Graphic of two men in work suits shaking handsIn this blog post, we share tips on what you can do to make a good impression during a job interview. Employers notice more than what you say during an interview, and these tips offer advice on etiquette to help you stand out.

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The Job Interview: It's More Than What You Say

Sep 25, 2017

Graphic of two men in work suits shaking handsIf you read our blog post a couple days ago, It's Your Turn: Questions to Ask During a Job Interview, you know what to say during a job interview. In today's post we're talking about what to do if you have an in-person interview. Many recruiters say that how you look and act are just as important as what you say. Consider the following tips:

  • Ask for accommodations before the interview. If you need a reasonable accommodation for your interview, you may choose to disclose your disability before the interview. Read our blog about interview accommodations and learn how to ask for them before an interview.
  • Be on time (or maybe even a little early). Figure out how you'll get to the interview location—car, taxi, bus, etc. Then estimate how long it will take. You could even do a test run to be sure. Finally, on the day of the interview, plan to arrive 10 minutes early, but also plan for delays. Giving yourself an extra 15-30 minutes may help you arrive feeling calm. If you have a mobility disability, you may consider disclosing your disability to ask about accessible building entrances and elevator access before you get there.
  • Dress for the job. Most recruiters say you won't go wrong if you dress for the job you want. You can do some research to see what the company's dress culture is. However, if in doubt, a jacket and tie, suit or professional dress for a job in an office setting are always appropriate. For an outdoor job or one in a more physical environment, it's likely that khaki pants and a collared shirt would be more suitable. In all cases, neat, clean and pressed clothing will serve you well. 
  • Turn off your phone. You only have a short time with your interviewer and interruptions will break into your conversation. Respect the interview process by giving it your full attention.
  • Smile and use your body language. Smiling shows that you're happy to be there. Make eye contact if you can and even laugh at appropriate times. Yes, an interview can be stressful, but when you smile, you relax and appear more confident. Sitting with your arms and legs crossed may look defensive so adopt an "open" posture and avoid fidgeting movements if you're able. If you can't make eye contact, think about other ways to show that you're paying attention, like nodding.
  • Listen. Give the interviewer your undivided attention. Show that you're listening by your body language, and acknowledge you heard them by responding appropriately.
  • Close the interview. Closing the interview means asking for the job. Near the end of the interview, the interviewer is likely to ask if you have any other questions. This gives you an opportunity to tell the interviewer you want the job and think it would be a good match for your skills. You can even ask if they have any concerns about your qualifications that you can answer.
  • Be gracious. Send a thank-you note. Most people send an email thank-you. But if you can, sending a handwritten thank-you by mail will make you stand out from other applicants. If you forgot to mention something during the interview, you can add it to your note. Writing a thank-you note also gives you another opportunity to restate your interest in the position.

During an interview, demonstrate your knowledge, skills and experience to show that you're qualified. Following these tips and showing respect for the interviewer and the hiring process will make a strong and positive impression.

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Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSI or SSDI) and want to work. The Ticket program is free and voluntary. It helps people with disabilities move toward financial independence and connects them with the services and support they need to succeed in the workforce.

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