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Job Interviews Tips for 2020

job interview tips

Job interviews can be a stressful part of the job hunting process. But with some tips, you can easily ace your next interview and land your dream job!

Do you have a weakness for job interviews? Succeeding in job interviews is a crucial part of the job consideration process. How you do in the interview can be the deciding factor in whether you get hired or not. That’s why we put together this master guide with all the job interview tips you need.

Explore this Article:

When searching for a new job, part of the process often includes an interview. Employers conduct job interviews so they can get to know you and ask important questions. They want to gain a better impression of who you are than they can from just your resume. This will then better help them decide who to hire.

Job Interview Preparation

There are things you need to do before, during, and after an interview in order to ace it. First, we’ll go over what you need to do before you even get to the interview. These tips will help you feel confident and prepared for job interviews when they come.

Research the Business

Before you go into an interview, you should sit down and do some research on the company or business you are interviewing with. Find their website, visit their store, read reviews, and read articles about them to become more familiar with the company.

You want to research the business because then you’ll have a clearer understanding of what they do and what might be expected of you at this new job.

Download a Free Resume Template.

You can even research the company before you send in your resume. Then you can tailor your resume and cover letter to that particular business. For example, you might see on their website that community service is important to the members of this company. Then you can be sure to list your volunteer experience first on your resume.

Review the Job Description Again

Read and review the job description so that you really understand all the information the employer has already provided about the job. That way you won’t ask questions in the interview that you should already know the answer to. It will make you look bad if you don’t know something that was clearly stated in the job posting.

Pay particular attention to the skills and requirements they list in the job posting. This will give you important insights into what they want to know about you in the interview. For example, if photoshop is a required skill, then be prepared to talk about the ways you’ve successfully used photoshop to complete jobs and tasks in the past.

What to Wear to a Job Interview

Don’t pick the clothes you are going to wear on the day of the interview. This will make it take longer for you to get ready and leaves you vulnerable to wardrobe malfunctions and catastrophes. Instead, pick your clothes a few days before, try them on to see how they look, and make sure they’re clean, ironed, and neat.

A lot of people also wonder what to wear to a job interview. But picking job interview outfits doesn’t have to be complicated. It is usually better to be overdressed than underdressed. So no matter what the job might be, it’s always a good idea to dress Business Professional.

Business Professional includes things like skirts, suits, suit jackets, blazers, button-down shirts, collared shirts, and dress shoes.

It’s also important that you manage your grooming before a job interview as well. To give your best first impression you want to be clean, look clean, and smell clean. Also, be careful not to wear too much perfume or cologne. The purpose of proper grooming is to look like you know how to manage and take care of yourself.

Plan your Trip

Plan your transportation ahead of time for the day of the interview. Know how you are getting there and when you need to leave. Be 15 minutes early to make sure you aren’t late and to show how punctual you are.

You’ll also want to make transportation preparations to make sure you have enough gas in the tank or suddenly realize you didn’t ask for the address. You should also ask for a phone number to contact in case you have trouble finding your way. Some people even like to make the trip to the interview the day before just to make sure they won’t get lost on the day of the interview.

Don’t Forget to Eat!

Eat an hour or so before you go to the interview. You don’t want to suddenly have a rumbling stomach during the interview or trembling fingers because you didn’t eat yet that day.

When you’re nervous, it can be easy to lose your appetite and forget to eat. So don’t forget to put feeding yourself on your preparation list for the job interview.

Bring a Notepad and Pen

Bring your own notepad and pen so you can take notes if you need to during the interview. You can also use the notepad to keep a list of questions you want to ask so you don’t forget them.

Having a notepad with you can also help you look more professional and ready to be productive.

Job Interview Tips

There are things to do and not do, during the interview as well. A lot of these job interview tips revolve around the art of public speaking. In a job interview, you have to make conversation in front of a stranger, or even several strangers sometimes. You want to learn some public speaking skills so you can present yourself well and give a good first impression.

Avoid Fidgeting

Don’t fidget in your chair too much. When you’re nervous it can be easy to tap your foot incessantly without even noticing you’re doing it. But your interviewer notices.

Learn to talk with both feet firmly planted on the ground and your hands in your lap. Do a test run of public speaking for the interview with a friend to get someone to notice your nervous ticks for you so you can work on them.

