Interview Do's & Don'ts

The recruiters at Delta Staffing have assembled some proven tips to help you in your employment search. Our experience in submitting candidate resumes to hiring managers has helped us combine some useful tips during the resume/application phase. During this phase, we will assist you with cover letter tips, resume rules and guidelines for references. You can also print each section off as a PDF since our suggestions are lengthy.


All Forms are in PDF format. Get Acrobat

Mastering the Telephone Interview

The telephone interview is by far becoming more and more popular. Many job hunters still get that adrenalin rush even with the phone interviews. But following the tips and advice in this article will help you master the phone interview and get you to the next step - the face to face interview.

Often, the first step in the hiring process is the telephone interview.

Companies and the recruiters they employ use the telephone interview to develop a pool of candidates to look at closer, and to pare down the number of applicants for a job opening.

The advantages to the company are:

  • The cost is less.
  • The list of questions can be standardized.
  • The interview can be delegated to a lower level (cheaper) employee.
  • It can be done quickly.
The aims on both sides of the telephone are limited. The caller wants a selection of qualified candidates, and the process screens out many candidates. If the call is a straightforward screening call, the caller will likely ask about your experience, availability and salary requirements. Your strategy is to provide facts that support your resume, with some context about your performance. Try using numbers and facts to be effective, however, you don't want to volunteer anything that could disqualify you . Make every effort to sound professional but not personal, as this call is not to establish rapport. Since you are unlikely to win the job from a telephone interview, your goal is to secure an in-person interview with the person who has the authority to hire. Approach the call with that attitude.

Try to reschedule surprise interviews. Say that you have a conflict and suggest a time you can call back. When you call back, be prepared for the call just as you would for a full-dress interview.

Have ready

  • Pen and paper, a calculator
  • The job ad and the resume and cover letter which you sent in response to the ad.
  • A list of your accomplishments which relate to the job you are discussing.
  • Research you have done on the company.
  • A short list of questions about the job.
  • Your calendar.

The Techniques of a Pro

  • Smile - it comes through in your voice.
  • Speak directly into the phone.
  • Don't smoke, chew gum, eat or drink anything. It all telegraphs to your listener.
  • Stand up. Your voice sounds stronger.
  • Avoid ah, er, hum. This habit is especially noticeable on the telephone. This takes practice. So practice.

For a winning performance

  • Confirm the caller's name and company. Get the caller's telephone number.
  • Be aware that the caller can't see you - can't see your hand gestures, can't see you taking notes.
  • Pace the call. Let the caller do most of the talking, without interruptions.
  • Do use the technique of repeating or re-phrasing questions. It tells the caller that you listened carefully, and gives you time to think about your answer.
  • Avoid the simple yes or no; add selling points at every opportunity.
  • If you need time to think, say so - as in radio, silence during a telephone conversation is dead air time.
  • Compensation issues come at the end of the interviewing cycle, never at the telephone stage. You can truthfully say you don't know enough about the job to state a salary figure. And, of course, you would need a personal interview to really talk with the company. Which is another way to go for the personal interview. Re-affirm your qualifications, express your interest in the job and the company. Say you would appreciate the opportunity to talk about the job further - in person.

Dress for Success

Believe it or not, you are examined from head to toe in all interviews. Not only is your experience and personality sized up...but also your appearance. The dress code for men and women differ substantially so this article is broken up into seperate sections for each gender.

Before you go on that job interview, make sure you read these dressing tips! Many people take for granted the appearance aspect of the job hunting process. The better you are dressed, the more confident you will feel and exude.

There's no impression like the first impression. Initial decisions made about you in the first three minutes of the job interview are nearly irreversible.

The purpose of your clothing is to project an image of professionalism. Consider:

  • Your clothes should subtly add to your appearance. More importantly, clothing shouldn't detract from your business persona.
  • Much as you may want to stand out, wearing the business "uniform" communicates instantly that you are a mature, stable professional and a member of the team.
  • Even if the internal dress code is very casual, your interviewing attire should adhere to a conservative standard.
  • Dress up - the best you would ever dress when actually employed there.

