Ben shaking hands with an employerAs you get ready for your next job interview, it's important to consider what you can do and what you can avoid to make a strong impression with the interviewer. Follow these "dos and don'ts" to help you prepare and increase your chances of receiving a job offer.

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Interview Dos and Don'ts: Making a Great First Impression

Oct 30, 2018

Ben shaking hands with an interviewerCongratulations! You've landed a job interview! Now it's time to make a strong first impression. Because preparing for your interview is essential, we've put together a few tips to help you impress your interviewer and avoid some of the most common mistakes we've seen candidates make.

The Dos

  • Do learn the name of the interviewer. Your interview may not be with the same person who contacted you to set up the interview. When you schedule your interview, be sure to ask who you'll be meeting and make a note of their name. When you arrive, be sure to let the receptionist know who you're meeting. When you meet the interviewer, greet them by name. This shows respect for the job and the individual.
  • Do show interest in the job. Before the interview, re-read the job description and responsibilities. Highlight those duties that match your skills or experience. These are the items you will want to be sure to talk about during the interview. Think about examples to share with the interviewer. For example, if you're applying for a customer service position, you could talk about volunteer or work experience where you had success communicating with others to solve a problem.
  • Do stay positive about past employers. Even if you had a poor relationship with a previous employer, avoid talking negatively about your experience. If you're asked why you want to change jobs, consider answers that focus on positive reasons for change. For example, you might be ready to take on new responsibilities, learn new skills or assume a leadership role. Focusing on the positive aspects of new employment tells the interviewer that you want to progress in your career and are eager to learn.
  • Do ask questions. Remember, the interview is a two-way conversation. It's as important for you to find out if the job is right for you, as it is for the employer to decide if you are right for the job. Asking questions can help you decide. Interviewers often offer candidates the chance to ask questions at the end of the interview so you should be prepared and bring a list of questions with you about the job or the company. However, you can certainly ask questions during the interview if they're relevant to the topic being discussed.

The Don'ts

  • Don't be late. Employers want workers who are punctual and reliable. Showing up late to an interview can signal that you have trouble managing your time or aren't serious about the position. Being on time is another sign of respect. Plan to arrive at least 10 minutes before your interview. Map out your travel directions and timing the day before and try to anticipate possible delays that you could run into along the way.
  • Don't overshare. While you should be cordial and approachable, sharing too much personal information can appear unprofessional. Stay professional. Most of the conversation should be about workplace activities and your professional accomplishments. If you are asked about your personal interests, you can reference activities you enjoy in a work setting, like planning or participating in work-sponsored volunteer events.
  • Don't be the first to bring up salary and benefits. Avoid bringing up pay during your interview. Asking questions about salary or benefits too early may give the impression that you're interested only in the perks of employment and not the job itself. However, be prepared to answer questions such as what was your previous salary or whether you are seeking a particular pay range. Before your interview, consider how much you'd like to make and research the salary range for jobs in your field.

Ticket to Work

Preparing for an interview may seem like a tall task, but Social Security's Ticket to Work (Ticket) program may offer the supports and services you need. The Ticket program supports career development for people ages 18 through 64 who receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI/SSI) and want to work. Through this free and voluntary program, people who are eligible connect with Ticket program service providers, such as State Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) agencies and Employment Networks (EN).

When it comes to interviewing, many of these providers will help you prepare by reviewing your resume to help you decide which skills and experience you should emphasize during the interview. They may also help you practice your interview skills by doing a mock interview so you can improve on  answering different questions. You can also find more resources and guidance on writing a strong resume and acing an interview on the Choose Work! Blog.

To learn more about the Ticket program, you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.

To learn more about the Ticket program, you can call the Ticket to Work Help Line at 866-968-7842 or 866-833-2967 (TTY) Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET. Ask a representative to send you a list of service providers or find providers on your own with the Ticket program Find Help tool.