A successful interview depends very heavily upon making a good first impression.

With the exception of your written application and your visible presence, the interviewer knows nothing about who you are or what kind of skills you have. Combine that with the fact that your interviewer has a limited amount of time to spend with you, and it is easy to see that a good first impression is critical.

The following do's and don'ts may be simple, but they are important reminders if you hope to make a good first impression and land the job of your choice. You may want to read them over several times leading up to your interview and once again before departing for it. Good luck!


  • Try to find out a little about the department that will be interviewing you. Information may be obtained by looking in your student handbook, accessing the department's web page, or by asking your adviser or an upper-class student.
  • Dress appropriately in nice and tidy casual wear or even a little more formally, depending on the type of job you are seeking. (Aim for more formal than the work environment if you are not sure. Being overdressed is understood, while dressing too casually can make it seem like you do not have a serious attitude about the job.)
  • Exercise good personal hygiene. (Hair, including facial hair on men, should look neat.)
  • Be on time or even five minutes early. Timeliness is essential for every employment position.
  • Attend the interview alone.
  • When you first meet the interviewer, demonstrate self-confidence by making immediate eye contact, greeting the interviewer by his/her name, and offering a hand shake.
  • Wait for the interviewer to ask you to be seated before doing so.
  • Be enthusiastic about the job opportunity and friendly. Have a positive attitude and remember to smile.
  • Think about and be prepared to talk openly about yourself: what kinds of things do you like and dislike, what do you do in your free time, what kinds of skills you can contribute to the department, and why you are looking for employment ("job experience" and "enjoy helping others" are good answers, while "need to make money" is not, even though it is true for nearly all job seekers).
  • Make direct eye contact with the interviewer while you are speaking to him/her and while s/he is speaking to you.
  • Emphasize skills and past employment experiences that are specific to the position for which you are interviewing.
  • Thank the interviewer for the opportunity to speak with him or her. If the position was not yet offered to you, reinforce your desire to have the position and ask the interviewer when you might hear back from him or her.
  • Follow up after your interview by sending a thank-you to the person(s) who interviewed you. Thank them for the chance to talk with them and mention that you are very interested in the position. This is commonly done by e-mail but could also be sent by letter in some circumstances.


  • Smoke or chew gum or candy
  • Slouch or fidget in your seat
  • Speak or act "overly casual"
  • Wear short shorts or dress scantily
  • Interrupt when the interviewer is speaking
  • Ask about wages, time off, or other benefits. This information eventually will be provided to you

Remember: Making a good first impression is critical. The job is yours to gain or lose over other applicants, so present your best effort. Don't forget to smile!