Interview Do’s & Don’ts: A Comprehensive Guide for Job Seekers

5 people sit around a large table in an office setting for an interview. Two men are standing, shaking hands and smiling across the table from one another. Text reads: Interview Do's & Don'ts: A Comprehensive Guide for Job Seekers.
Photo of Chrissy Roshak

Chrissy Roshak

Marketing Manager

Job interviews can be nerve-wracking, no matter how much experience you have. But, doing well can open the door to fresh career opportunities. So, whether you’re just starting out or ready to move up in your career, understanding the do’s and don’ts of the interview process is key to leaving a lasting, positive impression.

Before the Big Interview

Congrats on landing an interview! Before the big day, there are some key steps you should take to feel confident and boost your performance. Follow these do’s and don’ts to prepare for your interview.


Research the company and role: Show genuine interest by getting to know the company’s mission, values, and recent news. Customize your answers to match what they’re looking for.

Practice answers to common interview questions: Practice talking about your strengths, weaknesses, and achievements using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result).

Schedule a mock interview: Ask a friend, family member, or your recruiter to run through practice questions with you, and use their feedback to improve your performance.

A male job seeker is smiling and typing on a laptop, researching the company ahead of a job interview.


Just wing it: Lack of preparation shows. Take the time to understand the company and role so you can really shine during the interview.

Memorize generic answers: Authenticity always wins. Practice sharing your own experiences and skills, tailored to the specific role.

Arrive late: Punctuality is a big deal! Plan your route and include some buffer time to avoid unnecessary stress.

Prepare Questions for the Interviewer & Avoid Pitfalls

While it’s crucial to show your interest by taking the lead and asking some questions, it’s just as important to pick the right ones. Asking inappropriate questions can make you look bad and leave a negative impression.

Do Ask About

What it’s like working there and how teams work together: Understanding company culture, team setup, and how people collaborate gives you a good insight about whether or not you’re a good match.

The specific role and responsibilities: Make sure you understand what’s expected, key projects, and how you can grow in the role.

Challenges and opportunities facing the company: This shows you’re thinking ahead and genuinely care about the company’s success.

The interviewer’s experience and insights: Ask informed questions that show you’ve done your research and want to learn from their expertise.

Don't Ask About

Salary or benefits during the initial interview: While compensation is important, save that discussion for later in the hiring process. Focusing on your value and skills first shows you’re genuinely interested in the job.

Questions readily available online or in the job description: Do some homework before the interview. Asking about readily available information shows a lack of preparation and initiative.

A woman is touching her face with an inquisitive look on her face in front of a purple background with speech bubbles containing question marks.

Personal details of the interviewer: Avoid questions about their age, marital status, family, or other personal information. Keep the conversation professional and focus on the role and company.

Bonus Interview Questions

Consider asking thoughtful questions about:

Diversity and Inclusion

  • Can you describe the company’s commitment to diversity and inclusion?
  • What specific initiatives or programs does the company have in place to promote a diverse and inclusive workplace?
  • How does the company measure and track progress towards its diversity and inclusion goals?
  • Can you share an example of how the company has addressed a challenge related to diversity and inclusion?
  • What opportunities are there for employees to get involved in diversity and inclusion initiatives?

Company Culture

  • How would you describe the company culture?
  • What are some of the company’s core values, and how are they reflected in daily work?
  • What opportunities are there for professional development and growth within the company?
  • How does the company encourage collaboration and teamwork?
  • What are some of the company’s social activities and events?

Negative aspects of the company or competitors: Asking about rumors, gossip, or internal problems portrays negativity and raises red flags. Instead, focus on what excites you about the company and potential challenges you’d be interested in tackling.

Anything inappropriate or discriminatory: Avoid jokes, offensive language, or questions that touch on sensitive topics like race, religion, or politics.

Dress to Impress

First impressions count, and your interview outfit is your chance to make a positive one! It shows the team you’re serious about the job and respect their workplace. Whether you’re aiming for a light industrial or office position, follow these do’s and don’ts to land the job with a confident and polished look.

A man is shown from behind holding up two shirts in a clothing store, selecting an outfit for an interview.


Choose clean, well-maintained clothes: Choose outfits without wrinkles, stains, or visible wear. Invest in pieces that fit well and look good on you.

Follow industry norms: Light industrial positions usually prioritize function and comfort, so tidy pants, shirts, and closed-toe shoes are ideal. For customer service or front desk roles, go a bit more formal with a collared shirt or blouse and slacks or a skirt.

