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<July 2015>

Current Location: Skip Navigation LinksHome | Get Set for Life | Careers | Interview Skills

Job Readiness - Interview Skills

Job hunting means filling out applications, making telephone calls, going to interviews, etc. It can be a lot of work, but knowing what to expect and having practice answering the questions can make a big difference. If you’re prepared, you’ll have more self-confidence and will do a great job!

If you are applying for a job you will generally need the following:

You will usually be asked to fill out a job application form (either online, by mail or in person) to answer some questions about yourself, your education and work experience and later meet with the potential employer (interviewer) to talk about your skills, education, and experience.

It's not always easy to remember all the facts: dates, addresses, etc., that the application asks for. That is why having a Personal Fact Sheet will be so helpful to you. Whenever you're asked to fill out an application or answer some questions, you can refer to the Fact Sheet. Fill out the Personal Fact Sheet and keep it handy so that you can use it if the need arises.

An important part of any job application is the section that asks for your references. Make sure that the people you choose know you and can say good things about you. Previous employees, supervisors, teachers, principals, etc., are often used as references. Remember to always check with the person before you use him/her as a reference.

Since your application will represent you, it's very important that you fill it out carefully. Here are some hints:

Filling out the application
  • Print neatly.
  • Make sure you spell all the words correctly.
  • Use correct grammar.
  • Follow the directions.
  • Don't leave blanks, if possible.
  • Provide References
  • Provide a phone number and/or email address where you can be reached.
  • Check to make sure the dates are correct.
  • Don't forget to sign and date the application
  • You might be asked to attach a professional looking resume

Interview Tips

Preparation is the key to a successful interview. Spend time getting ready for your interview. Review a list of popular interview questions for teens and the types of responses that are appropriate and review many common interview questions and practice answering them with someone else or in front of a mirror.

Interview questions that YOU should NOT ask and tactics to avoid

  • Do not ask about benefits
    • If you ask about time off or other perks in the first interview, it makes it seem like you are more interested in the benefits than actually working. Wait until the employer brings it up.
  • Do not bad-mouth previous interviewers or employers
    • Once comfortable with an interviewer, you may want to start talking about things unrelated to the interview or bad past experiences with interviewers or bosses. DON'T. Negative talk hurts your chances because no one wants to hire someone who complains or whines.
  • Do not presume.
    • When you're interviewed, avoid being presumptuous about topics such as work hours or desk locations. It makes you look either cocky or inflexible - not good traits for new hires. Employers want workers with affable personalities that go with the flow.

Verbal clues

Our ability to interact with others greatly depends on our ability to communicate effectively. We need to be able to convey our thoughts and feelings to others as well as hear and understand the thoughts and feelings of others. There are two kinds of communication, verbal and nonverbal. Effective communication should consist of:

Filling out the application
  • Express thoughts clearly: good voice, diction, grammar
  • Listen carefully to others
  • Display body language which supports the spoken word
  • Respond confidently to questions asked
  • Remain alert during the interview
  • Do not condemn past employer
  • Express appreciation for interviewer's time
  • Ask questions about the job
  • Respond confidently to questions
  • Keep consistent eye contact
  • Close the interview by summarizing your interest and ask what the next step is

Non-verbal clues

It is important to remember that non-verbal communication is often just as important as what you say. The first seven seconds of the initial meeting sets the tone. You must project vitality, confidence, and attention to detail in the way you dress, your grooming, and your posture.

  • Maintain eye contact - look people in the eye. (If not, they may think you are shy, shifty, distrusting)
  • Avoid fingers under the chin - appears skeptical or superior.
  • Avoid arms folded in front - appears closed minded or unreceptive.
  • Avoid fiddling with anything - you seem nervous and unsure.
  • Avoid nail biting - you seem nervous and panicky.
  • Avoid swinging or tapping feet - you seem hurried or disinterested.
  • SMILE - you seem open, warm and friendly.

Posture Projects Self-Image

  • Lift your chest
  • Keep your head up
  • Straighten your back
  • Stride when you walk
  • Relax your shoulders

Handshakes - These are the handshakes you should avoid:

  • Dead Mackerel: Suggests a weak personality
  • Bone Crusher: Too aggressive
  • Sandwich: Too personal for business
  • Grabber: Too personal for a first meeting

Interview Day

On the big day, remember to:

At the interview...
  • Be on time (10 minutes prior to interview)
  • Go by yourself
  • Look professional
  • Shake hands firmly
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Do not chew gum during the interview
  • Avoid smoking prior to the interview
  • Use proper grammar, not slang
  • Be a good listener
  • Learn the interviewer's name
  • Know what the company does
  • Bring your sense of humor and SMILE!

The person who exudes confidence, walks tall, appears relaxed, and keeps body movement to a minimum is often the most trusted and accepted, and usually gets the JOB!!


Visit Interview Techniques for more tips on what to expect on getting ready for your interview and questions to ask.

Employers use different types of interviews to evaluate candidates for a job. Visit CAREER ONE STOP to explore the different types of interviews, what to expect and tips on how to prepare.