Tips for Impressing a Potential Employer During an Interview

by Miranda Marquit

Even though “official” employment figures point to a job market that is gradually improving in some ways, it’s still tough out there. If you are asked to come in for an interview, it’s a big deal — and you need to be ready to impress. After all, you only have one shot at a first impression. Prepare ahead of time to impress your potential employer. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Dress for Success

Good First Impression at Interview

You've got one shot at a good first impression

The way you dress says a lot about you. Dress professionally and appropriately for the job. Try to find out ahead of time, through observation or by asking someone in the company, the general attire worn at the company. You don’t have to spend a fortune on your wardrobe. Focus on clean, professional attire, go light on your make up and jewelry, and be sure to polish your shoes. If you have taken the time to get to know the company, though, chances are that you have a pretty good idea of what professional dress looks like.

Greeting the Interviewer(s)

Not only is the way you dress important, but the way you greet the person(s) interviewing is also vital. You want to show a certain level of confidence. Enter the room with good posture, and shake the interviewers hand firmly, introducing yourself. Make eye contact, and be sure to smile. That first impression of your confidence, when combined with your appearance, can make a big difference later.

It helps, too, to be ready with your “elevator pitch.” You  may not be asked for one, but if the interviewer leads with, “Tell me why I should hire you,” you can get ahead if you are ready with a succinct statement.

Know the Position, Company and Industry

Review the job description before you go to the interview. You want to make sure that you appear tailored for the job. You tailor your resume, and you should tailor your knowledge of the position. Consider different anecdotes that illustrate your fitness for the position. Also, focus those traits that demonstrate your ability to perform well in the position.

Take some time to understand the company, and its position in its industry. Brush up on the issues facing the company, as well as the company’s recent successes and good news. Learn about some of the challenges facing the industry, and consider what you think are solutions to the problems. Be prepared to converse knowledgeably about the company. In some cases, this might even mean rehearsing intelligent questions to ask the interviewer about your potential responsibilities.


Part of being a good interviewee is listening. You want to make sure you understand the questions being asked. You also need to be able to participate in give and take, so that requires active listening. Additionally, it helps to remember that many people consider a “good” conversation one that they spent a good amount of time talking during. Try not to interrupt your interviewer, and let him or her share stories. He or she will be more likely to have a favorable impression.

Afterward, Send a Thank You Note

Send a thank you note when the interview is over. If you know the company plans to make a hiring decision relatively soon, the quicker you send the note, the better. You want to reinforce your interest in the job, and remind the interviewer of who you are. However, if you are aware that the interview process will take a while longer, consider waiting a few days (but not more than a week) to send your note. That way, you will refresh the interviewers mind at a time when you might have been fading. Timing is a fine line, so if you are in doubt, send the note promptly.

With some planning and preparation, you can make a good impression and increase the chances of getting the job.

photo credit: Henkster.

Published or updated February 24, 2012.
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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Money Infant

Those are great interviewing techniques. I think the combination of confidence and knowledge about the company and industry will give you an edge over many of the other applicants. Cemented with a quick and gracious thank you note, you shouldn’t have to be on the job market long. How do you feel about sending a follow-up email a week or two later to inquire about the status of the open position and your chances?


2 Nick

I especially like the note tip. I once sent a handwritten note to the coordinator of a trade show that booked me to speak. It’s a really, really competitive speaking gig. She called me to thank me for the nice note and said it’s been years since she got a handwritten note. Next thing I know, I have an open invitation and I’m turning down spots from them because it’s just too much. Nuts.


3 Krantcents

Good tips! Making a connection during the interview is the key goal for a candidate. Hiring managers usually hire people they like. Making a connection means separating you from the other candidates and hopefully the hiring manager likes you.


4 Ann

I wish I could send this out to my candidates before they are interviewed… especially the part about listening. When people are nervous they tend to go on and on, and often end up saying things that don’t work in their favor. I can’t count the number of times a candidate gave me a good answer off the bat, then proceeded to sink themselves with a bunch of useless gibberish, often contradicting their first answer. Another irritant I would add is candidates ‘fudging’ answers when they don’t know. I can always tell when you don’t know, and would much rather prefer a mature and honest response to one that is made up.
Have confidence in yourself and stay grounded during an interview. Remember that the person on the other side of the table wants you to be the right candidate for the job…


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