Actively listening to the interviewer, remembering names and dressing appropriately are a few ways to make sure a job interview goes smoothly.

Erin Abzug
Stepping into the office of a potential employer can be a nerve-racking experience, but mastering a few new skills can be the key to landing a new job.

Sociology junior Katie Maloney said her biggest concern about the interview process is “the business won’t think (she’s) genuine or truthful with (her) answers.” Certain skills and characteristics can help create a genuine and interested potential employee. Putting them into effect creates a much warmer and successful interviewing environment.

Active listening

Being present and completely focused on the communication going on between you and the interviewer is key, business communication specialist and communication studies professor Michael Fahs said. Having the ability to accurately paraphrase what was heard is the main aspect of active listening, Fahs said. Summarizing what the interviewer has expressed not only portrays active listening, but it allows the interviewer to see the interviewee’s interest in the conversation and job opportunity at hand.

Excellent questioning skills

Ask for clarification. Questioning shows interest in the job and the company, and shows interviewees are trying to understand and prepare for the demands and requirements of the position.

The willingness and ability to say, “I don’t know”

It is important for interviewees to admit that they may not know rather than making something up or guessing, Fahs said.

People may be apprehensive of this vulnerability, but employers look for employees who have a drive to learn, develop and grow. Guessing on how to perform a task can have much bigger consequences than admitting to not fully understand something. With answers and guidance, performing job tasks becomes attainable.


“Communication skills and knowledge are absolutely essential,” Fahs said. “You can be the best engineer, but if you can’t clearly state what you do, you’ll never shine.”

Ideas and thoughts need to be expressed in order to be put into action.

Interviewees may have the best idea a company has ever had, but if they cannot explain it, it will go to waste, which is a complete shame, Fahs said.

Program coordinator and career counselor Carole Moore agreed with Fahs and stressed the importance of communication skills as well. Moore specified communication skills as how to answer questions and articulate — be concise, do not ramble — and body language. Leaning in and sitting upright shows respect, interest and a desire to continue the conversation.

Appearance and first impressions

Interviewers place a big emphasis on appearance, and rightly so, for the potential representative of their company.

The quality of eye contact, the warmth of a smile, posture, dressing appropriately and a professional handshake are all components of a first impression, Fahs said.

Moore also specified being a likable person is essential in the interviewing process.

“At the end of the day, we are all people, and we all make decisions based on how other people make us feel about ourselves,” Moore said.

Based on this fact, an interviewer needs to feel as though he or she will be able to spend a lot of time with the interviewee and develop a relationship.

Make it important

The best piece of advice Moore offers for trying to obtain a job is to make every opportunity — a résumé, phone call or interview — precious and important.

“Take all of it seriously, value the people, remember peoples’ names, follow up with a thank you card and make everything meaningful — do not just go through the motions,” Moore said.

The worst thing one can do in an interview is be disrespectful, Moore said. A future employee should never show disrespect for a person or an opportunity.

Be prepared

Being prepared is the best piece of advice, Fahs said.

A potential employee should know about the organization to which they are applying and be committed to it.

There are so many sources available to job seekers today that finding background about a company of interest is not difficult, Fahs said.

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