8. Thank you letter. Always send a thank you letter to the hiring manager for taking the time out to speak with you, ect. Please send it to us first for review.
  1. Conduct Research on the Employer, Hiring Manager, and Job Opportunity. Success in a job interview starts with a solid foundation of knowledge on the jobseeker’s part. You should understand the employer, the requirements of the job, and the background of the person (or people) interviewing you. The more research you conduct, the more you’ll understand the employer, and the better you’ll be able to answer interview questions (as well as ask insightful questions — see #8). Scour the organization’s website and other published materials, search engines, research tools, and ask questions about the company in your network of contacts. Learn more about job search job interview researching here.
  2. Review Common Interview Questions and Prepare Your Responses. Another key to interview success is preparing responses to expected interview questions. First, ask the hiring manager as to the type of interview to expect. Will it be one-on-one or in a group? Will it be with one person, or will you meet several members of the organization? Your goal is to try to determine what you’ll be asked and to compose detailed yet concise responses that focus on specific examples and accomplishments. A good tool for remembering your responses is to put them into a story form that you can tell in the interview. No need to memorize responses (in fact, it’s best not to), but do develop talking points. There are excellent tools available to help you with interview questions and responses. Also, consider using the STAR Interviewing Technique.
  3. Dress for Success. Plan out a wardrobe that fits the organization and its culture, striving for the most professional appearance you can accomplish. Remember that it’s always better to be overdressed than under — and to wear clothing that fits and is clean and pressed. Keep accessories and jewelry to a minimum. Try not to smoke or eat right before the interview — and if possible, brush your teeth or use mouthwash. Find more detailed advice — including specifics for men and women jobseekers — in our article, When Job-Hunting, Dress for Success.
  4. Arrive on Time, Relaxed and Prepared for the Interview. There is no excuse ever for arriving late to an interview. Short of a disaster, strive to arrive about 15 minutes before your scheduled interview to complete additional paperwork and allow yourself time to get settled. Arriving a bit early is also a chance to observe the dynamics of the workplace. The day before the interview, pack up extra copies of your resume or CV and reference list. If you have a portfolio or samples of your work, bring those along too. Finally, remember to pack several pens and a pad of paper to jot notes. Finally, as you get to the offices, shut off your cell phone. (And if you were chewing gum, get rid of it.) For additional tips and advice, read our article, 24-Hour Countdown to the Job Interview.
  5. Make Good First Impressions. A cardinal rule of interviewing is to be polite and offer warm greetings to everyone you meet — from the parking attendant to the receptionist to the hiring manager. Employers often are curious how job applicants treat staff members — and your job offer could easily be derailed if you’re rude or arrogant to any of the staff. When it’s time for the interview, keep in mind that first impressions — the impression interviewers get in the first few seconds of meeting you — can make or break an interview. Make a strong first impression by dressing well (see #3), arriving early (see #4), and when greeting your interviewer, stand, smile, make eye contact, and offer a firm – but not bone-crushing – handshake. Remember that having a positive attitude and expressing enthusiasm for the job and employer are vital in the initial stages of the interview; studies show that hiring managers make critical decisions about job applicants in the first 20 minutes of the interview.
  6. Be Authentic, Upbeat, Focused, Confident, Candid, and Concise. Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and delivery of your responses. Your goal should always be authenticity, responding truthfully to interview questions. At the same time, your goal is to get to the next step, so you’ll want to provide focused responses that showcase your skills, experience, and fit — with the job and the employer. Provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments — but keep your responses short and to the point. By preparing responses to common interview questions (see #2), you’ll ideally avoid long, rambling responses that bore interviewers. Always attempt to keep your interview responses short and to the point. Finally, no matter how much an interviewer might bait you, never badmouth a previous employer, boss, or co-worker. The interview is about you — and making your case that you are the ideal candidate for the job. Read about more interview mistakes in our article, Avoid These 10 Interview Bloopers — Critical Jobseeker Mistakes.
  7. Remember the Importance of Body Language. While the content of your interview responses is paramount, poor body language can be a distraction at best — or a reason not to hire you at worst. Effective forms of body language include smiling, eye contact, solid posture, active listening, and nodding. Detrimental forms of body language include slouching, looking off in the distance, playing with a pen, fidgeting in a chair, brushing back your hair, touching your face, chewing gum, or mumbling. Read more about perfecting your body language in our article, The Unspoken Secrets of Job Interviewing: How Your Nonverbal Presentation and Behaviors Impact the Impression You Make.
  8. Ask Insightful Questions. Studies continually show that employers make a judgment about an applicant’s interest in the job by whether or not the interviewee asks questions. Thus, even if the hiring manager was thorough in his or her discussions about the job opening and what is expected, you must ask a few questions. This shows that you have done your research and that you are curious. The smart jobseeker prepares questions to ask days before the interview, adding any additional queries that might arise from the interview. For an idea of questions you could ask at the interview, see our article, Questions You Can Ask at the Job Interview, as well as our article, Make a Lasting Impression at Job Interviews Using Questions.