Here's how to dress for the best possible outcome:

  • Research the prospective employer - companies and even industries have definable corporate cultures. Find out what the corporate uniform is - and wear it.
  • Select an outfit you have worn before and are comfortable wearing.
  • Try on the outfit a few days before - enough time to have drying-cleaning and repairs completed.
  • Check the ensemble for missing buttons, frayed cuffs and other needed repairs.
  • Everything must be clean, neat and ironed.
  • No bulging pockets or sagging coat lining.
  • Hair and nails must be clean and groomed.
  • Scent should be low-key or absent.
  • The favorite color of most Americans is blue - it conveys trust, calm and confidence. Blue is a very good interview color.

The Fine Points

  • Shoes should be comfortable and polished. Shoes that are well cared-for signal "Good attention to detail."
  • Be parsimonious with scent - many people are allergic and too much perfume is an instant interview killer.
  • Jewelry - real jewelry, if you have it. No jewelry is better than fake. No rhinestones cufflinks, no cloth watchbands, no novelty tie tacks.
  • Clean and polish your briefcase or purse; organize the inside.
  • A winter coat must be cleaned and pressed, particularly since a coat may be the main item your interviewer first sees.
  • Your umbrella should be in conservative colors (black, tan, navy, gray) and in working order. Do not leave it to drip on the company carpet.
  • Bring a pen and paper; check that the pen works and doesn't leak. Store them in the inside jacket pocket, where you can easily find them.
  • Allow time to dress with care and deal with emergencies. Examine the results, front and back, in a mirror.

Men - Consider These Tips/Advice

  • Tailored suits in navy, gray, beige. (black is a funeral color, avoid it.)
  • Dark suit, light shirt.
  • Natural fabrics - wool/wool blend for the suit, cotton for the shirt, silk for the tie.
  • Business shoes and over -the-calf dark socks.
  • Matching silk tie in low-key colors.

Women - Consider These Tips/Advice

  • Simple, tailored suit
  • Tailored dress.
  • Dress & jacket combination.
  • Simple blouse.
  • Natural fabrics - wool/wool blend, cotton and silk.
  • Conservative colors - blue, gray, beige or black.
  • Avoid loud or flashy styles and colors.
  • Use makeup sparingly.
  • Low -heeled pumps, flesh colored stockings.

13 Interview Mistakes to Avoid

You've worked hard to get to the interview stage. You passed the cover letter and resume screening process...maybe even a few telephone interviews.

Now it’s time for the face to face interview with the employer itself. Any number of items can go wrong but you have to be in control and must have confidence. Go into an interview with the feeling that you are going to impress them so much that they will have to make you an offer. The interview is the most stressful part of the job hunt for many people because now they can't hide behind the cover letter and resume. The real face to face human connection between possible employer and job candidate takes place. But for starters if you simply follow these 13 tips below, you are on your way to interviews with results. A big part of a successful interview is avoiding simple mistakes. Mistakes are deadly to the job seeker and easy to avoid if you are prepared.

These are the most common interview mistakes - and their antidotes:

  • Arriving late. Get directions from the interviewer - or a map. Wear a watch and leave home early. If the worst happens and you can't make it on time, call the interviewer and arrange to reschedule.
  • Dressing wrong. You make your greatest impact on the interviewer in the first 17 seconds - an impression you want to make powerfully positive. Dress right in a conservative suit, subdued colors, little jewelry (but real gold, or silver, or pearls), low heels (polished) and everything clean and neat. Hygiene includes combed hair, brushed teeth, deodorant and low-key scent. Check everything the night before, again before walking out the door and once again in the restroom just before the interview.
  • Play zombie. OK, you're nervous. But you can still smile, right? And make eye contact, yes? Sit up, focus on the interviewer, and start responding. Enthusiasm is what the interviewer wants to see.
  • No smoking, no gum, no drinking. This is all comfort stuff for you, and none of it helps you here. Employers are more likely to hire non-smokers. At a lunch or dinner interview, others may order drinks. You best not.
  • Research failure. The interview is not the time for research. Find out the company's products and services, annual sales, structure and other key information from the Internet, the public library, professional magazines or from former employees. Show that you are interested in working for the prospective employer by demonstrating knowledge about the company.
  • Can't articulate your own strengths and weaknesses. Only you can recognize your most valuable strengths and most hurtful weaknesses. Be able to specify your major strengths. Your weaknesses, if such must come up, should only be turned around to positives.
  • Winging the interview. Practice! Get a friend, a list of interview questions and a tape recorder and conduct an interview rehearsal. Include a presentation or demonstration if that will be part of the real interview. Start with introducing yourself and go all through an interview to saying good-bye. Write out any answers you have difficulty with, and practice until your delivery is smooth (but not slick).
  • Talk, Talk, Talk. Rambling, interrupting the interviewer and answering to a simple question with a fifteen-minute reply - all of these can be avoided if you've thought through and practiced what you want to communicate. Good answers are to the point and usually shorter.
  • Failure to connect yourself to the job offered. The job description details the company's needs - you connect your experiences, your talents and your strengths to the description. It answers the essential reasons for the interview - "How my education/experience/talents/strengths fit your needs and why I can do this job for you."
  • Not asking questions - and asking too many. Use your research to develop a set of questions that will tell you whether this is the job and the company for you. This will help you limit and focus your questions. But don't overpower the interviewer with questions about details that really won't count in the long run.
  • Bad-mouth anyone. Not just your present employer, or former employer, or the competition. You don't want to look like a complainer.
  • Asking about compensation and /or benefits too soon. Wait for the interviewer to bring up theses issues - after the discussion of your qualifications and the company's needs and wants.
  • Failure to ask for the job. When the interviewer indicates the interview is over, convey your interest in the job and ask what the next step is.