Avoid Filler Words

Don’t use filler words. This can be a very difficult habit to get rid of, but with some practice, you can do it. Practice talking through your interview with a friend who has a counter and can count all the times you say your favorite filler words.

Do several practice runs until that number goes down or even reaches zero. Once you force yourself through practice to get rid of filler words in your speech, you’ll find it a lot easier to avoid them.

Make Eye Contact

Make eye contact with the person conducting the interview. Making eye contact shows open, friendly, and confident body language. It can also help you seem less nervous than you are if that’s something you struggle with.

But it’s also ok to look to the right or left of someone or up at a spot on the wall or ceiling as you explain an answer if this helps you focus on your answer and not feel nervous.

Keep Body Language Open and Friendly

Use open body language and avoid using closed body language without realizing it. Open body language will help you come across as confident and friendly, a perfect candidate for the open position.

Closed body language includes things like crossing your arms or legs, avoiding eye contact, or slouching your shoulders.

Open body language includes things like shaking hands, making eye contact, keeping both feet on the ground, not crossing your arms, and having good back posture.

When you practice for the job interview with a friend, also practice having good posture, looking your interviewer in the eye, and using open, confident, and friendly body language.

Don’t Criticize Others

Don’t criticize or complain during the interview. This will make you seem tacky, immature, unprofessional, or even rude. It’s particularly a bad idea to complain about your previous boss in an interview. This will not earn you points in their eyes or flatter your potential future boss.

Instead, this kind of talk will make them think you’ll talk bad about your new boss or the company behind their backs and no employer wants that for their business.

The person conducting the interview might ask you some questions about your old employment like, “what were some things you didn’t like about your previous job?” or “why did you leave your previous job?”

Answer these questions without making things too personal. They don’t want to know that you found your old boss annoying or that this one coworker talked about their cat too much. They want to know more about what you do and don’t want in a job to see if this job is a good fit for you.

Job Interview Questions

We’re going to go over the most common job interview questions and how best to answer them. The biggest thing you’ll want to prepare is your answers to interview questions. That’s why we’re including this list of job interview questions and sample answers. The best way to practice answering job interview questions is to practice answering them with someone. Even if that someone is yourself in a mirror.

Socializing with other ppl in your field is also a great way to network with important people and learn how to talk about yourself within your field.

Common Interview Questions

The best way to answer interview questions successfully is to have a story in mind for each possible question. Have job interview related stories prepared that could illustrate something useful to a potential employer.

Download a Free PDF Printable of a Job Interview Questions Practice Sheet.

Have examples of when you did hard things, handled conflict, overcame things, had success, when you failed and got back up, when you were a leader, or when you contributed as part of a team.

Tell me about yourself.

This question leaves interviewees everywhere at a loss for words. It’s hard to talk about yourself, and we don’t do it very often, but you’ll want to learn how to talk about yourself in relation to your field.

What an interviewer wants to know by asking this question are things related to the job. If you’re applying for a science job they don’t necessarily want to know how you like soccer.

When an interviewer says, “tell me about yourself” they want to hear a brief overview of your career so far.

What are your weaknesses and strengths?

When an interviewer asks about your strengths and weaknesses they are trying to determine how you perform your job. If you have a weakness within your area of expertise they want to hear about the efforts you’re taking to overcome that weakness.

If you have a particular strength within your field they want to know how you got there and what you learned from developing that strength. They want to see how you function as a person and a potential employee.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

This question might come with an arbitrary amount of years tacked onto it like, “where do you see yourself in 5 years?” but the intentions behind the question are the same. The employer wants to know what your long term goals are and whether those goals will be best served at this job. They want to know what you can gain from this job and what this job can do for your 5-year plan.

Actually sit down and make a current 5-year plan for yourself. It’s ok if your 5-year plan changes each year, it’s just good to have ambitions, an eye on the future, and responsibility for yourself and your future. This is your opportunity to show them you are a goal-oriented person and know how to make plans to reach those goals.

Why should we hire you?

What an employer wants to know here are specific ways you might contribute to this job and help make things better. You can show them how you’ll do this by giving examples of the contributions you’ve made in previous jobs.

For example, maybe you love organizing and helped optimize a filing system at your previous job. You could tell this story to illustrate how your eye for details and organization would make you an asset at this new job as well.