Tailor your outfit to match company culture: Research the workplace in advance. If it’s formal, go for suits or separates. For business casual environments, select dress pants, skirts, or blouses, but keep it polished.

Pay attention to details: Make sure your shoes are clean and well-maintained, accessories are simple and professional, and your grooming is neat and tidy.

Feel confident and comfortable: Wear something that boosts your confidence and lets you move and talk comfortably during the interview.


Dress sloppily or unkempt: Wrinkled, stained, or damaged clothing creates a negative impression. Invest in basic pieces you can mix and match for a professional appearance.

Underdress: While comfort is important, avoid overly casual attire in settings that expect a more professional presentation.

Clash with the company culture: Research the company beforehand and dress accordingly. If unsure, err on the side of a slightly more formal outfit.

Go for overly trendy or revealing styles: Avoid clothes that are distracting or inappropriate for the workplace environment.

Overdo the accessories: Keep jewelry minimal and professional. Avoid strong perfumes or scents that might be distracting.

Bonus Interview Dress Tips

Pack a backup: Accidents happen! Bring a spare shirt or blouse just in case.

Be comfortable: You shouldn’t be fidgeting or feeling restricted. Choose clothes that let you move and breathe easily.

Keep it simple: Avoid heavy perfumes, loud jewelry, or anything distracting.

Feeling confident and ready in your outfit can amp up your interview game and highlight your professionalism. Remember, though, your outfit is just a piece of your personal brand. Combine it with positive body language, a genuine smile, and a strong handshake to make a lasting impression.

During the Interview

You’ve prepped, you’re confident, and you’re ready to show them what you’re all about. Here are some key things to do (and avoid) during your interview to make a lasting positive impression.


Greet everyone warmly: Make eye contact with your interviewer, offer a genuine smile, and a firm handshake.

Be an active listener: Listen carefully to the interviewer’s questions and respond thoughtfully.

Highlight your achievements: Share brief stories about your successes, supported with specific examples and results.

Ask clarifying questions: If you’re unsure about a question, politely ask for clarification. It’s better to understand than provide wrong information.

Express enthusiasm: Demonstrate real interest in the role and the company’s mission.

Quote reading: "If you're unsure about a question, politely ask for clarification. It's better to understand than provide wrong information."


Slouch or fidget: Avoid slouching or fidgeting to present a professional demeanor.

Speak negatively about past employers: Focus on the positive aspects of your past experiences and how they prepared you for the current opportunity.

Dominate the conversation: Allow the interviewer to guide the discussion; highlight your skills without dominating.

Complain about salary or benefits: Focus on your value and skills, and save the discussion about compensation for a later stage of the hiring process.

Use unprofessional language: Avoid profanity, slang, jargon, and filler words like “um” or “like.”

Two nicely dressed men shake hands after an interview in an office setting.

After the Interview

The interview may be over, but your journey toward securing a job offer is far from complete. This section walks you through what you can do after the interview to improve your chances of landing the job. 

Thank You Notes

Your mission to make a lasting impression shouldn’t end when you exit the interview room. To ensure your impact lingers, sending a thank-you note within 24 hours is key. While email is convenient, a handwritten note can truly stand out.


Express Genuine Gratitude: Begin your thank-you note by sincerely expressing your gratitude for the interviewer’s time and the opportunity provided.

Reiterate Your Interest: Reaffirm your interest in the position and the company. Let them know that the interview has strengthened your enthusiasm for the role.

Highlight Key Qualifications: Briefly mention key qualifications or experiences that align with the requirements discussed during the interview. Remind them of your value.

Proofread Carefully: Before sending, carefully proofread your note to ensure there are no grammatical errors or typos. A polished thank-you note reflects attention to detail.

Respectful Tone: Maintain a respectful and professional tone throughout the note. Avoid overly casual language and make sure your tone is professional.


Avoid Generic Content: Avoid clichés or generic phrases that might sound insincere. Write a unique and thoughtful message that reflects your genuine appreciation.

A woman sits at a table with a laptop, writing on a notepad.

Procrastinate: Send your thank-you note promptly, ideally within 24 hours of the interview. Delaying the note might diminish its impact.

Avoid Lengthy Details: While it’s essential to express your gratitude, avoid lengthy details that could make the note seem too long. Keep it concise and focused.

Sound Desperate: While expressing interest, avoid sounding desperate for the job. Maintain a balance between enthusiasm and professionalism.

Bonus Gratitude Tip

For an extra edge, personalize your note with details from the interview and offer to answer any questions. This thoughtful gesture highlights your professionalism and commitment, leaving a lasting positive impression that can boost your chances of landing the job.

