How to Ace that Job Interview!

WorkCoachCafeA job interview provides the job seeker with the opportunity to “close the sale” to get the job offer.  In this guest post by job search expert Don Goodman, Don shares 4 great tips for  job seekers to increase their likelihood of making those sales. 

 How to Make a Great Impression in Your Job Interview

By Don Goodman

Congratulations, you have grabbed the attention of the right people, passed the phone screening phase, and are invited in for an interview. This is a big moment and one where you cannot afford to do anything but your best.

Of course, there are other qualified candidates interviewing, so here are 4 key tips for you to ace the interview:

1.  Be likeable.  People hire people they like.

This is very important to remember, and it is how you overcome any factors that you might think are against you, such as age or lack of years of experience. Your goal in the interview is to build rapport and get them to want to work with you.

I recently coached a fellow who was a high level product manager at Intel and had sterling technical credentials. He was getting a lot of interviews, but no call backs. After doing a mock interview, the reason was clear – he was dry and boring and had as much personality as a memory chip. I showed him how to lighten up, ask questions, and build rapport, and he had 4 offers in 4 weeks.

2.  Act like this is your dream job.

Even if you are not that interested in the job consider this interview as good practice, and be aware that companies hire people who want to join them.

I know an executive who lost a great opportunity because he was trying to play it cool and wanted them to court him. They rejected him because he didn’t seem enthusiastic about the position.

3.  Be prepared.

Research the company, and also make sure you have researched the interviewer. Go to LinkedIn, see how long they have been there, where they came from, and what interests you might have in common. See if they have comments in LinkedIn discussions and Twitter. [More: How to Knock Their Socks Off in a Job Interview]

A recent client got the job by praising the discipline he gained from his military background, knowing full well that the interviewer had been a Colonel in the Air Force.

4.  Make a great first impression.

Interviewers will make a quick decision as to whether they like you in the first 120 seconds so this cannot be overemphasized. Here are some quick tips:

  • Do not be too early, and never be late. You should show up no more than 10 minutes before the interview.
  • Respect the Receptionist. Make believe you are on camera from the time you hit the lobby, and recognize that the receptionist is usually your first point of contact. We always used to ask the receptionist what they thought of candidates as it was a good indicator of how they treated people. If they were condescending they would be eliminated, so be friendly and professional.
    The Wall Street Journal reported that one firm even asks the receptionist if the candidate washed their hands after going to the bathroom (you can hear the sink from their lobby).
  • Energy level. Show some bounce in your step and act like you are excited to be there.
  • Eye contact. Look the interviewer right in the eye and SMILE like you are happy to see them. People instinctively react well to happy, smiling people.
  • Watch your handshake. A dead-fish handshake is the kiss of death. If you are worried about sweaty palms, put baby powder in your pocket or rub your hands with antiperspirant. Test your handshake with your family. Women in particular tend to overcompensate and shake hands too hard.
  • Dress appropriately. You can never go wrong by dressing conservatively but a good tip is to call the receptionist and say “I am coming in for an interview and just wondered if you could help me. What is the dress code there?” Receptionists generally love to help.
  • Watch your body language. Your body language and intonation count for 88% of the effectiveness of your communication and how you come across. Make sure you maintain good eye contact and sit appropriately (no slouching and not too stiff).
     To project confidence and engagement, sit on the chair with your lower back touching or close to the back panel while leaning 10 degrees forward. Keep your hands relaxed in your lap and feet grounded on the floor. When standing, avoid crossing your arms or placing them in your pockets. The point is to project a balanced posture that is not limp or overly stiff.
    Mirroring is a great technique where you follow the posture of the interviewer. That being said, you need to be careful not to be too obvious and clearly if they put their feet up on the desk, that is not a signal that you should too.

These tips will ensure you make a great first impression.

Next Time

In Don’s next post, he will go over the mechanics of the interview and show you how to turn it into a conversation.

© Copyright, 2012, Don Goodman. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

About Don Goodman

Don Goodman, a professional resume writer and President of About Jobs (, a resume writing and job search assistance company, is the Information Technology (IT) Job Search Expert for  Find more of Don’s articles (which usually have applicability and insight beyond only IT  job search) in Job-Hunt’s IT Job Search column.

A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Executive Program, you can read Don’s blog at call him at 800-909-0109 or e-mail him at dgoodman [at] You can also follow him on Twitter at @JobExpert.

More About Acing Job Interviews

10 Steps to Successful Job Interviewing

Knock Their Socks Off in Your Next Job Interview

18 Practical Tips to Help You Ace Your Job Interview

How to  Quickly Build Your Confidence for Job Interviews


  1. Great Article. I have a quick question for you. It may not be pertaining to this article, but its pretty close in terms of relation. So I am currently interviewing with this company and I had my first round interview a couple of weeks ago and I was contacted for a second round interview. Now, my question is not what to expect. But it rather goes this way, my first round was conducted by potential supervisor if hired and he pretty much asked me everything there is to ask. The second round interview however is with a staff manager? I’ve never had an interview with a staff manager and I absolutely have no experience in facing one. Would you be able to provide some insights as to what can be expected in an interview with the staff manager? What questions can be expected and such? I appreciate your feedback.

    • Hi Sam,

      I wouldn’t stress over it. The staff manager is likely simply following up on the recommendation of the potential supervisor. You may be asked additional questions re: paperwork, references, a potential background check and stress questions such as “tell me about a time you disagreed with someone and how you resolved it.” The key is to keep your calm, avoid getting defensive, and be yourself. Never forget that their objective is to make an offer — and it might as well be to you.

      So when you are asked a question that you don’t have the answer to yet — tell them how you might go about finding it. If you’re asked about your credit and it isn’t perfect — say what happened if it is relatively minor and explains the situation.

      Good luck and all the best overall.


      • Chandlee,

        So why an interview with the staffing manager? I mean by the look of the questions that you posted, it seems like its more towards HR type questions. Is it common to have a staffing manager interview you? I’ve never been interviewed by one before

  2. Great tips – If you’re interviewing with a large company, there are forums to find out more information on what to expect or actual interview questions. Some site below where you can find the info.

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