3 Things to Always Do in Interviews (And 3 Things to Never Do)

By Hillary Mantis

By this point in the fall, you have probably gone through a few interviews. On campus interviews, call back interviews, callbacks to the callback interviews, internship interviews; it’s hard to avoid interviews at this busy time of year.

But that’s a good thing — interviews lead to opportunities. If you can conquer your nerves and avoid making classic interview mistakes. Here are a few tips to get you through the maze of your upcoming interviews:

Always:

1. Have several short but concrete examples ready of how you succeeded in the past. Remind yourself of how you initiated new projects, received a promotion, or were otherwise commended. Don’t passively wait to be asked. Find a way to insert your past successes at work into the conversation. While you don’t want to be overly rehearsed, it’s a good idea to prepare answers in advance for questions such as “where do you see yourself in five years?”

2. Have a lot of questions prepared to ask the interviewer. If you are in a callback interview, you might be meeting with a lot of people. You have to make each person count. It’s as if every interview on the callback day is a first interview and treat each one with the same enthusiasm. That includes questions—if you say the other interviewers already answered your questions, that’s not a good sign of your interest.

3. Be very familiar with every job, internship and course you have listed on your resume. If the interviewer chooses to go to the bottom of the page and ask you about an internship from your freshman year of college, you still have to be as enthusiastic about that experience as you are about the internship you held last summer. You never know what will interest them so take some time the night before an interview to review every job and remember what you accomplished. While you are doing that, don’t forget to get back in touch with former supervisors, update them as to your current goals, and ask them to serve as your references. If the interview went well, the interviewer potentially might want to call your references right away.

Never:

1. Ask about salary right away during a first interview. You certainly have a right to know, understand, and even negotiate your salary. But interview etiquette generally calls for you to impress them first, and for them to then bring up salary later, once they are closer to making an offer. At that point, feel free to ask all of the questions you want.

2. Cause yourself to be stressed: Interviews are stressful on their own. So, don’t be late(this actually happened to me once when I got on the wrong subway), be confused as to where the interview location is(get there early and have coffee and time to relax before the interview), or do anything else that will cause you to show up to the interview feeling more stressed than you already are. If you can get there feeling not rushed, not stressed, happy with your interview outfit, and with extra resumes in hand, then you will start the interview on a positive note.

3. Leave an interview without asking them what the next step in the hiring process will be. I’ve met with countless students who were really anxious when they did not hear back right away from interviewers. If you ask them about their general hiring timeline, you will know when to expect to hear from them, and when to follow up.


 

Hillary Mantis works with pre-law students, law students and lawyers. She is Director of the Pre-Law Program at Fordham University and author of career books, including Alternative Careers for Lawyers. You can reach her at altcareer@aol.com.