In my former life, I was a personnel manager for a ten-store retail chain in San Diego, so I have conducted a lot of job interviews. Over those years, as you might expect, I developed some positive clues to a good employee, as well as plenty of red flags. If you are jumping into the job market, either by choice, or circumstance, here are some tips that might help you catch the boss’s eye.


This one should be a no brainer but, it never ceased to amaze me, the way some people dressed for job interviews. How you dress says a lot about you. It shows poise, confidence and self-esteem. If you have a job interview scheduled with a company, visit that company before the interview. See how the employees are dressed. Are they in jeans and T-shirts or coats and ties?

You don’t necessarily have to dress like you stopped off for the interview on your way to a funeral. I had a hard and fast rule, that employee’s dressed one step up from the customers. In most cases that was khakis or slacks and shirts with collars. For women, skirts or nice pants and blouse. Dress as well as your budget will allow. As we all know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.


A resume is a “snapshot” of you that the potential employer will use to find a fit, between your skills and experience, and the needs of the company. In addition, it’s a great way to sell you to an employer. For example, which sounds better?

“At XYZ Company I operated a Widget Machine for three years.” Or, “During the three years I was in charge of Widget Machine operation, production increased over 56% and downtime was reduced 39%.” Which of those two descriptions will carry more weight with your future employer?

Look at your education and work history. Each of us has made contributions to past employers. Were you “Employee of the Month,” did you receive any special training, win any awards, or receive any certifications that confirm your expertise? Make sure these are all included in your resume.


List any groups you belong to. Things like this are subtle hints to an employer about your people skills. Your softball team finished second in the city tournament. That would tell me that you are able to work within a team. Being a member of Kiwanis, Lions, Eagles, Rotary, etc. tells me that you are someone who is passionate and willing to sacrifice to help others. It also shows a positive work ethic. Each part of your life tells a story, and it should tell the story of you in the most positive way possible.


I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, “It’s not what you know; it’s who you know.” That is very true. Your chances of finding a job through friends will be much higher than newspapers or employment agencies. Talk to everyone you know. If you’re not sure if they know about your experience, then share your resume with them. Don’t beat em’ up to the point they run the other way when they see you coming. The more people who know you are looking; the more opportunities will come your way.


With the Internet, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs and other social media, it’s very easy to find out everything there is to know about a company, before the interview. If you don’t have computer access then your local librarian will be happy to assist you in finding the info you need. You must know what your potential new company does, how they do it, why they do it and whom they do it for. If you don’t know these basic things, how can you showcase your skills, which will help the company achieve its goals?

Visit Their Web Site

Many companies post news releases, new product or service announcements on their site. Can you match your skills with this company? If you can, then be able to articulate what your value will be, and why you are the one to successfully fill the position.

Questions To Ask The Interviewer

Sometime in the interview process, you’ll be asked if you have any questions of the interviewer. Here are some tips for handling that.

  1. “How will my success be measured?” This question tells the interviewer that you are a “goal oriented person.” That you have no problem raising the bar. You not only expect but welcome evaluation.
  2. “What is your management style?” This is a question that will let you know if you really want this job. No one likes to work for a, “It’s my way or the highway,” type manager. Keep in mind that the person interviewing may not be the person you will be working with. So establish that before asking this question.
  3. “What’s the company’s biggest challenge right now?” This says you are thinking in employee mode. You want to know the problems and will do your part to help with the end solution.
  4. “Why is this position open?” There is a big difference between taking over for someone who left under a cloud and a newly created position. You might find yourself having to prove yourself in a replacement role rather than taking the position and making it your own.
  5. “Is there any reason, at this point in the interview, that you would be reluctant to hire me?” This let’s the employer know that you are not afraid to ask for feedback if there are questions about your responsibilities.

Some Final Thoughts

The best advice I can give you is this. Two things, 1.) Be yourself, it’s very hard to be someone you’re not, so don’t try. 2.) Do your homework before the interview. Impress the interviewer with your knowledge of the company, and it’s products or services.

Each day without work is a breeding ground for frustration and self-doubt. I know it’s hard to hear that phone and not know if it’s a yes or a no. Treat each day as a new day. What ever happened yesterday is behind you. Only your future lies ahead so live in it — not the past.

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