Tips for Improving Your Interview Skills

Businessman conducting job interview
••• PhotoAlto/Eric Audras / Getty Images

A job interview gives you a chance to shine. What you say and what you do is going to either move you to the next round of consideration for employment or knock you out of contention. It doesn't take much to make an impression - good or bad.

Interviewing is a competitive game, and even little things can make a big difference when you're trying to get hired. If you haven't taken the time to dress appropriately or if you say the "wrong" thing, it could be over before it starts. It's important to be the candidate who makes the best impression, rather than the person who blows the interview and doesn't get a shot at the job.

  1. Improving Your Interview Skills: Take the time to prepare for your interview by knowing what's on your resume, being able to present why you are qualified for the job, to share why you are interested in the company, and by practicing staying calm and focused. It's important to remember that the image the interviewer has of you when he or she first meets you is the one that is going to last. Taking the time to brush up your interview skills before you get on the phone or head out to an in-person interview will help you nail the interview and secure a job offer.
  2. Know the Facts: Review your work history - and make sure what you say matches what's on your resume. Take the time to learn about the company and about the job you're applying for. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to handle interview questions and pitch your qualifications to the hiring manager.
  3. What You Do Say Matters: Your verbal communications are important. Don't use slang. Speak clearly and definitely. If you need to think about a response to an interview question, that's fine. It's better to think before you talk than to stumble over your words. Practice answering some interview questions, so you're comfortable responding to the most common questions employers ask.
  4. What You Don't Say Can Hurt Your Chances: What you don't say can - and will - be used against you in a job interview. If you come to an interview chewing gum or drinking coffee, you will already have one strike against you. Too much perfume or not enough deodorant won't help either.
    Not being dressed appropriately or having scuffed shoes will give you a second strike. Talking or texting on your cell phone or listening to music while waiting to be called for the interview may be your final strike, and you could be done with your candidacy before you even say a word.
    On the flip side, you can use non-verbal communication to impress the interviewer. What you don't say during an interview is as important as what you do say. What's important, when interviewing, is to appear professional and attentive throughout the interview process.
  5. Remember to Focus on Listening: It can be easy to get distracted during a job interview. It's stressful, and you're in the hot seat when it comes to having to respond to questions. That said, if you do your best to listen to what the interviewer is asking, it will be easier to frame appropriate responses. Listen carefully and take the time to frame a thoughtful response to each of the questions you're asked.
  6. Have Questions Ready to Ask: Be prepared to respond when you're asked whether you have any questions. You can ask about the job, the company, and about any details that you'd like to know more about.
  7. Thank Your Interviewer: Before you leave the interview, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time, and for considering you for the position. Then follow up with an email message or thank you letter that reiterates your interest in the position, and your thanks for being considered.

More Job Interview Tips

Review tips for phone interviews, second interviews, lunch and dinner interviews, behavioral interviews, interviewing in public, and more advice for interview success.