Writing Thank You Letters

But many people overlook this matter of courtesy. A thank you letter can make you stand out from the other candidates competing for jobs, and in this tight job market, it is wise to consider every tool that will give you an advantage.

To be effective, a thank you note should be sent before the hiring decision has been made, so it is best to mail it as soon as possible after the interview. When you send a thank you letter, you give the interviewer a chance to remember you (imagine having interviewed 10-15 candidates for a position, and then trying to distinguish each one after the interviews and trying to remember the specifics about each person). It is your opportunity to mention any important information you forgot to discuss during the interview.

A thank you letter allows you to explain, restate, or clear up any potential misunderstandings. In addition, you can redirect your marketing campaign by focusing on something that you learned during the interview and re-emphasizing your strengths, accomplishments and skills. Sending a thank you letter shows the interviewer that you are a professional who is concerned about details. In the end, the thank you letter is your last chance to leave a good impression!

There are several situations that require a thank you letter:

  • After an employment interview.
  • When someone provides you with job search assistance such as referring you to an employer, providing a network contact, or speaking on your behalf to a prospective employer.
  • After an informational interview, company visit, or other career exploration activity.
Try to follow these hints when writing thank you letters:

  • Keep your letters short and simple - usually one page is enough.
  • Help the interviewer remember you by referring to specific points discussed in your interview: show that you were listening and mention something that will refresh the interviewer's memory of you.
  • Be sure your letters are professional, for example: typed, no errors, on quality paper, etc.
  • Send your letter within one day - do not put it off!
  • Emphasize your qualifications, especially those that are most relevant to the position.
  • Provide any information that was overlooked during the interview or that which was specifically requested by the interviewer.
  • Express your continued interest and enthusiasm for the position.
  • Remember, very few people bother to send thank you letters - this can be your edge!
Generally, your thank you letters should include the following information:

  • First paragraph:
    Thank the interviewer for taking the time to meet with you (mention the date). Remind him/her of the position for which you interviewed.
  • Second paragraph:
    Restate your interest in the position and the company/school/organization. Mention something you learned from the interview or comment on something of importance that you discussed. Again, emphasize your strengths, experiences, skills, accomplishments and slant them towards the points that the interviewer considered the most important for the position.
  • Third paragraph:
    Once again, thank the interviewer for his/her time and consideration. If appropriate, close with a suggestion for further action (if a second interview is a possibility), or mention that you will follow up with a phone call in a few days. Provide your phone number and the hours you can best be reached.


(Modified Block Format)
100 Pine Street
Albany, NY 12200

October 8, 1996

Ms. Janet Jones
Director of Research and Development
ACME Computer Company
1234 Central Avenue
Albany, NY 12204

Dear Ms. Jones:

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for interviewing me for the position of Senior Programmer in your Research and Development department. I enjoyed meeting with you and I learned a great deal about the ACME Computer Company.

This position sounds very interesting and I am confident that my education and experience have provided me with the qualifications necessary to work effectively with your team. I am especially pleased to know that you use the Quadrini programming language, since I completed two courses in it and I have used it extensively during my internship at General Electric.

Once again, thank you for the opportunity to interview for a position with your company. I am excited about the prospect of working with such a dedicated team of professionals. If you request any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sign your name
Type your name