Interviewing Protocol: A Refresher on the Dos and Don’ts

While it’s something pounded into the minds of most jobseekers, the list of interview dos and don’ts is extensive and always worthy of re-mentioning. The interview is one of the single most important aspects on landing the position, second to your resume. The interview, whether a phone interview or in-person, gives recruiters and hiring managers their first true impressions of you. It’s the time when you can make or break an opportunity.


Dress professionally. Unprofessional attire, including your hairstyle and accessories, can lead an interviewer to the wrong conclusion (or right conclusion, depending on how you look at it). In short, dress to impress. This is your golden opportunity to shine. If you’re unsure of the business’ dress code or standard, kick it up a notch. A safe bet for most positions is a shirt and tie for gentlemen, slacks or a nice skirt and top for females. Wear closed-toe shoes and keep costume jewelry to a minimum (for many positions, but certainly not all).


Chew gum or bring in a drink. Chewing gum just prior to the interview is an ideal way to freshen breath, but be sure to dispose of it before you meet your interviewer. This goes for phone interviews, as well. Even if you’re not actively chewing the gum, there is a distinct difference in your annunciations and speaking when you have something in your mouth.


Listen intently to your interviewer and be sure you understand all of the questions. They have important questions for you and your answers could make or break your opportunity.


Interrupt your interviewer. Wait until he is done speaking to bring up any concerns or ask for further clarification. If you’re participating in a phone interview, never put the interviewer on hold or ask for them to “hold on for a moment.”


Bring your cell phone into an interview. There are some instances when a cell phone may be needed during an interview, particularly if you are going to be filling out paperwork and need specific information that is stored on your phone. If this is the case, ensure your phone is on silent (SILENT, turn off the vibration, too).


Remember the interviewer is a person, just like you, but one that is playing an integral part in your future. Smile, indulge in their small jokes (if they offer them) and be friendly, yet professional. This is a relationship-building procedure, even if you won’t have contact with the interviewer after you’ve received the position. This is your chance to show off your personality (professionally) to help you build a relationship with your potential employer.

The goal is to impress your interviewer and land the job. This means being professional throughout the entire duration of the interview, making eye contact, smiling and showing the interviewer that you have what it takes to be part of their team.

How to Answer that Tough Interview Question “Tell Me About Yourself”

 One of the most frequently asked questions in an interview is “tell me about yourself.”  This is often the dreaded question by the interviewee – concerned about what the interviewer really wants to know, and how much should one really tell?

 Here are a few tips on answering that question while still gaining ground in your interview.

 First, remember you are still in an interview and while inserting something about your personal life is appropriate here it is not required, nor should it be the primary focus. The question is simply asked to get to know your personality better, your likes, dislikes, strengths, challenges, and weaknesses. 

 If you answered the question by saying in my personal life I don’t do much, but watch a lot of TV and hang out with my friends – well, I’m not so sure it would look that great.  That’s totally okay if you do, but remember the place and the setting of your answer!

Tell the interviewer something they can work with – I love to travel, most recently I went to X. I have the work hard, play hard mentality. Or perhaps you could say that you enjoy being spontaneous and creative, the last trip you took you simply went to the airport and chose a city to travel to.

This question gives you an opportunity to focus on your strengths and talents while utilizing personal examples or professional ones.

You can also answer this question by saying what you like in professional settings. For example, you could say I really thrive in a team environment; I like working with others, and having the ability to brainstorm and feed off each other. I’ve always been a team player. I played sports growing up and a team environment reminds me of that camaraderie.  

Think about some of your strengths and talents and see how you can turn those into a story to answer this question.

Some people get caught up when asked what are your top 3 strengths or challenges and rattle off a few things, but this question and the stories and illustrations you can use here can either support that or discount it.

Finally, just be yourself. This question also gives the interviewer a chance to connect with you on a personal level. Interviewee: I want to Xyz College Interviewer: I went there too, or my wife, or my niece, etc – you get the picture!

Job Seekers – 11 Critical Success Factors!

Critical Success Factors Exist in Everything We Do; How Are Yours When It Comes To Your Job Search?

Critical success factors apply to everything we do in life and our job search is no exception. Have you ever taken time to categorize and understand what job search, not employment, but job search skills you must have to be successful?

