Getting a Job in Communication – Part 4 of 4

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IV. The interview.

a. Dress appropriately.
That does not necessarily mean a business suit. You will need to get a feel for what’s expected where you will be working. A good rule of thumb is to dress for an interview the way the boss dresses.

b. Get there early.
The most avoidable mistake you can make is showing up late for your interview. As mentioned in the previous section, my preference was to set up a nearby “staging area” within a block of the interview site (closer in the event of inclement weather) where I could grab a cup of coffee, relax and review one last time before the interview. Get there early, but not too early… no more than 5 minutes or so. More than that and it could become awkward as people rush to accommodate you.

c. Be aware of non-verbal communication.
Don’t wear too much cologne or perfume (if they can smell you without putting their nose next to you, it’s too much). Use a breath mint before you get there. If you had a piece of gum, it needs to be gone before you get to the interview site. Be sure to have a firm handshake. Look the interviewer in the eye. Don’t slouch. Don’t cross your arms. Lean forward to appear interested. Actually be interested. Smile. Imagine that someone is looking at you every moment you are at the interview site and act accordingly. For more, see

d. Verbal communication skills are important too.
Don’t talk too much. Listen to the interviewer. Don’t interrupt. Think for a moment after each question. Ask yourself why the interviewer is asking the question. “Tell me about yourself” is not an invitation to describe your hobbies, your childhood or Uncle Harry’s gout. It’s an invitation to discuss the “professional you.” The “personal you” is introduced only if it reflects the professional. More hints and tips can be found at

e. Be professional.
Stay calm. Realize that you wouldn’t be here if the people interviewing you didn’t already think you were one of the top candidates for the job. Be positive. Unless your former employers were arrested for mistreating you, there’s no need to badmouth them or anyone else. Don’t show off. Be yourself, but be your “professional” self. Be someone that your interviewer wants to work with and whom they would be proud to have hired.

f. Follow up.
1. Ask for some information.
There’s nothing wrong with asking what the hiring schedule looks like. When do they plan to wrap up interviews and make an offer? Be prepared to answer if they ask why you want to know. Be patient.

2b. Thank everyone.
Thank every person who interviewed you. Send them real, handwritten thank you notes. Don’t forget anyone whom you might have mentioned as a mutual acquaintance in your cover letter (with the exception of references, whom you should thank when you accept a position). Also, drop at least a thank you e-mail to anyone, such as secretaries or potential colleagues, who extended any extra help to you while at the interview site. Do this even if you don’t think you would accept an offer from the company. As always, spelling and grammar count.

Want more? Check out Career Services at for info on resume writing, cover letters, interview prep and job searches.

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