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Practicing The Interviewing Process

Interviewing Appearances:

"You Only Have a Few Seconds to Make a Good First Impression"

Your appearance during the interview is critical . The first impression in the first three seconds remains with the interviewer throughout the interview!

Make certain your image is sharp! Dress and look the part you want. Well-made classic clothing of neutral or dark hues will give the impression you have authority.

For men : a non-synthetic or light wool suit, or a blazer and slacks if the environment you want to work in is more casual. Be certain your shirt is crisply ironed and white or light earth-tone color. Be careful in selection of a tie. Buy a coordinating tie to your suit in a width similar to the width of the lapels of the jacket. Make certain your socks compliment your suit and wear length. Always wear polished shoes.

For women : suits are preferable for a woman or a plain sweater, blouse and skirt. Make certain your clothes are tailored and not frilly with ruffles and patterns or gathers. Wear a conservative gray, black or navy suit with a very tailored silk or cotton blouse of light blue, light gray or white. To soften your outfit or add color wear a silk scarf to compliment your outfit . Select pumps or shoes which are conservatively stylish with closed-toes and a low heel. Wear a neutral color of hosiery. Be careful with jewelry. A simple necklace or bracelet, or a lapel pin is fine. Wear small earrings that don't dangle and only wedding or engagement rings.

Arriving at the Reception Room:

Be certain to arrive at least fifteen minutes early so you can use the rest room and collect your thoughts. It will also allow you to observe the activities of the area and maybe even prospective co-workers. Tell the receptionist you've arrived and be friendly. A receptionist can be an ally. Look around for company information, annual reports, trade magazines, brochures, anything you can find. If you can't find these , ask the receptionist. Find a comfortable seat and try and visualize yourself relaxing to remove the tenseness from your muscles. When you are greeted by the interviewer, stand tall, look them in the eyes, smile and give a firm handshake! Tell them it's nice to meet them and you are ready to begin.

Interviewing Body Language and Listening:

Be careful of nervous body language such as swinging your legs, biting your lips, lengthy avoidance of eye contact, wringing your hands or covering your mouth. Instead, speak with honest open hands, tilt your head to show interest, or lean forward. Listen intently and know when to lead or fill pauses with words. Keep the interviewer's needs in mind and pay attention to strong feelings, signs of boredom, frustration, confusion or loss of interest. Just remember that the interview is simply a conversation where there is a productive give and take of information.

How to Handle Those Difficult Interviewing Questions:

Below are a few examples of complex questions and some accompanying suggestions for handling them:


Why were you fired?

Be honest and admit your errors, that you've learned from your mistakes. Even if you think you weren't at fault, don't blame your employer.


Why were you laid off?

You might explain the reason for the lay-off with the company.


Describe a time when your work was criticized?

The interviewer probably wants to know about your tolerance for criticism and your ability to handle stress. Describe a situation which was minor and how you "saw the light" as time went on.


There appears to be a gap in your work history. Can you tell me what that is about?

Explain that you had family circumstances, concentrated on your education or health reasons. Keep your responses brief and focused.


What is the extent of your job search so far?

You might have been looking for a while and explain that you are looking for just the right fit.

These are just a sampling of difficult questions you may be asked. If you are asked an illegal question about age, gender orientation, family status, etc, decide if you want to answer. Consider why they might be asking the question. If you think the question is improper and you don't wish to answer, you might ask about the question's relevancy.For more examples of how to answer questions refer to the reference books in Career and Employment Services, or concentrate on a virtual interview in your area of expertise with: Monster Career Center or The Virtual Interview.

Handling a Business Luncheon:

Knowing how to handle yourself at a business luncheon is important to your professional success. Dining etiquette could make the difference in being accepted for a job. For specifics on this refer to: Dining Etiquette.

How to Negotiate Salary:

An employer may ask you what salary you desire. Instead of answering with a figure try and clarify what the responsibilities would be and how your skills fit their needs. You might indicate a range of two or three thousand dollars below and above what you expect. This does not allow the interviewer to set a "ceiling" figure too low. (To find the salary range for a position of this type refer to the "Michigan Occupational Information System" (MOIS) in our office, in computer labs at LCC and in the LCC library. The "Occupational Outlook Handbook" will also be helpful, or other salary guides in Center for Employment Services, and professional trade journals in the library).

Never Leave an Interview "Empty Handed" - Ask Questions!:

When you ask questions be sure there is a purpose. You want to know as much as possible about what is expected of you and what your role is in the company's goals. Below is a list of possible questions to ask:

  1. Can you describe some projects you have in mind for me?

  2. What would be my duties?

  3. What do you see as my greatest challenges?

  4. How long have the other employees been working in your department?

  5. What is your vision for this department?

  6. How much freedom will I have to set policy and decide courses of action?

  7. What values are imperative in the operation of your department ?

  8. How might this position change in the future?

Center for Employment Services at Lansing Community College

Career and Employment Services
Gannon Building - StarZone
Phone: (517) 483-1172
Additional contact information »

Non-Profit/Gov Job Fair

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