  9. Sell Yourself and then Close the Deal. The most qualified applicant is not always the one who is hired; the winning candidate is often the jobseeker who does the best job responding to interview questions and showcasing his or her fit with the job, department, and organization. Some liken the job interview to a sales call. You are the salesperson — and the product you are selling to the employer is your ability to fill the organization’s needs, solve its problems, propel its success. Finally, as the interview winds down, ask about the next steps in the process and the timetable in which the employer expects to use to make a decision about the position. See our article, Closing the Sale and Overcoming Objections in Job Interview.
  10. Thank Interviewer(s) in Person, by Email, or Postal Mail. Common courtesy and politeness go far in interviewing; thus, the importance of thanking each person who interviews you should come as no surprise. Start the process while at the interview, thanking each person who interviewed you before you leave. Writing thank-you emails and notes shortly after the interview will not get you the job offer, but doing so will certainly give you an edge over any of the other finalists who didn’t bother to send thank-you notes. For more tips on writing thank-you notes, read this article: 10 Tips for Writing a Job-Search Interview Thank-You Letter. You can also check out these job interview thank-you letter samples.
Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
  1. Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview — or otherwise be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.
  2. Do your research and know the type of job interview you will encounter. (See types of job interviews.) And Do prepare and practice for the interview, but Don’t memorize or over-rehearse your answers. (See our some of the best collections of interview questions.)
  3. Do dress the part for the job, the company, the industry. And Do err on the side of conservatism. If you’re not sure, consider reading our article, When Job-Hunting: Dress for Success.
  4. Do plan to arrive about 10 minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable. If you are running late, Do phone the company.
  5. Do greet the receptionist or assistant with courtesy and respect. This situation is where you make your first impression with the employer.
  6. Don’t chew gum during the interview.
  7. If presented with a job application, Do fill it out neatly, completely, and accurately
  8. Do bring extra resumes to the interview. (Even better, if you have a job-skills portfolio, Do bring that with you to the interview.)
  9. Don’t rely on your application or resume to Do the selling for you. No matter how qualified you are for the position, you will need to sell yourself to the interviewer.
  10. Do greet the interviewer(s) by title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and last name if you are sure of the pronunciation. (If you’re not sure, Do ask the receptionist about the pronunciation before going into the interview.
  11. Do shake hands firmly. Don’t have a limp or clammy handshake!
  12. Do wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. And Do remember body language and posture: sit upright and look alert and interested at all times.
  13. Don’t fidget or slouch.
  14. Don’t tell jokes during the interview.
  15. Do make good eye contact with your interviewer(s).
  16. Do show enthusiasm in the position and the company.
  17. Don’t smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. And Don’t smoke beforehand so that you smell like smoke. Do brush your teeth, use mouthwash, or have a breath mint before the interview.
  18. Do avoid using poor language, slang, and pause words (such as “like,” “uh,” and “um”).
  19. Don’t be soft-spoken. A forceful voice projects confidence.
  20. Do have a high confidence and energy level, but Don’t be overly aggressive.
  21. Don’t act as though you would take any job or are desperate for employment.
  22. Do avoid controversial topics.
  23. Don’t say anything negative about former colleagues, supervisors, or employers.
  24. Do make sure that your good points come across to the interviewer in a factual, sincere manner.
  25. Don’t ever lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and succinctly. And Don’t over-answer questions.
  26. Do stress your achievements. And Don’t offer any negative information about yourself.
  27. Don’t answer questions with a simple “yes” or “no.” Explain whenever possible. Describe those things about yourself that showcase your talents, skills, and determination. Give detailed examples.
  28. Do show off the research you have done on the company and industry when responding to questions. (See our Guide to Researching Companies.)
  29. Don’t bring up or discuss personal issues or family problems.
  30. Do remember that the interview is also an important time for you to evaluate the interviewer and the company she represents.
  31. Don’t respond to an unexpected question with an extended pause or by saying something like, “boy, that’s a good question.” And Do repeat the question aloud or ask for the question to be repeated to give you a little more time to think about an answer. Also, a short pause before responding is okay.
  32. Do always conduct yourself as if you are determined to get the job you are discussing. Never close the door on an opportunity until you are sure about it.
  33. Don’t answer cell-phone calls during the interview, and Do turn off (or set to silent ring) your cell phone.
  34. Do show what you can Do for the company rather than what the company can Do for you.
  35. Don’t inquire about salary, vacations, bonuses, retirement, or other benefits until after you’ve received an offer. Be prepared for a question about your salary requirements, but Do try and delay salary talk until you have an offer. (You might consider visiting our salary tutorial for more tips and strategies.)
  36. Do ask intelligent questions about the job, company, or industry. Don’t ever not ask any questions — it shows a lack of interest.
  37. Do close the interview by telling the interviewer(s) that you want the job and asking about the next step in the process. (Some experts even say you should close the interview by asking for the job.)
  38. Do try to get business cards from each person you interviewed with — or at least the correct spelling of their first and last names. And Don’t make assumptions about simple names (was it Jon or John?) get the spelling.
  39. Do immediately take down notes after the interview concludes so you Don’t forget crucial details.
  40. Do write thank you letters within 24 hours to each person who interviewed you. (You can see some sample thank-you letters here.) And Do know all the rules of following up after the interview.