Winning the Job


If your resume and job application lead to an interview—congratulations! You might be feeling a little anxious. Don’t sweat it—nerves are normal, but there’s nothing like preparing for an interview to boost your confidence. Here’s how to prepare so you can walk in the door relaxed and ready to win your next great job.

Six Tips for Nailing the Interview


Make a great first impression.

Have you ever heard the expression “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”? Make the extra effort to look your best and be on time. It tells employers you’re a professional. Consider traffic or transit—especially if you’ll be traveling during rush hour.


Get ready to answer a few questions.

You can anticipate at least some of the questions that an employer is likely to ask. Write down your answers and practice them. This way, you’ll appear much more relaxed and at ease—a definite plus! Start with this list:

  • Why did you leave your last job (or why do you want to leave your current job)?
  • What were the most challenging parts of the job, and how did you meet those challenges? Can you share a specific example?
  • What was your favorite thing about your last job?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What makes you the perfect candidate for this job?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Get ready to ask some questions, too.

An interview is also a chance to see if this new job would be a great fit for you. Come prepared to ask questions like:

  • What is a typical day on the job?
  • What qualities make someone successful at this job?
  • Do you offer additional training so employees can grow within the company?

Take an extra copy of your resume with you to the interview.

You may not need it, but having an extra copy is that “extra touch” that your interviewer will appreciate if needed.


Ask when you will hear their decision.

The hiring process can take longer than planned, so give it a little extra time before you contact them to ask if a decision has been made. If your interviewer says, “We’ll only contact you again if we’re interested in making you an offer,” then let it go, relax, and know you’ve done your best.


Write a thank you letter as soon as you can, and remember to proofread it.

The thank you letter (sent by mail or email) is an important and professional last step in the interview process. It shows that you appreciate their interest in you, and it’s one more opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest in them. Try to recount a specific moment in the interview that was meaningful to you.

If You’re Interviewing by Phone

Many employers use phone interviews as a way to screen a large number of candidates and identify the best prospects for the job. This kind of interview generally lasts less than 15 minutes—just enough time for a prospective employer to get an idea of whether or not they think you’d be a good fit.

Even though you’re not in the same room, you should still do your best to impress:

  • Choose a quiet place to have the call.
  • Make sure there won’t be any distractions around you.
  • Charge your cell phone if you are using it for the interview.
  • Have a sheet of notes and questions right in front of you. Before the call, use tips 2 and 3 above to prepare answers to common questions. List questions you’d like to ask.
  • Smile. Yes, smile. Even though they can’t see you, smiling when you talk brightens your voice and makes you sound open and friendly. Radio disc jockeys do this often!


Check out your job center in Baltimore, Chicago, or other locations to get more help preparing for interviews. They also may offer ways to help you practice.



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ResourcesCheck out some ways to get more help with your job and career planning.