Sharon Schweitzer: Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide

Sharon Schweitzer gives grads timely tips to make the best impressions at job interviews.

Sharon Schweitzer's Interview Tips for Graduates

As you enter the working world as a recent graduate, the job hunt is about to begin and landing your dream "Nine to Five" can be harder than it looks. Use these interview tips to help you make your best business impression.

Tweak the Resume & Personalize the Cover Letter:

Make sure your resume includes an objective or summary statement detailing the concrete contributions you can bring to the organization. Prepare a customized cover letter for each position you seek. Keep the letter short and to the point, leaving the reader with a professional first impression. Always bring 5-6 extra copies, along with printed copies of your references on professional watermarked paper, in a leather portfolio to the interview.

Do Your Homework:

Research the organization, the interviewer and the interview panel. Consume everything available on the Internet, and in print. Read the company website, Glassdoor reviews, Social Media postings, LinkedIn profiles, newsletters, and annual reports. Reference success stories in your interview in a smooth and casual way "Congratulations on your first quarter earnings" "tell me more about your exciting expansion plans."


Be prepared to stand for all introductions and handshakes with men and women. Make sure you have a firm web-to-web handshake, and introduce yourself with your first and last name. Be respectful and refer to the interviewer as "Mr." or "Ms." or "Dr." Remember to do this when communicating with company contacts before the interview as well.

Personal Appearance:

A CareerBuilder study found that inappropriate clothing and appearance was considered the most damaging interview mistake by 51% of hiring managers. The interview faux pas of wrinkled, dirty shirts, unhemmed trousers, ill-fitting clothing, revealing cleavage, short skirts, and scuffed shoes all damage your job opportunities. Invest in a clean cut suit that you can wear to all your interviews moving forward. Remember to dress in an approachable fashion; let your words speak for themselves, don't let your outfit do the talking.

First Impressions:

Normally it takes 5-9 seconds to make a first impression. In a job interview, you may have up to 30 seconds. The observations may begin when parking, walking or riding the elevator. Leave that smartphone in the car. Treat the receptionist with respect, many times his or her opinion of your behavior is requested.

Elevator Pitch:

"Tell us about yourself" is a routine question. Prepare and rehearse a good 60-90 second response. Research shows a well-developed, well-articulated personal narrative that refers to previous learning/experience and what you can bring to the team will ultimately set you apart. Don't let this question surprise you.

Body Language:

What you don't say actually can speak more for you with 95% of communication occurring non-verbally and 55% of your first impression coming from your body language. Employers determine interest in the job by your actions and demeanor. Keep appropriate eye contact throughout your interview. Focusing between the eyebrows can help.

Be Positive About the Potential Position:

Your passion will shine through your words and speak volumes more than any resume could. Employers want dedicated team members, show them your genuine professional interest.


Most interviews end with an opportunity to ask questions. Prepare 2-3 customized questions that reveal how seriously you are considering the position, what's important to you, and how much you know about the organization.

Thank You Notes:

Thank the interviewer verbally at the beginning and end of the interview. Then, send a handwritten note with a hand-addressed envelope, within 48 hours, on personalized stationery.

Good luck out there graduates!

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