Interview Must Dos For Success

Five Essentials For A Successful Interview


Whether you are a seasoned interviewee or you are heading into your very first one there are certain things you must do to ensure a successful interview.


Research the company

You spend a lot of time working on yourself in order to get the interview. You ensure you have the qualifications necessary to peruse the career you’re after. You network, you volunteer. You prepare a resume and cover letter specifically geared to this job. You are very self centered – as you must be. Now it’s time to look outward. Once you have an interview lined up your first priority is to get to know the company. Of course you will check out their website, but don’t stop there. Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Get a feel for their company culture, their attitude. If come across any news, bring it up in the interview. Make sure the interviewer understands you are not just looking for a job, you are looking for a job with them.


Decide where you would like to fit

You have done a lot of research into this company. Is the position you’re applying for where you want to stay or is it a starting point? Have a plan for your future with this company and be ready to explain it. Ensure the interviewer understands why you are a great fit for the job at hand and explain how you can be an asset to the company down the road. Create a future picture for the company in their mind with you in it.


Prepare answers to common interview questions

There are questions common to just about every interview. Tell me about yourself, What are your greatest strengths etc. Here are some from Inc. Here are some more from Workopolis. Review these questions and have well thought out, professional answers.


One of the questions they will ask you is, Do you have any questions for us?


No I think you’ve covered everything during the interview is the wrong answer.  Demonstrate how excited you are about the position with the right questions. To help you figure out what those might be, check out these examples from Big Interview.


Don’t forget what your body is saying

You’ve prepared what’s going to come out of your mouth. Now don’t forget the reams of things you will say silently. If your mouth says one thing and your body says another, chances are the interviewer will go with the things unsaid with words.


Even if you are a walking nerve, your body language doesn’t have to be any indication of that. All you need to remember is to keep eye contact, sit up straight, smile, breathe (always breathe) and listen to what the interviewer is saying. Meaning don’t spend all your time thinking ahead to what you are going to say next. Really listen to the interviewer, nod, lean in a little.


Follow up

The interview is not over until you have sent a thank you note. Thank them again for the interview, quickly bring up a point of discussion you had and reiterate your interest in the position. Here are a few examples from the balance careers


Put Some Muscle Behind The Greatest Strength Question

Put Some Muscle Behind The Greatest Strength Question

Questions you’re likely to see in a job interview include: Where do you see yourself in 5 years. Tell me about yourself. What is your greatest strength? What is your greatest strength seems like one of the easier ones. Don’t take it too lightly. This question gives you the opportunity to really sell yourself and your abilities. More than the others, is designed to see if you’re the right fit for the job.

Do Your Research

The first thing you want to do is some research. Find out what the company values. What traits do they look for in employees? Take a look at the job description and see what the job requirements are. What seem to be the most important ones? Choose strengths that align with those traits.

Quality Over Quantity

When it comes time for you to consider what strengths you want to mention at your interview, focus on quality rather than quantity. Mentioning a whole host of things you consider yourself good at only shows you’re not great at anything. Focusing on only a couple things you consider your strengths will allow you to paint a stronger picture of yourself and those talents.

Back It Up

When you’ve picked the strengths that best suit the job and position, make sure you have specific stories you can use to demonstrate those qualities. Talk about how and where you developed the skills and instances where they have proven useful. It’s easy to say you have a given strength, it’s much more impressive when you can give specific examples.

That Balance Careers has a couple examples of how to best answer this question, here’s one:


“I am a skilled salesman with over ten years of experience. I have exceeded my sales goals every quarter and I’ve earned a bonus each year since I started with my current employer.”


In this short example, a strength is given, and followed up with proof. Do the same, and you’ll knock this interview question out of the park. Good Luck!


Can The Interviewer Ask That?

Can The Interviewer Ask That?

Handling Illegal Interview Questions

All the work you spent perfecting your resume has paid off. You researched the company, thought about answers and you’re ready. This is a job you want and you don’t want to mess anything up. Then your interviewer asks you something that doesn’t sound quite right. With a sinking feeling you begin to wonder if that question is even legal.

