Your First Job Interview: How to Nail It, in 20 Easy Steps!

Oct, 16, 2014

Put your best foot forward, because it’s all about the first impression. Remember: You only have one shot! There are three B’s for every interview: Be prepared, be polite, and be on time. But here are 20 more specific steps to a successful interview:

1. Learn about the company you’re interviewing for. It’s easy to learn about businesses on the Internet. Make sure you show up with a few questions about the job you’re applying for.

2. Go over your answers to any expected questions before the interview.

3. Practice interviewing in the mirror or with friends and family. Don’t laugh: It works!

4. Make sure your resumé is the best it can be. Even if this is your first job interview, bring a resumé that details your education and highlights your strengths. Go online to learn how to write your resumé, and be sure and use spell-check, then have another person proofread it.

5. Dress to impress. Be well groomed and wear understated clothes: nothing too bright, no hoodies or cargo pants or jeans, no short skirt or cleavage, not too much makeup or perfume. The only thing flashy about you should be your smile!

6. Be early. Do a practice run if necessary to figure out how to get to the interview and how long it will take. Try to arrive ten minutes before the interview.

7. Don’t use your cell phone on site. Turn off your cell phone before you enter the building and don’t take it out of your pocket until you leave.

8. Be polite to the receptionist if there is one. In the waiting room, keep to yourself.

9. Use a firm handshake when greeting and saying good-bye to your interviewer.

10. Maintain good eye contact during the interview. Avoid looking down at your shoes.

11. Be aware of your body language. A lot of what we communicate has nothing to do with words. We communicate by the way we sit, stand, tense our facial muscles, tap our fingers, shuffle our feet, and uncross or cross our legs. Without our saying a word, our body language is broadcasting plenty about us!

12. Be calm. Tell yourself that this is a learning experience. If you don’t get hired with this interview, it will still help to prepare you for the next one.

13. Believe in yourself. Remember that if you want something enough, you will figure out how to get it. Persistence and hard work are more than half the battle in anything you do.

14. Don’t joke or babble. Be direct if asked a question. Short and sweet is okay.

15. Take notes if necessary.

16. Be interested in what the interviewer has to say.

17. Do not interrupt the interviewer when he or she is talking. You will get your turn to ask questions.

18. Never chew gum or eat candy during an interview.

19. Thank the interviewer and the receptionist when you leave.

20. Send a handwritten thank-you note within 24 hours so the interviewer will remember you. Lisa Mirza Grotts is a recognized etiquette expert, an on-air contributor, and the author of A Traveler’s Passport to Etiquette. She is a former director of protocol for the city and county of San Francisco and the founder and CEO of The AML Group (, certified etiquette and protocol consultants. Her clients range from Stanford Hospital to Cornell University and Levi Strauss. She has been quoted by Condé Nast Traveler, InStyle magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the New York Times. To learn more about Lisa, follow her on and

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