Why do you want to work here?

This question is closely tied to the “where do you see yourself in the future?” question. They want to know how this job fits into your life and your goals. They want to know why you are excited about this job and all you could contribute to making this position better than when you found it.

They want to hear about which parts of this job you feel the most passionate about and why it’s important to you. Maybe you want to work at this job because the position offers opportunities you’ve been looking for, or fits perfectly into your schedule, or allows you to pursue a passion you’ve always had.

At the end of the day, employers want employees who actually want the jobs they give them and who will be happy in this job position.

What questions do you have for me?

At the end of a job interview, they will often ask if you have any questions for them. This is your opportunity to 1) ask about important information that wasn’t available to you before now and 2) ask questions to help you determine whether this work environment is a good fit for you.

You can also ask some of these questions before your interview, like how much the position pays or what are the scheduled hours. Also, don’t be afraid to go in with a small list of questions so you don’t forget them during the interview.

Examples of questions to ask in a job interview:

  • Can this job be done remotely?
  • What does a normal day at this job look like?
  • What are the pay, benefits, hours like?
  • How would you describe the perfect employee?
  • What’s something you don’t like in an employee?
  • How would you describe the workplace environment here?
  • How soon can I expect to hear back about a decision?
Job Specific Interview Questions

Questions might also be based on what job you’re applying for. For instance, if you’re going to work with people a lot, or customers, they might want to know how you handle tough situations with people, or whether you prefer working with others or alone.

They might have a test at the interview depending on the job position. For example, editors might be asked to take an editing test. Make sure you know about any job-specific things to expect in your interview.

Phone Interviews

Phone interviews are often used when schedules and locations just don’t meet up. You might get a phone interview if you are applying for a job out of state or in a faraway town.

There are also some specific ways to prepare for phone interviews that you don’t have to worry about in a normal interview.

Get Rid of Distractions and Noises

Let everyone in the house with you know you’re doing an interview so they know not to disturb you. If you have roommates they can be quiet or make sure they’re out of the house during your interview. If you have kids, you could drop them off at the babysitter’s house for the interview or have a spouse play with them outside while you focus all your attention on the call.

Basically, you don’t want noises in the background of your call. This can distract both you and the interviewer, making it more difficult to perform the interview over the phone.

Dress Up Anyway

Even though you aren’t going anywhere and no one is seeing you, you can still get dressed in business attire. When you’re on the phone it can be easy to forget the professional tone you need for this conversation. But if you’re dressed for an interview then it will be easy for you to remember what you’re doing and take on the professional behavior and tone you need.

Check for Technical Difficulties

Make sure you have good service where you take the call. You want to make sure you won’t lose the call and that you’ll be able to hear them well. If your phone’s speakers aren’t great then you might want to have them fixed before the interview. You could also connect your phone to a speaker to better control volume and hear them better.

Video Interviews

Video interviews are another way employers might conduct their interviews. This might just be an easier way for them to get through their interviews. Video interviews allow you to have the full interview experience without anyone having to travel.

Dress Professionally

Dress and groom yourself the same way you would if you were going to the interview. Because it’s a video interview and not a phone interview, they’ll still be able to see you, so you’re going to want to dress in business attire.

Check for Technical Difficulties

Check your video chatting capabilities with a friend to make sure you aren’t going to run into technical difficulties. A video interview would be ruined if suddenly your camera or video capabilities aren’t working. So do a test run first. Check the video quality, the sound quality, and the connection.

Tidy Up

Choose where you’re going to sit for the video interview. Then clean up the space around your designated spot. You don’t want the background behind you to distract the interviewers. Showing yourself in a clean environment will also help you make a good first impression and show you have your life together at home.

Get Rid of Distractions, Noise, and Interruptions

During phone interviews, you need to get rid of loud noise distractions, but for a video interview, you need to get rid of noise and visual distractions. Talk to whoever else might be in the house with you at the time so they know not to walk into the video as well as make too much noise.

Follow Up Job Interview Email

After the interview is over you’ll want to send a follow-up email. The interviewer took time out of their own day to talk to you and give you an extra chance at the job. They thought you were a good enough candidate to actually meet with them before they make a final decision.

