Job interviews: what to do and what NOT to do

By Candace Coleman, 17, Marymount HS
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You should:

1. Dress appropriately for your interview. First impressions mean everything, even before a word comes out of your mouth. For most teens, proper attire in an interview should be a "business casual" style. For guys, business casual means khakis and a polo shirt or a button-down shirt depending on the job. For girls this means a skirt slightly above the knees with a clean blouse.

2. Give a firm handshake. When you first meet your interviewer, shake his or her hand firmly. Firm handshakes indicate your confidence and professionalism.

3. Sit properly and upright in your chair. Good body language shows you are interested in the job.

4. Look attentive. Even if the interview gets boring, stay alert and pay attention to what your interviewer is talking about.

5. Continuously make eye contact with your interviewer. This communicates that you are a confident person.

6. Know the job that you are applying for. You should know what the job involves. You not only look prepared, but smart.

7. Know the company that is interviewing you. Even though you are being interviewed, it is important that you know something about the company. This also shows preparation.

8. Answer all questions clearly and directly. Interviewers can tell a lot about your educational background from the way you speak. Speak clearly and try to use language that you would use on a normal basis.

9. Talk about your accomplishments. It’s not entirely bragging, but in an interview you are trying to sell yourself. You have to let the company know why they should hire you.

You shouldn’t:

1. Wear gaudy jewelry; show any tattoos, and no jeans! If your appearance is too flashy, revealing or "alternative," it can cost you a job.

2. Slap the interviewer on the hand, give "daps" or a "pound" or give him or her a hug.

3. Chew gum.

4. Slouch. If you slouch, your interviewer might think that you are a "slacker," or someone who is not interested in the job.

5. Look down at the floor. When someone is speaking to you, it is rude to look away.

6. Come unprepared. If you don’t know much about the job or company, most likely you will not get the job. Ask friends and family, or go online and read about the company you have the interview with. If you’re not interested in what they do, maybe it’s not the right job for you.

7. Talk fast or speak in slang. Slang is cool with your friends on AOL Instant Messaging or whatever, but with business people it sends a bad message. Remember to engage your interviewer in the conversation. Try to avoid big words that you aren’t familiar with.

Do not attempt to hug your interviewer.