Critical Success Factors

The Critical Success Factors that a job seeker must possess include:

  1. The ability to move on and leave the past behind you.
  2. The understanding that spending your time blaming something or someone will not move you forward.
  3. A personal network that can be tapped for information and help.
  4. The ability to grow and develop a network where sharing and caring are mutual.
  5. An appearance and wardrobe that are appropriate for the opportunity. If you are not sure what is appropriate, contact someone that works there or camp out in the parking lot and observe the people coming and going.
  6. A specific goal. If you present as a “jack or jill of all trades” that will be the type of job and pay level that you receive.
  7. A value proposition. What makes you different and sets you apart? Why should the hiring manager; hire you?
  8. A resume that tells the YOUR story.
  9. Interviewing skills.
  10. A learning mentality
  11. A Social Networking presence that compliments YOUR resume.

This next section addresses a couple of these success factors in more detail. Watch for future discussions of the remaining factors.

My Job Is Gone – Now What?

Many jobs that disappeared will never come back. Either they have gone off-shore, been replaced by technology, or it was determined they did not provide the value to keep them. This does not mean that the person in the job was not valuable, but that the position did not provide the necessary value.

If your job was out sourced overseas or replaced by technology; you must be looking at how you can transition your skill set to another career. You may find a similar position, but chances are that, at the new company, the position will eventually be replaced and in the meantime the pay is most likely not at your previous level.

You Must Constantly Be Updating Your Skills

We all must be continually updating our skill sets. If you are not moving forward, there is no standing still; just falling further and further behind. The ball is truly in your court and you must make the most of it. You can ONLY do this by building your skills.

Continuing education speaks to recruiters and hiring managers. They want to know that they are hiring someone that cares about their own well being! If you are not working to improve your skills, do you really care about YOU? Are YOU important to yourself? If you do not care about yourself, why should the believe that you will care about your job and their business? The action of not participating in self improvement speaks volumes.

Copyright Tom Staskiewicz

About the Author

“Who Knows You?” and “Are You Attracting the Attention You Want?” Following the critical success factors can help you get the following you want and create the brand you need.

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Taming Your Internal Dragons in Your Job Search

You’ve received the call about the upcoming interview and you are thrilled about the potential idea of a new position with this incredible company. You call your closest friends and cheer with excitement, but then suddenly the internal dragons come out and seek to sabotage your win.


The internal dragons that live within us tend to rear their ugly heads during the interview and job search process. You may think to yourself that “this one won’t work out either” or “they only chose me because of xyz.”  Whatever thought comes to mind, tame your dragons by thanking them for doing their job to protect you and then play the “what if” game.


This means that you take the thought that came up for you and then change it around to say “what if this one doesn’t work out?” “What if they only want me to interview because of xyz?”  When you embrace the dragon and work with it instead of against it you remove its power.


It is important to take back your personal power, especially during the job search, as it is far too easy to get into a rut, doubt your own worth, and question whether or not searching for a new position really is the right thing to do. As a painless as the process feels, there are millions of success stories of people who waited out the storm and were able to find the perfect position that was waiting for them all along.


Are there any good jobs left?

The job boards are often flooded with work-at-home gimmicks and too-good-to-be-true employment offers, it’s no wonder there are so many of you wondering if there are any good jobs left out there. Well, we know there are – you just need to know where to look.

It’s not unheard of that a company will never even release their job opening out into the public. A lot of companies start with their own teams and resources – starting from hiring within and then from asking their current employees “who do you know” that could fit this new position.

A referral from an inside employee is highly regarded, and sets the stage for a faster interview and hire process based on the employee’s recommendation. But this scenario is just one place where the good jobs hide out. Before you throw your hands up in despair, don’t fret. The key to using this resource of finding new jobs is simple – network.

This means letting everyone you know and who is in your sphere of influence know that you are looking for a new position within a particular industry. Be sure to explain what type of jobs they should be on the lookout for and even include your resume for them to pass along to others. It’s not necessarily who you know, but who knows about you that will make all the difference in your job search.

Another resource for finding those hidden jobs is that of utilizing staffing agencies and recruiters. You see, most jobs that are given to these agencies aren’t publicized and the person who is looking for a new recruit taps into their database and resources on who they know that could possibly fill this position. It makes sense for you as a job seeker to make relationships with targeted staffing and recruiting agencies, let them know about your experience, and what you are looking for in a position and company.

Good jobs do exist; however, you may need to use more traditional means of finding them.

On top of these two reasons, we are sure there are many other ways to find the hidden jobs that do exist in today’s market – be creative, keep your ears and eyes open, and don’t give up!

If you’ve ever found a position through these avenues or even something different we’d love to hear about your successes here.