What can you do? You want this job but you’re pretty sure the question is out of line. We’re here to help you understand what qualifies as an illegal interview question, and how you can answer them.

What is an Illegal Interview Question?

Sitting in an interview, some job applicants tend to believe that the interviewer would never ask inappropriate questions. Unfortunately this isn’t the case. More than likely you’ll run into someone asking you questions they shouldn’t at some point in your career. Here are a few things interviewers are not allowed to ask.

Anything relating to your family, nationality, gender, race, sexual orientation, criminal record or religion. These questions aren’t always easy to spot. Interviewers might not ask your age specifically, but they might word the question in such a way as to determine how old you are.

Forbes gives us one thing to keep in mind. “…many times, illegal questions aren’t asked with ill intent. An inexperienced interviewer may say something like, “That’s a beautiful accent. Where are you from?” as a way to spark conversation. She might not realize the question is illegal, or may not know how to frame the question in a legal way.”

How to Answer Illegal Interview Questions

If you’re asked these questions, there are a number of ways to handle the situation. One suggestion comes from Business Insider.

“If you are asked any inappropriate questions, Adelson advises not to lie, but, instead, politely decline to answer.”

Declining to answer may prove to be awkward, especially if the interviewer didn’t intend to ask an inappropriate question. If you feel the question was asked without ill intent, aim to answer the question, and simply leave out the bit you feel is out of line.

Interview Examples

For example, let’s say your interviewer asks you if, as a woman you feel you’d be able to manage a team of men. Describe your abilities as a manager, and successes you’ve had in a management role. Don’t bother mentioning anything about genders in your reply. It’s more than likely in this example that the interviewer will be satisfied with your response and move on.

If you find that you aren’t comfortable answering the question as asked, another option is to ask the interviewer to rephrase. Again, this can be awkward but it will show your confidence.

An example here would be if your interviewer asked: “Do you practice a religion that has specific holidays on weekends?” you could respond with “While I don’t feel comfortable discussing my religion, perhaps you could rephrase the question so I can give you a clearer answer.”

Handling Illegal Interview Questions

Getting asked an illegal interview question is never fun, and making sure you stand up for yourself in this situation can be nerve-wracking. But if you’re able to maintain your confidence and answer appropriately and politely, you’ll impress your interviewer and you may have an even better shot at landing the job!

Finding A Balance Between Spending And Saving

Finding A Balance Between Spending And Savingook

You may have had a summer job through school. No doubt the first time you got paid felt like you were the richest person on the planet, but nothing quite compares to the first paycheck you get with a brand new job. With the promise of more paychecks coming, and the beginning of a career underway, where will you spend your hard earned cash? It’s your first paycheck, so you should treat yourself right? Hold on for a moment. There are a couple things you should do first.


Make Sure You Understand it


Your paycheck has a number of pieces of information on it. You’ll see the amount you made during the last pay period, the amount you’ve made to date and the deductions on your pay. Make sure you understand these and that you know what they should be. There’s nothing worse than a clerical error that costs you money that you don’t even notice.

Put 10% into Savings


This doesn’t sound like much fun, but it will always pay off later. Get used to putting money away now to get in the habit. The longer you wait to start saving, the harder it will be. Putting a percentage of every paycheck into savings gets you used to the practice and it adds up quickly.


Start a Budget


Now you know how much you’ll be making every month. Start to plan around that. Look at your expenses like bills, rent and food. Once all of your bills are paid, how much do you have left over? Starting a budget early will help you stay out of debt and will give you a clear indication of how fiscally sound you are.


Look at the Long Term


You’ve got the month-to-month down and you’re putting some money into savings every paycheck. Now’s the time to look long term. Are you going to be in the market for a new car? Maybe a house in a number of years? Keeping these long term goals in mind will help you aim towards them and adjust your spending accordingly.




