First impressions are lasting impressions

Sep 01 - 07, 2003 

Preparing for an interview can be nerve racking and full of tension, but by using some of the ideas below, you can rest assured that everything will flow more smoothly. Being prepared and calm are the two major keys to an impressive interview. If you follow some of the tips below you will be more collected for the interview.

The first impression that they have of you will be your attire. It is extremely important to dress very impressive. Neat and clean is the key to dress. If your clothes are wrinkled and your hair is disheveled they will wonder if that is how you will show up to the work place. Dress conservatively so as to not scare them away with wild outfits. Muted colors of brown and black are a safe choice. Stay away from new fashion statements and wild colors. Remove all body piercing and cover all visible tattoos. Attire should be somewhat dressy and appropriate to the season that you are in. Dress classy and be confident in what you wear.

Be prepared for your interview. Bring along a copy of your resume in case they misplaced it or if you want to follow along while they go through it. Bring the proper picture identification and your social security card. Make sure to be prepared for the proper position that you are applying for. If you are a teacher, bring your license. If you are a bricklayer, bring your card. Forgetting things like that can unsettle the interviewer. Bring references and any other pertinent information.

Throughout the interview smile and appear happy. Even if you are not, it is a great idea to act cheerful. If they get warm vibes from you, the better chance you have of impressing them. Answer question honestly, but not too honestly. You want to be extremely careful when they ask you questions like, "What is your biggest downfall?" or "If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?" They ask these questions to get a better feel for your maturity level and for you self-esteem. Answer somewhat vaguely with reference to things that you truly want to work on. Don't bring out long responses in detail with all the terrible things that are wrong with you.

Make sure to ask questions of your own. A good interviewer will ask a few times throughout the interview if you have any questions. Speak your mind and ask any questions that pop in your head, no matter how minute they may seem. Make sure that you really want this job also. By asking questions yourself, you can put the interviewer on the spot also. This may settle them down and help them to back off of you a bit. If they get a sense of what you are going through, they will become more understanding.

Overall, an interview is a hectic time. The before and the after is worse than during the interview. Just remember to breathe and take things slow. Answer the questions slow, so as to think them through and answer thoroughly.


Do you enjoy going for job interviews? Most, likely the experience is not something that you look forward to with eager anticipation. Most people, in fact, feel pretty scared when faced with the prospect of the dreaded interview. Just thinking about it can make some break out in a cold sweat. Yet, you need to go through the interview process in order to secure a job. So, how can you survive, even thrive at, the job interview?

The key to success is preparation. Think about what your strengths and weaknesses are. Realistically assess these qualities as if you were an objective outsider. This assessment will prevent you from becoming too cocky in your job expectations. If you are a young person entering the workforce, you should expect to start at the bottom of the ladder. By performing your duties well and proving yourself honest and reliable you will earn the right for advancement. The first thing, then, is not to apply for jobs that are beyond your current level of experience and expertise.

A golden rule to keep in mind is that first impressions are lasting impressions. Therefore, groom yourself well and dress professionally for the interview. Give an initial impression that you know how to care for yourself. If applying for an office job, dress as a business person dresses. In a factory situation, wear clean pressed slacks and shirt with neat looking shoes. Avoid blue jeans and sneakers. If you are a woman dress modestly and use cosmetics sparingly.

Always go to an interview alone. If you bring your mother or a friend, the employer may conclude that you are immature. During the interview never bluff or lie about your experience. If this is your first job, then say so. Think, however, of any experience you may be able to mention. Baby-sitting, summer jobs, training in public speaking are things that could be mentioned and included on your resume.

Prior to the interview you should have done some research on the company and the job being offered. The interviewer will no doubt ask you specific questions about these things. Answering well shows a sincere interest in the position being offered and a keenness to be involved. You must convince the interviewer that you want to do the work, that you can do it and that you want the chance to prove it.

Be business like and formal during the interview. Don't slouch in your chair. Look alert and interested. Think before answering questions. Have 3 references with complete contact details ready to hand over. Use proper English and speak slowly and clearly. Listen carefully and respectfully to what the interviewer has to say. Don't mention any personal problems to him. If it becomes clear that you will not get the job, ask the interviewer for any advice on how you can improve at your next interview and about any other openings the firm may have.After the interview you should send a brief thank you note to the interviewer.

Don't expect to get a job off your first interview. By sticking at it, though, and taking initiative you can win that job. Go to it.


