Helpful Hints

Let's face it, interviewing is scary. Everyone wants to be as prepared as possible before the face to face meeting, but how do you do that? Below is a list of helpful hints and answers to some of those tough questions that you are often asked.

If you have any other helpful hints or jobs sites that I haven't listed here, please feel free to email me and let me know.

Helpful Hints:

1. Dress appropriately for the interview. It doesn't matter if you're applying to be a ditch digger, wear a suit.

That means; for the gentlemen, a pressed, clean, button down shirt, a tie that doesn't include a wacky saying or cartoon animal, matching (preferably) jacket and trousers, matching dark socks and polished shoes. That's dress shoes, not tennis shoes!

Do not wear jeans and a t-shirt or polo shirt, not even to a Job Fair. Yes, I know they're cattle calls, but those are prospective employers and you won't be hired if you look like a slob. They won't even take your resume. If they do take it, I guarantee it will be tossed out as soon as your back is turned.

For the ladies; A skirt or trouser suit, nylons with no snags or runs (always bring an extra pair with you for just in case), and polished shoes. As mentioned above, don't wear jeans, even to a job fair.

If you need a suit: I just bought a Calvin Klein designer suit at Filene's Basement for $20, marked down from $80. I always find great deals there. They have a men's and women's section. Look at the clearance racks for the best deals. I bought my last three suits there and the most I paid was $30!

2. For both men and women, make sure your hair is neat and combed. That also means that if you dye your hair; take care of that 2 inch growth that stands out like a sore thumb. And, if your hair is several colors, pick one natural color and dye it all that color. You can go back to the purple streaks AFTER you land the job.

As an aside, if you have gray hair, unfortunately it makes you look old. Although prospective employers are not supposed to judge you on age, they do. Consider dying your hair. You'll be amazed at how young you look! You don't have to do anything drastic. If your hair was brown before, dye it brown. You want to stay close to your natural color as possible.

Men, if you have a beard or mustache make sure it's neatly trimmed. You don't want to look like a caveman. You can dye your facial hair to match your hair. There are products on the market for that purpose like "Just for Men".

3. If you have any piercings, remove them. There is nothing that distracts a prospective employer more than watching your piercings move with your facial expressions, or that tongue ball bobbing up and down in your mouth. The only piercing should be earrings, matching and tasteful, in women's ears.

The same for tattoo's. If you have tats, cover them before your interview. Even though you think that they're great, a prospective employer may not. Cover it/them with clothing or theatrical make-up.

4. Turn your cell phone off! Nothing is more important than the interview. If your phone goes off in the middle of the interview, or worse, you take the call, the prospective employer can no longer take you seriously. You just told them by your actions that your phone is more important that they are.

If, you accidentally leave it on and it goes off, apologize immediately and shut it off! Don't look at who called, just hit the off button. Whoever it was will leave a message if it's important.

5. Language: Be careful what you say. Even if the person interviewing you is swearing up a storm, DO NOT SWEAR! And please use proper grammar! You're not hanging out with your buddies here. Oh and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER bad mouth your old boss(es)! You come across as whiny and, what if they person you're interviewing with knows your old boss? Talk about awkward!

6. Hygiene: Shower, wash your hair, use deodorant. No one wants to smell body odor. Also, lay off the perfume and cologne. It's easy to over do it and many people are allergic. Ladies, keep your make-up neat and at a minimum. You're not going out to a club.

If you smoke, don't do it before the interview. You may not realize it, but you reek. That smell stays on you. I would even suggest that you keep your interview suit away from anywhere you smoke at home so it doesn't absorb the smell.

7. The Resume: Plain white or ivory paper. No scents, no artwork, no pictures of you or your dog.

There are different ways to list your work experience. I prefer chronological order. (Latest job first). Whatever style you decide on, bring three to four copies with you to the interview. This way, if you interview with more than one person, they can each have their own copy. I also keep one copy out in front of me so I can refer back to it for experience and duties.

If you have recommendation letters, bring copies with you. It's impressive to hand over your resume with your letters of recommendations. It shows you're organized and, your previous employers thought well of you. If you can't get your boss to write you a letter, ask a co-worker. They probably know you better than the boss does anyway.

If you have a copy of your last review (and it's good) bring a copy with you. I was able to impress a prospective employer by showing them my last review in which I was considered to be a highly valued employee.

In short, you can't be too prepared for the interview. (I tuck needle and thread, as well as a couple of safety pins, into my bag in case a button comes loose or a hem falls. I also bring a small can of hairspray and static guard. You never know what could happen on the way to the interview.)

Ok, now the answers to some of those tough questions:

These two are almost always asked:

1. What are your strengths? Ok this one is actually pretty easy. What are you good at? Tell them.

2. What are your weaknesses? On the flip side to the easy question above, no one wants to admit they have a weakness. I thought long and hard about this one. I finally came up with an answer that my unemployment counselor thought was brilliant and wants to borrow for his classes: I wouldn't say I have any weaknesses per se. There are just some things that I may not be as good at as others, but I consider them to be learning opportunities. Every time I do something, I get better at it.

In order to be thorough, instead of listing a bunch more questions here, I'm going to provide you with some links to sites that help answer all those pesky questions. They're the same ones I used when I was looking for those very same answers.

You'll also want to prepare questions to ask your interviewer. At the end of the interview, when they ask if you have any questions (and they will ask), to say no makes it sound like you're not interested.

Some of the links below will help you with the questions to ask. One question I always ask about is continuing education. If I show interest in taking classes to in order to better myself in the position, it shows I'm willing to do whatever it takes to be a better team member. It also indicates you're committing to the long term with that employer.

Interview Questions and Answers1

Interview questions and answers 2 This site also has questions you can ask to your prospective employer

10 tough questions and answers

Killer job interview questions and answers This one is really good!

50 common interview questions

Questions to ask at the interview 1

Questions to ask at the interview 2 This also lists a few questions NOT to ask.

Questions to ask at the interview 3

These should get you started. You can also Google this topic for additional questions and answers.

At the end of the interview, don't be afraid to ask for the job. I usually end the interview with "When are you looking to have someone in the position" or if I feel really confident the interview went well, "So, when can I start?" and smile.