Once you’ve done all the work of understanding your money, then you get to treat yourself. You’ve earned it after all. Your hard work and dedication have provided you with your first paycheck! Give yourself a pat on the pack and a little something else!

Never Written A Cover Letter Before?

Never Written A Cover Letter Before?

When you first start looking for a job, one of the top things on your To Do list should be to write a cover letter. Some job seekers might think the cover letter is a formality that you add to your resume. They couldn’t be more wrong. Cover letters are the personal introduction to your resume’s more formal application. Hiring managers will go through the cover letter first before even looking at your resume. Here is our guide to the cover letter for beginners.

First Things First

Before we get going, there are a couple quick tips to keep in mind. says: “Keep it short. I started putting word limits on cover letters because I couldn’t stand, nor did I have the time to read, the especially long letters I’d receive.”

Another thing to keep in mind is writing in a personable tone. The cover letter is a chance for you to bring out a little bit of your personality. Keep things professional, but don’t be afraid to let some of you shine through.

Addressing the Letter

Beginners often start their cover letters with “To Whom It May Concern’. Always try your hardest to find the name of the person in charge of hiring. If a job is posted on LinkedIn you will be able to see the name of the person who posted the job. If a job posting doesn’t give you a name, call the company, mention that you’re applying for the job and ask if there is someone you can address your cover letter to.

Starting your cover letter off with “To Whom It May Concern” or “Dear Hiring Manager” isn’t going to get your cover letter thrown out, but having the right person’s name there gets you off on the right foot.

First Paragraph

Introduce yourself, note the position you’re applying for and give a reason or two why you want this specific job. Note something specific about the company, the way they do business or someone you know working there. Demonstrate that you’ve researched the company and the position you want.

Second Paragraph

This is the meat and potatoes of your cover letter. In this paragraph you want to talk about you, what you’ve done and what you can bring to the company. Focus on what the job posting mentioned as key responsibilities and qualifications needed for the position. Mention successes you were a part of in your last job. You want the person reading your cover letter to come away thinking, “this person is perfect for the job”.

Final Paragraph

This is where you wrap it all up. Reiterate the fact that the skills you have are a perfect match for the awesome company you’re applying to.

Finally make sure you let the hiring manager know what the next step is. A lot of job postings say that they will contact you. In this case, make sure you include something along the lines of “I look forward to hearing from you.”

If it is not expressly stated that you will receive a call, we suggest something like “I will follow up with you in a week’s time.” This lets the hiring manager know exactly what to expect.

The Cover Letter for Beginners

You’ve now got a great cover letter to go along with your resume. Writing from scratch can be tough though. offers a great example of a cover letter.

Avoid These Interview Pitfalls

Avoid These Interview Pitfalls

After all your hard work perfecting your resume and writing an on the mark cover letter the last thing you want to do is bungle the interview.  Here are ten common interview pitfalls. Be aware of them and you won’t fall in!

Not Dressing the part

Remember you are making a strong impression on your interviewer before a single word comes out of your mouth. Even if the job or workplace is on the casual side that doesn’t mean you come into the interview wearing jeans and a sweatshirt.  Come in looking like a professional. Whether the interview is formal or casual, here are a few tips from the balance careers


Coming late

Plan your route the day before your interview and check expected traffic conditions the morning of so you can plan to arrive fifteen minutes early.  That way if there are any unforeseen problems you’ve given yourself some buffer time. If something does come up that makes it impossible for you to arrive on time get in touch with someone at the location and let them know.


Forgetting your phone is the enemy

As soon as you arrive at the interview turn your phone off. If it rings, if you play with it, if you are distracted by it, you are letting the interviewer know exactly where your priorities lie.


Ignoring your homework

Prior to the interview you should have researched the company in detail, read their website, perused all their social media sites. Have a fact or statistic about the company in your pocket to bring out when the opportunity arises.


Being dishonest

Ignore the impulse to embellish your skills and experiences. First off, honesty is always the best policy. Second if you are not caught in the lie during the interview (a few probing questions is all it will take) it will come back to haunt you should you get the job.