So don’t forget to send a thank you email to them for taking the time to meet you and considering you for the job. You can also offer to answer any other questions if they need to contact you again.

Job Interview Follow Up Email Template:

 

Recipients Name,

Thank them for their time and consideration.

Remind them of why you would be good for this position and why you are interested in this job.

Mention how you look forward to hearing from them and let them know how to contact you if they have any further questions.

Sincerely,

Your Name

 

And now you wait. It might be appropriate to send another follow-up email if you don’t hear back from them after a week. There’s also a chance you’ll receive a follow up job interview and need to go through a second interview process. A follow up job interview happens when an employer has reduced a larger pool of candidates and getting a follow up job interview means that you made the final cut! Now you just have to ace your follow up interview and await their final decision.

You might also need some financial help to get you between jobs. That’s where the Check City Personal Loan comes in.

Useful Job Resources

You can also check out this helpful resource for job interviews at RobertHalf.com.

You can start finding jobs by using sites like, Indeed or ZipRecruiter.

If you’re looking for job interviews you might also need to know How to Make a Resume. If you need a resume you might also need to know How to Write a Cover Letter to go with your resume.

Depending on the type of job you’re applying for, you might also need to know How to Make a Portfolio, whether it’s a hard copy portfolio, or a website portfolio.


How to Write a Cover Letter

write cover letter

A cover letter sent in along with your resume, is a key tool for eager job seekers who want to stand out amidst their competitors.

Having a cover letter in your job application can be just what an employer needs to really get to know you and see what you have to offer. When you effectively include the key sections listed below, you can create an effective cover letter that ensures the employer has everything they need to see how qualified you are:

Explore this Guide:

What is a Cover Letter?
Cover Letter Format
Elements of a Cover Letter

  1. Your Name and Contact Information
  2. The Date
  3. Professional Greeting
  4. Introduction
  5. Key Experiences
  6. Conclusion
  7. Professional Closing

Cover Letter Examples

What NOT to Do in a Cover Letter
 

What is a Cover Letter?

A cover letter is like the front page of your resume, but in letter form. You write it just like a regular letter, but include certain things related to your resume and the particular job you are applying for.

Cover letters are often used because your resume is only a page long so you might not have room on your resume to explain a lot of things. A cover letter summarizes the most important aspects of your resume, or the most important qualifications you’d like to highlight.

A cover letter also gives you the opportunity to introduce yourself a little more, and explain important aspects of your resume and why you want this job.

Cover Letter Format

Though not every job ad requests it, it is always a good idea to include a cover letter when you send an employer your resume. Like your resume, a cover letter is a single page and consists of 3 to 5 paragraphs.

When writing a cover letter it is also wise to research the company because just going off the job ad isn’t enough. Look up the company and try and learn a bit about them. This can help you make the letter specific since employers prefer it when an applicant seems to specifically want this job, not just any job.

Make a master cover letter where you store all the brief paragraphs you write to outline certain skills, so that when you go to write a letter for a specific job, you can pull from there. Sometimes certain experiences will relate to more than one job application, so these paragraphs can be reused.

Still, always read through your cover letter before sending it to make sure there aren’t any references that don’t apply to that specific job application. Each letter should be written for that job in mind, and shouldn’t sound like a reused template.

Elements of a Cover Letter

Just like a resume, a cover letter has key sections that are always included.

Your Name and Contact Information

Put your first and last name at the top of the cover letter, on center stage, in a similar way to how you put your name at the top of your resume. This way, if the two papers should get separated they’ll still be distinguishable as a unit because of this similarity. It will also leave the readers with no confusion about who they are reading about.

Then you’ll want to place your contact information below your name, just like how you did on your resume. You can think of your name and contact information as the header of your job application documents, present on each page for optimal clarity.

Contact information to include:

  • Email
  • Phone number
  • Your website or online portfolio
  • Your LinkedIn account

 
name and contact info
 

The Date

Include the date you submitted or sent the letter right below your name and contact information—right before the rest of your letter.

 
date cover letter
 

Professional Greeting

There are several ways you can address your letter. If you are able to find out the name of who would be receiving your letter or who the hiring manager would be, then you can address them by name.

But more often than not, we aren’t able to know such specific information in the application process. When this happens, you can simply address your letter by the name of the corporation with whom you are applying.