1. Obtain name, title and pronunciation for all interviewers.

2. Know position for which you are interviewing.

3. Note the location/address of the interview. Find out where to check in and if any barriers exist.

4. Secure interview schedule and agenda in advance, if possible.

5. Research the organization and/or job.

6. Prepare and practice for questions you may be asked.

7. Compile questions you need to ask and write in note pad.

8. Collect and have handy information for completing an application.

9. Pack for the interview (briefcase or folder): extras resumes, references, pens, company card file, note pad, tissues, mints, application information, certificates of training and any items you were asked to bring.

10. Dress conservatively and practice good grooming. Avoid heavy make-up and scents.

Procedure of the Interview

1. Your company's application and interviewing procedures should comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA prohibits disability-related questions or medical exams before a real job offer is made.

2. Make sure your company's employment offices and your interviewing location(s) are accessible to applicants with mobility, visual, hearing or cognitive disabilities.

3. Be willing to make appropriate and reasonable accommodations to enable a job applicant with a disability to present himself or herself in the best possible light. When setting up the interview explain what the hiring process involves and ask the individual if he or she will need reasonable accommodations for any part of the interview process. For example, if a person who is blind states he or she will need help filling out forms, provide the assistance; provide an interpreter for an applicant who is deaf, if he or she requests one; provide details or specific instructions to applicants with cognitive disabilities, if this type of accommodation is required.

4. Do not let a rehabilitation counselor, social worker or other third party take an active part in or sit in on an interview unless the applicant requests it.

5. Make sure that all questions asked during the interview are job-related. Speak to the essential job functions regarding the position for which the applicant is applying, as well as why, how, where, when and by whom each task or operation is performed. Do not ask whether or not the individual needs an accommodation to perform these functions, because such information is likely to reveal whether or not the individual has a disability. This is an ADA requirement to ensure that an applicant with a disability is not excluded before a real job offer is made.


1. Relax and make the applicant feel relaxed. Don't be afraid of making mistakes. At the same time, remember that candidates (particularly those applying for professional positions) are expected to assume an equal share of the responsibility for making your interaction with them successful.

2. Do not speculate or try to imagine how you would perform a specific job if you had the applicant's disability. The person with a disability has mastered alternate techniques and skills of living and working with his or her particular disability. If the applicant has a known disability (either because it is obvious or was revealed by the applicant) the employer may ask an applicant to describe how he or she would perform a certain job function if it is an essential part of the job. In addition, the employer may ask the individual if he or she needs reasonable accommodations and if so what type of accommodation. Remember, all questions should be job-related and asked in an open-ended format.

3. oncentrate on the applicant's technical and professional knowledge, skills, abilities, experiences and interests, not on the disability. Remember, you cannot interview a disability, hire a disability or supervise a disability. You can interview a person, hire a person, supervise a person.

4. Disability related questions and medical examinations are prohibited under ADA at the pre- employment offer stage. After a real job offer is made, the offer may be conditioned on the results of disability related questions and/or medical examinations, but only if the examination or inquiry is required for all entering employees in similar jobs and only if all medical information is kept confidential. Disability related questions and medical examinations at the post-offer stage do not have to be related to the job. However, if the offer is withdrawn, the employer must show that the individual could not perform the essential function of the position or would pose a direct threat.

5. If testing is part of the interview process, make sure the test does not reveal information about physical or mental impairments (i.e., make sure it is not a medical examination.) Other tests which demonstrate the applicant's ability to perform actual or simulated job tasks are permitted under the ADA. Inform the applicant before the interview that a test will be part of the interview process. The applicant can then request an accommodation such as a different format for written tests.


PROF. DR. MUSHTAQ A. SAJID joined SZABIST Islamabad Campus as Head Faculty of Management Sciences on July 18, 2001 (Currently, A/Director). Prof. Dr. Mushtaq A. Sajid is one of the seniors most faculty members having more than 18 years of teaching and research experience. Prior to join SZABIST he was serving as Chairman, Department of Business Administration, Director Students Affairs and the Chief Editor of "Management Scenario" at University College of Administrative Sciences Kotli, Azad Jammu & Kashmir University. Dr Sajid is a graduate of the prestigious university of the Punjab from where he obtained MA Economics and MBA degrees.

In view of his excellent academic and competitive performance, he was awarded a Scholarship for higher studies by the University Grant Commission now Higher Education Commission, and he earned both master and doctoral degrees from the Center for Management Excellence Strathclyde University, Glasgow (UK) and received special awards for his excellent performance in his doctoral programme in the field of human resource management.