Congratulations! You received a call from a hiring manager and your interview has been scheduled. Now you are beginning to panic because you feel you may not be prepared. There are key things you can do to increase your chances for a successful interview. The more prepared you are, the less likely you will fumble or show your nervousness to the interviewer.

Your first impression with the hiring agent is the most important. You need to:

  • Dress appropriately – Professional dress, not casual attire, will make it more comfortable for you during the interview.
  • Arrive early – Five to ten minutes prior to the appointment is considered “on time.” Plan for traffic issues, getting lost, and other mishaps. Should you run late, call to let the interviewer know what has happened and provide an estimated arrival time.
  • Introduce yourself – You may meet many people during the interview, from the receptionist to other staff members. Make sure you state your name clearly and shake hands if possible. Eye contact and good manners count when making a first impression. The interviewer will remember someone who is not polished, rude, or can’t look him in the eye.
  • Turn off your phone – You should have no electronic devices turned on during an interview.
  • Avoid conversation fillers – Words like: um, ahh, like, uh, you know, will make you appear unsure and lacking confidence.
  • Avoid “weak phrasing” – Phases such as, “I hope to…”, or “I think that..,” should be replaced with definite statements. Phrases such as, “I am able..,” I have experience..,” or “I can..,” indicate a person who plans on achieving goals.
  • Answer questions honestly – Stay focused, don’t embellish skills, and answer to the best of your ability. Ask for clarification if needed.
  • Watch your body language – Be as relaxed has possible, but don’t fidget or slouch. Place any items that you have brought into the interview on the floor next to your chair. You will be less inclined to fiddle with them. (The exception would be a small pad for notes.)

A successful interview starts with being prepared prior to the appointment. Remind yourself of these steps and you will remain more calm, collected, and positive during your interview.