5 Tips: What to Do at the #Interview

When you make it to the interview, you want to be on point. Prepare answers ahead of time that show situations, actions you took, and results to respond to many behavioral questions. Research the company: the company culture, mission, news, and services, can help you relate your skills in a way that shows benefit to the hiring manager. The interview will go even smoother if you follow this advice:

1. Silence your cell phone


Most people will say to shut off your cell phone or leave it in the car. However, if you use it to schedule appointments, you may want it handy if asked for a follow up appointment or date for a second interview. If your phone does go off, it’s not an immediate “fail.” It all depends on how you recover. Don’t look at who is calling; just shut it down and apologize immediately to continue.

2. Smile


Sure, interviews make everyone nervous. It may be a combination of nerves and adrenaline, but researching and practice will help build your confidence before the interview. If you’re too worried about how you sound or are constantly wondering if you relayed everything you wanted to say, your face may not read that you’re someone who is excited about the opportunity. Take a moment, breathe, and smile right when you shake hands. If this is a phone interview, smile as you talk as well. Your voice transforms when you’re smiling and makes you sound more enthusiastic and engaged. Plus, everyone likes being around a friendly person. Would you want to work everyday alongside someone who constantly keeps a serious face on?

3. Don’t talk money or benefits


Unless specifically asked by the interviewer, do not be the first to bring up pay or benefits. Save these questions for the job offer. The interview is a business meeting where you and the employer are trying to see if you will be a quality match for the position. Show that you can do the job and you want to work for the company. It can be a major turn off if a candidate doesn’t use this time well, but rather just asks how much they would make. If the interviewer does bring this information up first, research average salaries from Department of Labor’s Labor Market Information website. Always provide a range for salary to avoid being too expensive or underselling yourself. For more information on Salary Negotiations, see George’s post.

4. Speak clearly and avoid the “Yeahs, Ummms, and Likes”


If you need to briefly pause and think about your answer before responding, take the time to do it. The interviewer may need you to be a representative of the company, and depending on how you present yourself, speech included, your casual way of speaking may be off-putting. “Umms” and “Like” are fillers that can be reduced by practicing your answers beforehand. I am guilty of the “Yeah” abuse, but in an interview, the answer is always “Yes”.

5. Dress Appropriately


You can never go wrong with a button-down/blouse and dress pants/conservative skirt. This rule can be modified from company to company. Some company cultures prefer very professional attire. If that’s the case, then suit jackets and ties should be worn. Everyone can benefit from having at least one great suit in their closet. If the office is more casual, perhaps replace the dress pants for some khakis. Research the company and try to match what the manager would be wearing. Ask ahead of time if you think you may be touring any facilities that may require boots, a hardhat, or similar special circumstances. In general, I don’t know of a time where shorts, flipflops, sweatpants, anything low-cut, or anything revealing could be considered acceptable interview attire. Try on your outfit ahead of time to ensure proper fit, and remember: you want to be noticed for what you said, not what you wore. For more on this topic, check out Uriela’s blog post about appropriate interview attire.

If you have questions or concerns about these suggestions or anything related to your upcoming interview, please drop us a line in the comments below!

[All gifs thanks to giphy!]


An offer you can’t refuse: Negotiating your salary


By George Bernocco, CPRW

You got the interview, nailed it and now you’re awaiting a decision from the company. Most likely the call you’re waiting for is from Human Resources offering you the position. The job you applied for may have listed the salary in the posting itself, or it was discussed by the company to you in the interview, or you have no clue what they are going to put on the table. Regardless, you want to show the employer that you are worth more but don’t want to frighten them away. Here are some ideas to help you with this difficult process:


It is considered bad practice for you to bring up salary. The employer can bring it up and discuss it with you during the actual interview, but they must have initiated the conversation. This may catch you off guard, because if you have not done your research, you may not have an answer for them so soon. Be prepared that the employer might bring up salary, and have an answer if they do.


Do you know the average salary in the United States for your career field? How about the median salary in your state? Or even district? Labor departments, federal and state, keep records of this information. Here are a few websites that can help you:

When you have numbers to work with, you can do the math and produce a salary number that isn’t too high or too low. Just remember that average salaries factor in outliers, people who were paid abnormally high and low. Median salaries are what most people in your career field are being paid.

