Job interviews : are you doing something wrong?


Dear Working Wise:
I have had several job interviews over the past two months, but I haven’t received any job offers or even second interviews. Am I doing something wrong? Feeling Overlooked

Dear Overlooked:

I empathize with you, extended job searches can be disheartening, but don’t give up. The good news is that you are getting interviews—that means employers are interested in you.

I have covered tips for preparing for job interviews in the past. Similar tips are available on the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at

You might also want to focus on making the right impression on the day of the interview. Some of these tips may seem like “no brainers”, but interviewers I talk to say they are still surprised by job seekers making these simple, but costly mistakes.

Make a good first impression:
– Be punctual: arrive 10 minutes early (factor in time for travel and to find parking).
– Dress appropriately: wear clean clothes and nice shoes.
– Come prepared: bring a pen, paper, and copies of your resumé and references.
– Don’t wear perfume or cologne.
– Don’t check your cell phone during the meeting, chew gum, or bring your own drink.

A job interview is a meeting between two equally important parties to share information. The employer wants to know if you can do the job and will fit into their team. You want to know more about the position and company to see if you actually want the job. Arrive early enough to use the washroom, calm your nerves and remind yourself that you are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. And remember, many interviewers are new to the interview process and may be just as nervous as you are. Be ready to smile or laugh—they need to like your personality too.

Engage the interviewers:
– Smile, greet the panel, shake hands with each interviewer and learn their name.
– Use their names during the interview.
– Sit up straight with your feet flat on the floor and lean in slightly to show interest.
– Make eye contact and listen closely to the questions so you can answer them accurately.
– When you finish the interview, shake hands and thank each person by name.

Answer with confidence:
– Take a few seconds to collect your thoughts before you answer a question.
– Come prepared with examples of when you have successfully used your key skills.
– Bring proof of your skills—numbers, examples, photos, samples, etc.
– Be ready with an example of a shortcoming that you have improved upon.
– Be positive – show your excitement and enthusiasm for the position and your work.
– Don’t talk negatively about past employers, supervisors or coworkers.
– Don’t talk to too much, use short answers and don’t interrupt the interviewer.

Ask questions:
Prepare a list of questions, including what you want to know about the position or company plus when the hiring decision will be made and the expected start date. Questions demonstrate your interest in the position. Don’t ask about salary, benefits or flexible work arrangements at this time. This is not the time to start the negotiation process—it might raise flags with the employer.

Seal the deal:
Send a thank you note that emphasizes two or three reasons why you’re the ideal candidate for the position.

Good luck!

Do you have a work-related question? Send your questions to Working Wise, at Charles Strachey is a manager with Alberta Human Services. This column is provided for general information.