Guest contributor Dave Thomas shares his experiences on the various job interviews he has been to in the last 20 years or so and the lessons we all can use to ensure success at the next interview.

Even though the national unemployment rate still hovers around 9.1 percent, millions of Americans go on job interviews each and every day. The goal, find positions that will put some money back in their wallets and hopefully return them on the path to success.

While it would seem not that difficult to ace a job interview, you would (or maybe not) be surprised at just how many individuals can take a simple job interview and send it crashing to the ground.

Having gone on a dozen or more job interviews over 22 years in the journalism/marketing field, I’ve had some sessions with employers that went well, some that were so-so, and others that crashed and burned before I even left the building.


Do You Have the Skills for an Interview?

While properly handling a job interview is not rocket science, there are some skills that definitely need to be employed should one in fact actually like to be employed.

Among the things that I always advise when heading into a session is:

  • Be PunctualThe obvious sometimes turns into the biggest gaffe an interviewee can make, being on time. If your interview is slated for 10 a.m., don’t show up at 10:05. If you do, you’d better have a good reason for your tardiness, and not you overslept. Employers will get a first impression of you by your on-time abilities, don’t be late to the dance;
  • Be Dressed AppropriatelyHaving done some interviews over the years for freelance help, I thought I had seen it all, but then someone tops it. Even if you are just interviewing for an internship, don’t look the part of someone going to a ballgame instead of an interview. First impressions cannot be changed, so dress the role. For guys, a nice suit or dress shirt/dress pants, clean shaven and a decent haircut. For gals, a nice dress or pants suit. Above all else, go easy on the makeup and perfume. Remember, you are interviewing for a job, not to be the next cover girl of Maxim;
  • Be Confident – This is the first and foremost important thing that too many candidates overlook. Sure, it is expected one will be anxious when sitting down across the table from a stranger who may be a potential employer, but try not to let it show. The employer obviously had reason to call you in in the first place, so exude confidence during the interview;
  • Be You – The biggest danger someone interviewing for a job can end up undertaking is not being themselves during the interview. If the job calls for certain technical skills that you don’t have, don’t try and wing it and say you can do them. Trust me, you will be called out on it at some point and time, ending up wasting both your time and the employer’s;
  • Be Thankful – Even if it ends up you don’t get the job, be sure to send the employer a short thank you note for having you in to begin with. The bottom line is that employers get an endless supply of resumes to go through, so be appreciative of the fact that they singled you out for an interview. While you may not get the job, your appreciation for the interview will bode well for you down the line.


How Far Do I Follow My Own Advice?

So, I gave you some pointers on what I consider to be important facets of the job interview process.

Now, do I admit to following most or all of them?

On the interviews I’ve gone on:

  • I can only remember being a few minutes late once or twice, and those were due to getting lost. I made sure to phone ahead that I was running behind a few minutes and they said they understood;
  • I have always dressed appropriately or have even over-dressed for the interview. After moving from the East Coast to Southern California 16 years ago, I remember the very first full-time job interview I went on being told I must be from back east because most of the locals are not as sharply dressed;
  • I always was up front on my skill level. If there was something brought up during the interview that I felt maybe be a bit of a challenge, I would say so. Trust me, you will only embarrass yourself and the person who hired you if you get the job, then cannot meet all the requirements;
  • I have always taken the time to thank an interviewer for taking the time to have me in. Maybe my resume stood out; maybe it was something I said in my cover letter, or even something that attracted them during a pre-interview phone call. Whatever it was, much appreciation was given for having me in.


So, I can proudly say in 22 years that the number of full-time jobs I’ve held I can count on one hand. Except for a layoff and some moving around, I have been happy to be with those employers who took a chance on me.

When you go on an interview, do what works best for you and remember that you are one of the lucky ones to get a foot in the door in the first place.

Oh, probably avoid one of my vices that I’ve done on every interview I can remember, chewing gum.

No, I don’t make it overly noticeable while I’m sitting there being flooded with questions, but I use it as a relaxing technique.

Hey, whatever works for you, right?


Dave Thomas writes extensively for B2b lead generation online retarget Retarget Nation that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs. He is an expert writer on items like credit card processing companies and is based in San Diego, California.