Getting Started Job Interview Tips

4 Steps to a Successful Interview

Written by Miranda Pennington

Once your resume and cover letter are polished to perfection, you have to rely on your personal strengths to appeal to a hiring manager. The key is remembering that they want to hire you; their goal is finding the best person for the job, they already hope it’s someone they’ve identified already. Your role is just confirming their belief that it’s you.

1. Ask Questions

It is VITAL that you have thoughtful, relevant questions to ask. What is the interviewer’s favorite part about working there? What’s the collegial atmosphere like? How would your role fit into the company’s larger mission? What else would you need to know to feel confident about starting a new job there?

2. Listen And Focus

I always have a legal pad or notebook in my hands to jot down reminders of what I’m hearing—even if it’s already been mentioned in the job posting, it helps me to recall what we’ve already gone over. Job interviews can be stressful and it’s easy to feel like information is going in one ear and out the other unless you keep some kind of record. It’s also a great place to keep track of your questions until there’s a pause for you to ask them.

3. Be The Best Representation Of Yourself

An overly casual interviewer can be a hurdle. You’ve showed up in a suit, with a briefcase, and copies of your resume on fancy-pants paper… and your prospective supervisor saunters in 15 minutes late wearing jeans and eating a bagel. Join in her self-deprecating laugh if you like, but do keep your professional feet on the floor. Stay grounded and remember she has a job already. You still need to show you can roll with the punches and stay collected when situations become unpredictable.

On the flip side, don’t let an overly formal interview rattle you either; take lots of deep breaths and give thoughtful answers to any questions you’re asked.

4. Negotiate Your Way To A Better Situation

Once you’ve received a job offer is the time to negotiate for anything you feel you need to do your job as well as you possibly can—flextime or a work from home option, for example, or the terms of your quarterly review. Be respectful and appreciative of what you’re offered, but don’t be shy about knowing your value.

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.