Failing to listen

No matter how nervous or distracted you may feel, it imperative you give the interviewer your full attention. You do not want them to have to repeat what they’re saying.


Jumping ahead

There is a time to talk about benefits and salary, but that is not at the beginning or  middle of the interview


Not tooting your own horn

You don’t want to sound overly confident in an interview (or appear overly nervous) but you do want to convey your strong attributes. Be able to explain how your experiences and strengths will benefit the company. Make sure they understand you believe yourself the best person for this job and why before you leave the interview.


An inability to answer standard interview questions

Tell me about yourself. Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses? There are standard questions you will hear at every interview. Be prepared to answer them. Here’s a list of the 27 most common interview questions and answers from Inc.


Not asking for the job

Of course you want the job, you came to the interview dressed for success and prepared with all the right answers but the last thing you need to do is ask for it. That doesn’t mean ending with, Will you please give me this job? Rather summarize your discussion, ask if there’s anything else they need, and express your interest in the position again. Here are ten examples from US News

What To Expect When You Get Your First Job

What To Expect When You Get Your First Job

Getting your first job is an important career milestone. Sure, you have probably worked internships and part-time jobs before, but nothing will prepare you for your first real job.


Because working part-time or doing an internship is one thing, having a certain position is completely different. In most companies, interns and part-time workers simply don’t have the same amount of responsibilities as full time employees. From office politics to how to compose an email, everything you’ve previously known will be challenged.


1) Adjustment Period


The adjustment period is the time that passes between your first day at work and the moment when you feel that you have mastered your daily, weekly, and monthly tasks. The adjustment period can take a week, a month, or several months, depending on your responsibilities. A common mistake during this period is to believe that college taught you everything you need to know. College simply gave you the basics, so you will need to learn on the job. It’s important to be open to learning during this period, ask as many questions as you need to – but make sure to really learn and not ask the same questions over and over again.


2) Office Politics


Do not expect to walk in the door on your first day and meet your next best friend. When you get a job, chances are there will not be any other new people at the office ready to bond with you. In addition, getting too close to some coworkers might get you pulled into office politics, gossip that can have terrible consequences that might get you fired. So, keep to yourself and take your time to get to know everyone, and keep the gossip to yourself. Pay attention to your coworkers. Watch their manner of conduit among themselves and with their superiors It will teach you how to behave in the office and how to dress.



3) Freedom and independence


Your first real job will come with a lot of responsibilities and tasks – and a lot of trust from your employer to do those tasks correctly. You might be monitored during the training period – if you have one – but chances are, you will be left on your own. There will be no professors to tell you that you’re doing something wrong. You can wing it and pretend you know everything and make catastrophic mistakes with this type of freedom. You may abuse your time in the office and not complete your tasks, or you might be terrified that everything you do is wrong. However, keep in mind that you can always learn and avoid mistakes by knowing where to seek the help you need.


4) Finding a balance


Many people think that it’s necessary to overachieve on your first job. You might work at a small company where everyone’s progress is completely visible. If you’re an overachiever, you may face some consequences. Your boss might begin to abuse your enthusiasm to pile your desk with more tasks, your coworkers might act cold towards you because you’re making them seem slow, or you might burn yourself out until you cannot face going to work another day.


It’s important to find a balance – don’t be slow, but do not overdo it either. Build up your career with patience, and master your skills by improving them daily. Burning yourself out will not be good for you, because once you slack, your employer will notice, which might lead to getting fired.


5) Moving on


Your first job doesn’t mean you need to keep working throughout your professional career. Remove the stars from your eyes and look critically at your workplace. Are the conditions good? Do you get good benefits? Will this position enable you to move forward in your career, or is it a dead end?


Just because you’ve finally landed your first job, it doesn’t mean that you cannot move on to bigger and better things if the chance arises. So, keep your eyes peeled for opportunities, just in case, and in the meantime, remember that nothing is permanent, not even your first job.


Article provided by Wonderlic Test Prep.