Resumes, Letters & Interviews

Preparing for an interview

Confirming an interview

The way you interact with recruiters and hiring managers is just as important as your skills and qualifications when you’re looking for a job. The manner in which you handle verbal and written communication is likely to be an integral part of the job, so demonstrate proper etiquette in all responses to the company: from the early stages through the selection process. Take the opportunity to make a good first impression by being professional and considerate when you confirm interview appointments.

Email response: Thanks to technology, you can usually respond immediately, or at least quickly, to an interview request. Check your email frequently, and answer all requests as soon as possible. If you receive an email on your smartphone, send a message saying, "Thank you for your invitation to interview with ABC Company. Yes, I am available on Tuesday, September 4, at 2:00 p.m. I'm in a remote spot now and will send another confirmation once I get back to my home office." To make sure the recruiter knows you're responding remotely, you can add a signature line saying the message was sent from a mobile phone.

Phone response: If you receive a telephone call asking you to confirm your interview appointment, try to answer the call personally when it comes through. In a pleasant voice, thank the recruiter for the interview request and tell them you are available at the scheduled time. If you get a voicemail, call back and say, "thank you for calling to schedule an interview time. I'm sorry I wasn't able to take your call, but I'm available to interview with you on Tuesday, September 4, at 2:00 p.m., and I look forward to seeing you then." Use the recruiter's name when you call and pick a time when you won't be interrupted or have noise in the background.

Alternative time: If the day and time the recruiter offers for your interview isn't convenient for you, consider rearranging your schedule to accommodate the recruiter's. Tell the interviewer that you appreciate the invitation and you're looking forward to meeting with them, but that you have a scheduling conflict. You can say that you may be able to rearrange your schedule, but that you need a few hours to do so, or you can suggest alternative dates. Always try to make it easy for the recruiter since you're the one looking for a job.

Timeliness: Recruiters don’t have a lot of time to wait for you to confirm an interview time, so the sooner you can get back to them the better. Often interview slots are first come/first served, so you want to be as prompt as possible to get an interview slot that works best with your schedule.

Appreciation: Express your appreciation for being selected for an interview. There may be hundreds of applicants, depending on the job, who have applied for that same position. The fact that you were selected says that you have strong qualifications for the position. It also means that the recruiter extended you a courtesy in inviting you to interview with the company, so make sure you thank them.

Adapted from Ruth Mayhew, Demand Media


How to dress for an interview

Before you say a single word to the interviewer, you have already made an impression based on how you’re dressed. The guidelines given here are commonly accepted as appropriate for interviewing. The interview is not the time to try to set new standards. When in doubt, conservative is better than flashy and a suit is usually the safest bet.

Make an appointment with Career Services to setup a mock interview and get tips for successful interview strategies.

"You want your responses to the interviewers' questions to stand out and be memorable, not the outfit you were wearing." - Dakota Bennett, UW Bothell Career Coach


Guidelines for interview attire

You want your experience and qualifications to shine. Your appearance should enhance your presentation, not overwhelm it.

Hygiene is important and so are first impressions

  • Fresh breath (carry mints with you; be sure to spit out chewing gum before the interview)
  • Make sure your hair is neat, for those with facial hair, this includes being clean shaven or having a neatly trimmed beard
  • Keep nails trimmed neatly and if wearing nail polish, choose a color/style that is not distracting

Keep it simple

  • Avoid strong fragrances and excessive accessories and make-up
  • Choose solid colors rather than flashy patterns
  • Bright ties bring focus to the face, but a simple pattern is best for an interview
  • Wear polished close-toed shoes with socks high enough so no skin is visible when you sit down and cross your legs, socks and belt should match your shoes
  • Cover tattoos, when applicable, if possible


Dressing for work

Relaxed workplace attire is becoming the norm. At many companies "casual Friday" has expanded to the rest of the week. Each company, season, industry, and geographic region will call for different fashion decisions; how you dress at the job may have very little to do with how you dress for an interview. After being offered a position, it's a good idea to simply ask your supervisor about the dress code when you're unsure of those expectations. Additionally, you can research how employees dress by reviewing their website or taking note of how folks were dressed during your interview.