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Ask A Career Coach - The Five Do's and Don'ts of Interviewing

Do's and Don'ts of InterviewingLet’s face it, landing the big interview can be both exciting and nerve wracking. There is a lot on the line and you want to deliver your best.

So here is a valuable glance at the top Dos’ and Don’ts.


Do your research as you must be prepared. As the saying goes “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Research the company, its business, mission and values, and relevant facts. In the age of instant information, you can find this information on the company’s website, on the company’s LinkedIn profile, on Google, Bing, Glass Door and numerous other sites. Research the interviewers on LinkedIn and Facebook in order to identify a common connection such as career path, former employer, college, or volunteer interest. Make a list of questions to ask the employer. This will show not only your preparation but how you can add value to the organization.

Prepare your “Tell Me about Yourself” marketing statement. Most interviews begin with this question giving you the opportunity to sell your value to the interviewer. Like it or not, most interviewers make a decision within 90 seconds of the interview so seize the moment and include the following in your statement:

A short, beginning sentence summarizing who you are professionally (in present tense)

  • 4 or 5 key skills, strengths, qualifications, achievements
  • Differentiating Statement (what sets you apart from other contenders)
  • Brief summary of your business chronology to show how your key skills have worked for you in the past
  • How you feel your qualifications can best serve the employer
  • Education, certifications, special training that might apply

Prepare a list of your accomplishments and how they relate to the open position. You are in the business of marketing you and what you will provide in return for the salary they are willing to pay. Your accomplishments need to be hard skills: how you can save the company time, money, reduce errors, increase sales, drive process improvements, etc.

Demonstrate your best professional image and genuine personality. People hire people and first impressions are critical. Spend time planning your wardrobe, polishing your handshake, rehearsing the interview and Tell Me Statement, and identifying any distracting non-verbal’s. Rehearse with a friend so that your delivery is natural and you can shine during the stress of the interview.

  • Prepare and take your marketing materials.
  • Extra copies of your resume
  • Business cards
  • A portfolio including copies of special projects/presentations
  • A notepad and several pens
  • List of references


Don’t fail to listen. “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply” (Stephen Covey). Interviewers may repeat the same question in various ways to understand your ability to listen. The goal of the interviewer is to determine if they can work with you and listening is a key attribute to any workplace relationship.

Don’t speak negatively about a former company, supervisor, colleague or the reason for leaving. Answer every question including the difficult ones in a constructive, positive way.

Don’t ask questions about work life balance, the number of sick days, time off or salary until you receive the offer. While these questions are important to determine your fit with the organization, the interview is not about you. It’s about what the company needs and what you can do for the company.

Don’t leave without asking the interviewer about the time frame for next steps or asking for the job if it is a fit. Understanding the time frame will give you the opportunity to follow up if you don’t hear back within the designated time frame.

Don’t forget to follow up with a thank you note within 12-24 hours following the interview. Comment on something from the interview; attach an article that may be of interest to the interviewer; mention supporting information not provided in the interview. This may seem like a small gesture but it will often differentiate you from other candidates.

In summary, a successful interview is the number one reason a candidate is hired. Interviewing is a trained skill. The Frontier Group Career Consultants have extensive experience in preparing candidates with compelling interview techniques and strategies.

Paula Pope is a Senior Career Consultant with The Frontier Group. Her practice specialties are career coaching, outplacement, and talent assessments.