How to prepare for a job interview


You've got 10 minutes to make an impression: Use it wisely. Practical tips about how to dress, what to say, what not to say in a job interview from Carolyn Bigda, reporter for Money Magazine.

How to prepare for a job interview
  • Dress appropriately and conservatively. Suits are safe.
  • Shake hands firmly.
  • Make eye contact.
  • Develop a sales pitch about yourself. Use specific examples of your work and mention key points that will appeal to your interviewer.
  • Practice this sales pitch until it’s routine and easy to deliver calmly and with sincerity.
  • If you were fired from your last job, be honest, but positive. No negative remarks about the former employer.
  • Say you’re looking for the next opportunity, the place to take the next step in your career, or that you’re looking to apply your skills in a different way.
  • Describe examples of your being a team player.
  • Also describe your achievements as a leader.
  • Be specific, detail results you achieved in your former job.

LISA: I'm Lisa Birnbach for You're going for a job interview, how to make the interview work so that you land the job. Carolyn Bigda from Money magazine is with us. How do you do that?

CAROLYN: Well, some surveys show that hiring managers actually make their opinion of you within the first ten minutes of meeting you. So you want to make a really good first impression.

LISA:  How do you do that?

CAROLYN:Well, the first thing is your appearance. You want to walk in wearing a nice, crisp suit, whatever appropriate outfit is for this interview. You want to give a firm handshake and you want to look the hiring manager directly in the eye.

LISA: Don't people know that?

CAROLYN: Yeah, you might be surprised by how many people, they might feel more casual about it or they are shy and they haven't practiced this and they're not used to being assertive and putting themselves out there.

LISA:  What about clothing? If you're working or applying for a job in the fashion industry, shouldn't you be on the conservative side rather than very fashionable? 

CAROLYN: Exactly. I mean the safe bet is always to wear a nice suit, neutral colors, you know come in wearing something that's not too flashy. And just be dressed appropriately. You want to look like you're professional and I think everyone has a sense of what professional is. One other thing you want to practice when you go into this interview is a quick sales pitch about yourself. Something that has bullet points or gets to the heart of what you've done over the past couple of years to impress this manager. Practicing this is key because it has to come across as smooth, but you also want it to have specific examples, maybe, or just some key points that the hiring manager will be really excited about and interested in.

LISA:  But, not so professional that it seems like you're just a sales person.

CAROLYN: Exactly. You want to keep it down to earth and relaxed as much as possible which is why practicing it is a good idea. Because when you've got it sort of routine inside of you, it's much easier to deliver. 

LISA:  Carolyn, what if you've just been fired by your previous employer. Do you have to be honest about that and how do you position that in a job interview?

CAROLYN: You do have to be honest if they do ask you why you left your job, but you want to stay positive on this topic. You don't want to come in as someone who has a lot of resentment or you've got a grudge against your former employer. You know if they ask you why you're looking for a job, a good response is to say you're looking for that next opportunity, to take that next step in your career, to apply your skills in a different way.

LISA:  You want to come across as a team player?

CAROLYN: Yes, coming across as a team player is always key, but also showing leadership skills also impresses employers. So if you can come up with examples of both in your interview those are bonus points basically.

LISA: And obviously, finally, you want to look like a hard worker who will be committed to the mission of the company you're working at. 

CAROLYN: Exactly which is why again showing specific examples of the results that you had at your previous company will really impress your employer because they see that you come in and you have an impact that you will produce. 

LISA:  Carolyn Bigda thank you so much. Again I've learned something new. For I'm Lisa Birnbach. 

meet theexpert
  • Carolyn Bigda

    Carolyn Bigda Money Magazine Carolyn Bigda is a reporter at Money Magazine, covering credit, savings and debt. She writes a weekly syndicated column for the Chicago Tribune, tackling personal finance issues for twenty-somethings. She's been featured in interviews on ABC, CNN and many others, as well as several radio stations. more about this expert »

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