You can also use a general term like, “to whom it may concern,” but this might be seen as too impersonal or like you didn’t research the company enough.

 
professional greeting
 

Introduction

First, introduce yourself. Write a brief paragraph about yourself, introducing some key information they’ll want to know—like who you are and what you’ve been doing with your career so far.

For instance, you can tell them if you’re a student, if you’re looking for a career change, or if you’re looking for a new job in a new area after moving.

Second, tell them how you came across the job opening. Maybe you found it on indeed, or knew someone who referred you to the job opening.

Third, tell them why you want this job. Briefly explain why you are interested in this particular job and what caused you to apply for it.

This section should only be a small paragraph—just a couple sentences to briefly outline the three items mentioned above.

 
cover letter intro
 

Key Experiences

In the main body of your letter you’re going to talk about two or three key experiences that prove your skills. This may be the most important section of your cover letter. If a cover letter is the written form of your resume, then this would be the experience and skills section combined into one.

Here is where you’re going to outline choice experiences that illustrate important skills and abilities. Give real life examples that prove your qualifications. Be careful about which experiences you decide to write about, and make sure they are relevant to what the employer would be looking for.

Below is a sample template of how you could format these paragraphs:

 
key experiences
 

Conclusion

The closing paragraph should be as brief as your introduction, if not shorter. It is where you place your call to action. But since this is a job application you have to be careful how you frame this call to action. If you’re too pushy or seem arrogant, you could give a negative impression to the employer before they even meet you.

Simply let them know that you would be happy and willing to come in for an interview, or be contacted for any additional information they may need.

Framing your call to action this way invites them to act on your cover letter, without making demands or assumptions about your acceptance.

 

 

Professional Closing

Now it’s time to wrap up your letter with a professional closing. Here are some examples of professional letter closing phrases you can use in a cover letter for a resume:

  • Sincerely,
  • Regards,
  • Best,
  • Thank you for your consideration,

 
professional closing
 

Cover Letter Examples

Unlike a resume, there aren’t any websites that will let you simply plug in information while their template arranges your cover letter for you. You have to write it yourself. But here’s an example of a basic cover letter template you can use to help you write:

 
cover letter template
 

People also often wonder how to write a cover letter if they’re still in high school, or if they’re applying for an internship instead of a job. Either way the main principles of your cover letter will be the same. The only main difference will be in the key experiences section.

Cover Letters for High School

If you are a high school student, or lack work experience, get creative and use other experiences you have. Maybe you don’t have stories from a past job, but you were in the marching band where you learned about hard work and dedication. You can talk about these kinds of experiences instead.

Cover Letters for an Internship

If you are applying for an internship instead of a job, make sure you understand what the internship is all about, and the kind of tasks they’ll want you to do. Showing you understand what the internship entails will help them take you more seriously as a candidate.

Then you can talk about the things you are learning in your college classes that make you a good candidate for the program.

You should also talk about how you plan to use this internship to further your professional career, so that they can see all you plan to gain from this program.

What NOT to Do in a Cover Letter

Here’s a list of some things you should never do in a cover letter:

  • Don’t send the same exact cover letter in every job application. This can make you look detached and sloppy if there’s ever something on it that relates to a different job you previously applied for.
  • Don’t use a casual voice, or any slang.
  • Proofread! Make sure you thoroughly edit your cover letter before sending it so there are no spelling mistakes, run on sentences, or any other mistakes or oversights.
  • Don’t be pushy. You want to sell yourself in your cover letter, but if you do so in a demanding way you could make a bad impression.

If you’re worried about how you come across in your cover letter, it’s always a good idea to have some other people read it too. They can give their impression of you through the letter and make sure you’re portraying yourself in the correct light and clearly getting your points across.

Having a second or third set of eyes look over your cover letter is also a great way to make sure you don’t miss any spelling or grammar mistakes.

Meanwhile, if you’re still in between jobs, you can always take out a Check City Personal Loan to tide you over while you write your killer resume and cover letter to land that great new job!

READ MORE
Don’t forget to check out Check City’s other article on how to write your resume, “How to Make a Resume.”

Take a look at GlassDoor’s article about cover letters, “How to Write A Cover Letter.”

Learn some other cover letter tactics, “How to Write a Cover Letter.”

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