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Making the Best Impression




Quick Tips

  • On the day of the interview, you want to arrive early and be prepared to stay late.
  • It’s not enough to know the time and location of your interview. You also need to know how long it takes you to get there, where to park your car, and how long the commute time is from your car to the interview location. It helps to drive to the site prior to the interview.
  • Bring extra copies of your resume and reference page, the job description, prepared questions, samples of your work (if applicable), pen and paper, and portfolio.
  • It’s also helpful to have the names of the interviewers, their job titles, and their roles within the organization if you can get them before the interview.
  • To make the absolute best impression, you also want to know yourselfknow the employercommunicate well, and dress in professional attire.

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Do Your Homework

Know Yourself

You need to know as much as possible about your education, experience, skills, and personal qualities to communicate a positive self-image. Allow the employer to conclude you are the best person for the job, and be able to determine if the position is one where you can be productive and successful.  Read through our tips on marketing yourself for more information.

Know the Employer

Employers view candidates as being unprepared when they know little about the organization. The more information you have about a prospective employer, the better able you will be to ask meaningful questions of the employer. This will impress employers by showing them you are a conscientious, hard-working candidate who is interested in their organization.

Once you begin researching, you will realize there is so much out there! Key information you should know:

  • Company name and location
  • Mission statement, values, and goals
  • Current trends in the company and in the field
  • Unique qualities about their company

To really impress the company or organization, you could be knowledgeable of:

  • Reputation within the industry
  • Challenges the company currently faces
  • Look for a “press room” or company news page with recent news releases
  • Awards or recognition received in the past year
  • Leadership or management structure
  • Benefits
  • Diversity in the workplace

Here are a few places to start your research:

  • Company website
  • Recruit-A-Duke company profiles
  • People in your network who have a connection with the organization

For more in-depth research to set you apart, here are additional resources:

  • Competitor’s websites
  • Career Bliss or Glass Door for reviews from professionals who have worked for the organization
  • Articles in professional journals, magazines, or other publications
  • Google News search for the organization’s name

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Communication Tips

Verbal
  • Time is limited, so be clear, concise, and complete. However, don’t make the interviewer drag information out of you. If you’re not sure if you’ve addressed a question fully, you can always ask if your response answered their question.
  • Use active verbs to describe your qualifications.
  • Talk about your role specifically; if a group accomplished something make sure that you define how you personally contributed.
  • For strong and effective responses, use the STAR approach to answer questions.  Read more about this approach and how to use it to speak to past experiences in our Interview Questions section.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic.
  • Ask questions to show that you've done your homework, have interest in the position and organization, and demonstrate initiative and analytical abilities.
Non-Verbal
  • Your body language says a lot about you and your interest in the position. Use it to your advantage to convey self-confidence, sincerity, enthusiasm, and capability.
  • Dress appropriately for the type of job or organization. When in doubt, dress conservatively. See more tips on Interview Attire below.
  • Offer a firm handshake. Extending a handshake to introduce yourself can show that you take initiative.
  • Eye contact should be open and direct, especially when listening or speaking.
  • Posture should be relaxed but upright (not too stiff), facing straight on. Know your nervous habits and practice controlling them (i.e. jiggling foot, fidgeting with a pen).
  • Hands can be used in a relaxed way to communicate animation and excitement about ideas.
  • Use facial expressions to convey interest and sincerity (i.e. smile, nod).
  • Voice tone should be moderate and well modulated. Avoid speaking too softly or in a monotone.
  • Be an active listener. Show responsiveness and communicate interest to the interviewer.
  • Convey enthusiasm; let them see that you are interested in the position through your responses.
  • Be confident. Believe in yourself (or at the very least make the interviewer think you do). Remember that the main subject of the interview will be you, and if you've done your homework, that's one subject you know best.

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Communication Through Phone

Communication, in all forms, should have a professional tone. Attitude is a critical component of communication. Always represent yourself in a positive light. This means having a positive attitude about challenges that may come along with a job. For instance, you will want to show recruiters that you have an optimistic outlook on finding solutions for problems, both personally and professionally.

When you begin to provide your phone number to recruiters, including having it listed on your resume, you want to make sure you have the following:

  • Standard ringback tone (e.g. no songs)
  • Brief, clear, and professional voicemail greeting that states your name

If you include your cell phone number, it’s best to only answer the phone from an unfamiliar number when you are in a quiet, appropriate environment to receive a business call.

When leaving a recruiter a voicemail, keep your message short and within the context of the job.  Be sure to include your name and phone number as well as when you can be reached. Always speak clearly and be in a location that minimizes that background noise so that your message can easily be understood. It is professional to repeat your name and number in case the recruiter cannot hear your statement the first time around.

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Interview Attire

Your appearance makes a statement about you, and during an interview, you want to portray a professional image. Dressing appropriately is key. Read through some of our dress tips to follow as you choose your attire.

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