So, you are getting ready for a job interview.

Whether you are scheduled for a phone interview or an in-person interview, it’s vital to take the necessary steps to prepare for your interview.

Below are the most important tips regarding preparing yourself for what could be the first step on the path to your career change:

Perfecting Your Resume

By this point, your resume has already done the heavy lifting of landing you the interview, but it’s always a good idea to check it once more for typos, errors, omissions, etc.

To learn how to write a resume, read my post Here.

Quickly scanning your resume will also remind you of what’s on it.

Remember: anything on the resume is fair game to be brought up during the interview, so make sure there’s nothing misleading on there.

You don’t want to get accused of falsifying information. Check to make sure everything is spelled correctly using autocorrect or using a tool like Grammarly.

Double-check the dates of employment, education, etc.

After that, print out 3-4 copies to bring to the interview (if it’s in-person).

For a phone/zoom interview, print out a copy to have in front of you during the interview.

Don’t rely on an electronic version of the resume (in case the battery dies, you get a call/email on the device, etc).

A paper version is the best way to eliminate all distractions.

Be sure to highlight any areas you want to make sure get brought up, and rehearse in front of the mirror a few times.

Preparatory Questions

An interview is a 2-way conversation.

The prospective employer shouldn’t be the only one asking questions.

Nothing screams “disinterested” more than “No, I don’t have any questions for you”.

Write or print these questions out on a sheet of paper and bring with you to the interview (or have in front of you for a Zoom/Phone interview)

Some important questions might be:

  • Why is this position open?
  • Company growth plans?
  • What type of growth and advancement opportunities does this position and the company offer?
  • How do you see me benefiting the company?
  • What would my first project be if I’m hired?
  • Are continuing education and professional training stressed?
  • Why did you (the hiring executive) choose this company?
  • What exactly are the job responsibilities?”

Or any other questions you can think of. Consider this: if this career change will change the next 4+ years of your life, what would you like to know before taking that leap?

Dressing for the interview

As the adage goes, dress for the job you want.

Presenting a sharp image is essential.

If you are unsure what exactly to wear for the interview, look around at your current office and see what people with that role are wearing every day (Controller, Estimator, Secretary, etc) and google “how should (this role) dress for an interview?”

Even for a phone interview, dressing formally can give you the mental assuredness and professionalism to help you ask and answer the pertinent questions with a calm yet confident attitude.

Here is a checklist to make sure you make a solid first impression:

  • Fingernails should be short and clean; manicured if possible.
  • Hair should be clean, well-groomed and freshly trimmed. Use a dandruff shampoo, if necessary, and always comb hair with your jacket off.
  • For men, a navy blue or dark gray suit is appropriate for most positions. Be sure it is cleaned and pressed.
  • For women, wear a suit or tailored dress in basic navy or gray. Blouses should also be tailored and color coordinated.
  • Shirts should be white, freshly laundered and well pressed.
  • A quiet tie with a subtle design and a hint of red is suitable for a first interview. Avoid loud colors and busy designs.
  • Jewelry should be kept minimal. A watch and wedding or class ring are acceptable. Do not wear jewelry or pins that indicate membership in religious or service organizations.
  • Use deodorant and avoid colognes or fragrances completely.
  • Shoes that are black and freshly polished (including the heels) are a safe choice for an interview. Socks should be black or navy blue.

Quick note: when standing while wearing a blazer or suit jacket with 3 buttons, the middle button is always fastened, top button is optional, bottom button is never fastened.

For a 2-button blazer/jacket, the top button is always fastened and the bottom button is left undone. 

For a single-button, always fastened.

Always unfasten the button when sitting down, and fasten again when you stand up. 

The interview

Make sure you arrive 15 minutes early to the location.

It’s also a good idea to drive by the place if you’re unfamiliar with the area.

Be sure to ask where you should park at least 1 day before the interview if you plan on driving yourself.

For a phone/zoom interview, be sure to be ready 15 minutes early all the same.

Zoom interview tip: don’t look at yourself on the screen, look at the camera.

To help you remember, take a little sticky note, draw a smiley face, and put that right next to your camera.

Leave your sunglasses and headgear in the car (unless it’s cold/raining, then professional headgear is appropriate).

Note: a ballcap is never professional attire. I worked with a candidate who missed out on a lucrative position because he wore a ballcap to the interview.

Don’t chew gum or smoke in the parking lot.

Remember to silence (or turn off) your phone.

A breath mint before entering the building is advised.

Remember to bring those extra copies of the resume you printed out earlier, preferably contained in a professional notebook/binder. 

Treat everyone in the parking lot with respect, and assume they are the person who will conduct the interview (because, you never know, they just might be).

Walk with a purpose, carrying yourself in a calm and collected manner.

Upon entering the building, introduce yourself to whomever is behind the front-desk and tell them why you’re there.

Note: don’t be surprised if the person who will be interviewing you greets you at the front door and offers to walk you to the interview room.

When you enter the office or conference room where the interview is being held, greet each person with a handshake, making eye contact, and introduce yourself by first and last name, and hand each person a copy of your resume.

They likely have a copy already, but it’s a good tip to bring one for each person, just in case.

Make sure your copy of your resume and list of questions are easily accessible.

Remember: poise, confidence, and self-respect are of great importance. Make eye contact with each person when answering their individual questions.

Don’t bring up the subject of compensation during a first interview, either over the phone or in-person.

That’s a conversation better left for a later time.

IF the interviewer DOES bring up the subject of money in the first interview, the preferred response is “Well, sir or ma’am, I’m open to any fair offer, and I’m sure we can come to an agreement on what that looks like.”

If they press it, you can put the ball back in their court, asking “Well, what were you thinking of asking?”

You can always tell them what you are currently making and what you would like to make, BUT you risk:

  • Lowballing yourself, asking for a number below what they were thinking, OR
  • Asking for more than they anticipated before they even have a chance to see what you can bring to the table

At the end of the interview be sure to thank each person for their time and shake their hands again.

Don’t be afraid to mention your enthusiasm about the possibility of working for them.

You can say something like “I’m very excited about the prospect of joining your team and I look forward to next steps”.

If possible, try and get their business cards and/or email addresses. DO make sure to ask when you can expect an answer.

Note: it’s not uncommon for someone to be made an offer at the end of an interview, either verbally or even in writing; be prepared for this.

It’s not inappropriate to ask for some time to consider the offer, but if the offer is fair and reasonable AND you would be disappointed if you missed out on this opportunity, feel free to accept on the spot.

Remember, it’s never until it’s over, and taking time to think about it or negotiate might just cost you the position.

After the interview

Send a quick follow-up email to whomever conducted the interview, saying something like:

“[First name],

Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me today. I’m excited about the prospect of working with you, and I look forward to next steps”

After this, the waiting game begins.

There’s honestly not a lot you can do at this point but stand by and hope for the best.

If you are given a point of contact at the company, I’d recommend following up with them once/week, but you don’t want to come across as desperate or bothersome. 


In a nutshell, the focus of the interview, the preparation, and what you do afterwards is attempting to make the best possible first impression.

I once heard an acting coach describe the audition process NOT as showing up to apply for a job, but showing up to DO a job.

I take the same approach to job interviews.

You aren’t showing up asking for a job, but showing them what you are capable of.

Show up to the interview as if you’re showing up to work for them, because that’s what they want to see.

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