Another way to research how much a company pays its employees is by knowing someone who works for them. Asking an employee can prevent you and the employer from wasting each other’s time if the job isn’t financially beneficial to you. You can also get an idea of the atmosphere of the company, and see if it’s a place you would like to work.


When you’re discussing your salary with the potential employer, you should remember the job posting. I would go as far as to say that you create a points system on the posting. Break down the posting by its requirements and preferred knowledge. Add +1 for everything in the posting you have exceeded. Put a 0 next to anything you have met the requirements or preferred knowledge. And then if it comes to it, -1 next to anything which you have not met. Just note this is for your general knowledge as to how much you should be asking for, this is not something you’d want to share in detail with the employer. You would want to highlight anything you’ve added a +1 next to. You should not necessarily discuss with the employer any -1 items as they serve as a reminder to not ask for too much since you haven’t met or exceeded all the requirements. Chances are the employer knows what your “-1’s” are and they used them to adjust your salary.

Prioritize your list with the most important towards the top. Here is an example:

Job Posting                               I Have                                    Points

5 years experience                           10 years experience                                +1

Bachelors in Science                        Masters in Science                                  +1

Basic computer skills                      Basic computer skills                               0

Expertise with MS Excel                  Basic knowledge of MS Excel                  -1

Ask the person who you are negotiating with what the salary is based on. Whatever they mention, you should be prepared to have an answer. If your education (and/or experience) exceeds the minimum requirements, and the employer states that is what the salary is based on, be prepared to remind them how you exceeded the minimum.


When you are armed with knowledge, you can successfully negotiate your salary without disqualifying yourself. Employers do expect new employees to negotiate, and it’s important to feel comfortable in the process. Be realistic as you should only apply for jobs that you know can earn you a profit. There may be times where the employer and you do not reach an agreement. If you cannot reach a mutual agreement with the employer, it may be for the best as you do have financial responsibilities.

Not too little, not too much: Attaching documents to your application

By George Bernocco, CPRW


The job posting was designed to identify those who can read through and understand the job. The first part requires an ability to pay attention to detail. Words they use, required versus preferred, job description details and much more. I advise most people to go line by line, identify words the posting uses more than once.

The second part of the job posting is designed to test your ability to follow instructions. Usually the ad gives directions to those interested in applying for the position. These instructions are so important to the job application process because you must assume it is a test. If you fail to follow the instructions, your resume along with anything else you sent them will be put in a “Do Not Interview” pile. Here is how to secure yourself in the “Interview” pile:

 Always Send a Cover Letter

If the application just asks for your resume, it means your resume and cover letter. If the application states “Cover Letter Optional”, assume it is mandatory. With the vast amount of applications a company will receive, the easiest way for employers to weed out those not to interview is take out the ones who did not send a cover letter. Cover letters are standard and expected, even if the job application makes no reference to them. They are your first means of dialogue with the potential employer.

 Send Salary Requirements Only When Asked

Not all job postings require you to submit your salary requirements. If you submit them without asking, it can easily disqualify you because it is too high or even too low for the employer. When they ask, you should incorporate the salary requirements into a fourth paragraph of your cover letter. Be aware that some employers may feel the answer “Negotiable” is not a real answer to their question. If you are really unsure what to write, do your research into your field and go by the median salary in your career.

 Watch Out for Scams

Identity thieves can easily make a posting look real and request personal information. You should always be cautious about who you are sending your information to. Call the places to confirm they are an actual employer. Always be wary if they ask for your social security card and/or birth certificate in the first stages of the application process.

 Attach Anything an Online Application Asks For

Online applications within a website usually allow you to upload all different types of documents. They could be transcripts, reference letters, reference names, or certifications. The website might list some of these as optional, but your best bet is to complete the application as much as possible. The closer you are to 100% completed, the more likely they will contact you for an interview. You should try to prepare these materials ahead of time as online applications can have a time limit to complete. Do not send every document you have if the job posting does not mention them and the job application has no place to upload them. Assume you can submit this later on when they ask for it. Employers are overwhelmed with the amount of applications as it is which is why they only request certain documents at certain stages of the application process.