7 Commandments to Ace Your Next Job Interview

I read this all too familiar blog post of job interview advice recently, and wanted to do one aimed more at the general job interview. So after years of interviews and reading job interview advice, here’s the list of unbreakable commandments for your next interview.

1. Lean forward in your chair to seem more interested and eager.

1. Don’t lean forward, it’s aggressive.


2. Follow each answer with a question of your own.

2. Keep things basic, short, and to the point. Don’t stray from their questions.


3. Highlight your abilities and skills.

3. Don’t talk about yourself too much, talk about their company.


4. Check in after a week to see if any progress has been made in the decision.

4. Never contact them, they are busy people, and bothering them will lose you any chance at the job.


5. Take notes.

5. Stay in the moment.


6. Accept the offer of water.

6. Don’t accept the water.


7. Keep it light with some humor.

7. Don’t joke with people who may not get it and be offended.


Mainly, I just want to point out that unlike the prevailing opinion, there is no set of steps you can follow to get your next job. You will be given lots of contradictory advice, especially about applying. You go through the trouble of filling out online forms only to have the system reject you for not having a keyword in the resume. Then other places hate your resume for having those keywords.

The best thing you can do is be you. Here I offer two anecdotes. One heard. One we did. They both go against the prevailing opinion that you should be always deferential in the job interview process.


A company was looking to hire a salesperson and was doing some impromptu interviews while in the area. They weren’t planning to hire anyone that day, but thought to do some preliminary work. The hiring manager had a rash on his ankles that required him to remove his socks. Interviewee after interviewee came in and answered questions and left. Then one came in, and the first thing she said was “Dude, what’s wrong with your ankles?” She got the job.


While filling out an online form for a job application, one of the questions was “What do you consider your greatest accomplushment?” Becky answered: “Graduating from Boston College. But knowing how to spell accomplishment is a close second. ” She got a phone interview from that one and was still in the running when she took another job instead.

Sometimes sassy works. Don’t be afraid to step out and get noticed. It may do you better than playing the timid employee that always does what he’s told. They see enough of those throughout the interview process.


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5 thoughts on “7 Commandments to Ace Your Next Job Interview

  1. I agree very much with #3. We’re in the process of interviewing people for a library assistant position. One of the candidates is very smart, is currently doing an independent study with us so we know he’s capable, but in the interview he could not tailor his answers to why his skills/ experiences will be an asset to *us*. We already know a lot about him personally, but what we wanted to learn was how he would function in the position, and we didn’t get that.

    Incidentally, RE: sass, when I interviewed for my current position, I didn’t want to have to buy a suit. Librarians never wear suits to work, so I didn’t want to spend money on something I’d wear once. Instead, I wore a nice dress and a red cardigan. As I was leaving, my new boss said to me “I can’t believe you wore red to a job interview.” I looked at my cardigan and said “I realized as I was putting it on this morning, that I actually wore this to the interview for my last job. It worked then.”

    I got the offer two days later even though they told me I wouldn’t hear from them for a week.

    1. The power of well placed sass is not written about often enough (at all) in job interview advice columns, but it’s one thing I find happens a lot with people who land the job. Thanks for sharing! Boldness counts, especially in an environment where everyone is advised to be timid and afraid to have an honest conversation.

  2. RE: Moses. If you look in the area between Mosses’ hands that are pulling his beard aside, you can see, perhaps, Michelangelo’s self-portrait. Optical illusion? Perhaps. But then again, this is Michelangelo who could do anything he wanted with a piece of marble.

    Another aside: Second question to me while meeting with the full hiring committee (13 faculty and administrators—Jesus & his disciples?) at a not-to-be-mentioned private Southern Baptist college in Kansas City:

    Question: “So Dr. Tammaro, what is your personal relationship with Jesus?”

    Answer: “Well, Dean _______, I’ve always believed that a person’s relationship with his or her God is a deeply personal one.”

    Epic. Fail. Answer. End of interview. Right? Yes, but we carried on for the next two days as if I was still a viable candidate. So why did a fallen-off-the-wagon Roman Catholic even apply for a job there? Naive, young (27), desperate, first time out on the job market. Learnin’ the hard way!

    1. Thanks for reading and sharing! I love that sculpture – got to see it in 11th grade on one of those “once in a lifetime” trips. Business interviews are hell, but from what I’ve heard, they have nothing on academic interviews (hence the linked story to the original post that inspired this one). So many ridiculous land mines based on whatever whims and personal idiosyncrasies the committee has.

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