Avoid Mentioning Salary: Refrain from talking about salary or benefits in the thank-you note. Focus on your fit for the role and the company’s mission.

Follow Up After an Interview

While an interview marks the end of your active participation, showing continued interest is key. Following up demonstrates professionalism and keeps your candidacy fresh in the interviewer’s mind. However, timing is crucial. Wait at least a week before reaching out, respecting the interviewer’s time to assess all candidates. If they mentioned a specific decision timeline, adhere to that.


Wait for a Reasonable Period: Allow an appropriate timeframe for the employer to make decisions before following up. Typically, a week to ten days is considered reasonable.

Craft a Polite Email: Send a polite and professionally worded email to ask about the status of your application. It’s ok to request information on when you can expect to hear back about the next steps in the hiring process but remember to be concise, professional and respectful.

Reiterate Your Interest: Briefly mention that you’re still interested in the position and the company and remind them why you’re a good fit for the role.

Express Flexibility: Convey your flexibility and understanding of the process. Express that you are willing to provide additional information if needed.


Get Impatient: Resist the urge to follow up too soon after the interview. Give the employer some time to make decisions without appearing impatient.

Limit Follow-Ups: Avoid excessive follow-ups. Sending multiple emails in a short period may be perceived as pushy and can have a negative impact.

Sound Desperate: While showing you’re still interested, steer clear of sounding desperate for a response. Keep your follow-up message professional and composed.

A Muslim woman sits at a table with a laptop and is talking on a cell phone

Make Assumptions: Don’t assume the worst if you haven’t heard back right away. Decisions often take time, and jumping to conclusions can cause unnecessary stress.

Demand Updates: Avoid demanding immediate updates or letting frustration show in your follow-up. Keep things respectful and ask about the status in a polite and diplomatic manner.

Remember, a well-crafted follow up email demonstrates your continued interest and professionalism, increasing your chances of staying on the employer’s radar for consideration.

A man is sitting at a table holding a notepad. He is touching his chin and has a pensive expression. There is a laptop, coffee mug and plant on the table.

Reflect on Your Interview Performance

While the interview itself is over, your journey shouldn’t end there! Self-reflection is crucial for future success. Take some time to analyze your performance. Did you communicate effectively? Highlight your strengths? Use this time to identify areas for improvement, like stumbling on specific questions or forgetting key accomplishments. Be honest and embrace growth opportunities. Follow these do’s & don’ts to get the most out of the process.


Check Yourself: Take a moment to think about how you did. Be honest about how well you spoke about your skills and why you’re a good fit.

Think About How You Acted: Reflect on how you acted without words, including your body language and expressions. Consider how these things played a part in how the interviewer saw you.

Spot Your Strengths: Notice the things you did well during the interview. Give yourself credit for moments where you showed you’re the right person for the job.

See Where You Can Get Better: Figure out where you can do better next time. Think about times when you could have answered questions more clearly or made a stronger impact.

Ask for Feedback: If you’re working with a recruiter, ask them for feedback after your interview! They can follow up directly with your interviewer and find out exactly how you did. This feedback can help you see how you did from a hiring manager’s perspective and provide expert tips for improvement.

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Be Too Hard on Yourself: Don’t beat yourself up! While it’s good to think about how you could improve, don’t let it make you doubt yourself.

Ignore the Good Stuff: Don’t forget about the good parts of the interview. Acknowledge and build on moments where you showed you’re a great fit for the job.

Forget to Make a Plan for Improvement: Reflection on how you did in the interview isn’t valuable without a plan. Figure out specific things you can do to improve for next time.

Speed Through the Process: Don’t rush through thinking about your performance. Take the time you need to really think about how you did, both with your words and how you carried yourself.

By turning each interview into a learning experience, you’ll build confidence and refine your skills, making you a stronger candidate for your dream job. Remember, landing a job takes patience, preparation, confidence, and a genuine connection with your interviewer. By following these dos and don’ts, you’ll be well on your way to acing your next interview and advancing in your career!

Bonus Interview Success Tips

Be mindful of your digital footprint: Ensure your social media profiles are professional and reflect the image you want to project.

Network authentically: Build relationships with professionals in your field, as connections can open doors to new opportunities.

Embrace continuous learning: Stay updated on industry trends and develop new skills to enhance your marketability.

Celebrate your successes and learn from your setbacks: Every interview is a learning experience. Keep a positive attitude and focus on growth.

Got questions about your career? We’re always happy to answer questions from our readers, so send them our way!

Check out our other blog posts for more useful tips!

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