Practical Strategies

Before the Interview

You’ve been invited to an interview – congratulations! You’ve already put a lot of work into getting to this point, so now let’s look at some powerful strategies for before the interview. This will help you keep that positive momentum.


  • Be sure you are familiar with the platform to be used, e.g., Zoom, Teams, Skype.
  • Make sure you have a strong internet connection and all your equipment is working, e.g. webcam, microphone.
  • Position your camera to be angled slightly down at your eyes for optimal visuals.
  • Turn off or mute your devices and ensure you will not have interruptions during the interview, such as a phone ringing.
  • A noise-cancelling headset can help keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Prepare to give your undivided attention. Close any programs or browser windows you won’t need.
  • Mute your microphone when you are not speaking.


  • Arrange a quiet, tidy, and uncluttered area with minimal distractions.
  • Ensure your surroundings and background are clean and professional. Consider a virtual background (an option available in many platforms).
  • Have a comfortable chair that looks clean (i.e., not torn up by your pet’s nails, etc.).
  • Before the call, let others in your home know you’ll be in a meeting so they don’t walk in on the call.

Desk Space 

  • Have a copy of your resume, the job description, any other important notes and documents, and a pen nearby.
  • Allow enough table space to lay out your papers so you won’t have to shuffle through them.
  • Have a glass of water at the ready for the big day.


  • Dress as professionally as you would for an in-person interview. (Yes, that includes wearing pants. And no pajama bottoms!)
Record yourself doing a practice interview! You can use the video camera on your smartphone, or record yourself in a virtual meeting environment using a platform like Zoom. You can play the role of both interviewer and candidate, but it can be very helpful to recruit someone else to act as the interviewer. Plus, you can get their feedback on your interview performance. After you finish recording, go back and review your performance. How did you do? You can download this example ‘practice sheet’ and use it to evaluate your performance, noting areas where you do well and areas for potential improvement. It can be helpful to get another person to watch the recording too so they can offer you some constructive feedback. Be sure to evaluate not only how well you responded to each interview question, but how you conducted yourself overall during the “interview”. Practice makes perfect! 

During the Interview

You’ve researched the employer and the job, and you’ve practiced answering a variety of interview questions. You’ve selected your interview outfit and you’ve taken steps to ensure you are confidently prepared for your interview. Now let’s look at some more strategies to make a great first impression at the interview itself.

Set the right tone before the interview starts:

    1. Arrive or connect virtually a few minutes early.
    2. Have copies of your resume at hand.
    3. Have your reference information ready to provide to the employer if requested.

Make a strong first impression in the first few minutes:

    1. Greet the interviewer(s) with confidence and enthusiasm.
    2. Smile.
    3. Sit up straight and make eye contact.

Remember to be aware of your non-verbal communication – your body language.

Click each of the non-verbal behaviours to see what it may be communicating to a potential employer.

Clearly, your body language can send powerful messages.  The same is true for your Communication Style. Let’s look at 4 basic Communication styles.


  • May show poor eye contact and/or body posture
  • Does not express their needs or wants
  • Avoids saying “no”
  • Can lead to misunderstanding


  • May use a loud, demanding voice
  • Often makes intense eye contact
  • May fail to listen
  • May blame, criticize, or attack others


  • Seems passive, but feels powerless inside
  • Becomes resentful and acts out in subtle, indirect ways
  • Has difficulty voicing their needs
  • May deny when there is a problem


  • Open communicator, yet not overbearing
  • Can express own needs, desires, ideas, feelings
  • Expresses self in a way that is also considerate of others
  • Can say no and use “I” statements well (I think, I feel, I want)

Phone interviews will have their own etiquette (as we’ve outlined already). If you are interviewing by phone, try to work in the following:

  • If the interviewer is calling you, identify yourself when you answer: “Hello, Jamie Jobseeker speaking”.
  • If you are calling the interviewer: “Hello, this is Jamie Jobseeker calling for Ms. Hiring Manager”. (Or, if they identify themselves when they answer, “Good afternoon Ms. Hiring. This is Jamie Jobseeker calling for our 1 p.m. phone interview.”)
  • At the end of the call say, “Thank you for your time today. I appreciate it and I look forward to hearing from you”.

After the Interview

Shortly after the interview is the perfect time to reflect on the experience. This means thinking about not just what went well, but also what you can improve on for next time. You can download this PDF featuring a list of questions that you can use to prompt this reflection.

You can use this Job Search Tracker spreadsheet from The Muse to keep track of companies you research, jobs you apply to, interviews you attend, and steps you take to follow up!

Last but not least, you’ll want to send a ‘thank you’ message. Yes, you thanked your interviewers at the end of the interview. But it is common practice to also offer a more formal message of thanks to interviewers within 2 business days of your meeting. Today this is commonly done via email. Here are some tips for writing a post-interview Thank You message, along with an example: 

Emails are often informal, but this is a business communication and should be structured as a business email. Be sure to follow these guidelines (and example): 

  1. Type the e-mail address correctly and double-check before hitting Send!
  2. Use an action-specific subject line.
  3. Use normal sentence capitalization
  4. Keep your sentences short
  5. Use an appropriate greeting
  6. Express gratitude and be specific.
  7. Reaffirm your interest in the opportunity.
  8. Mention something specific about the interview to jog the reader’s memory and connect this message to your interview.
  9. Express interest in next steps.
  10. Invite contact.
  11. Sign off with a complimentary close
  12. Include a signature.
  13. Edit and spell check before sending!

Are salary negotiations something you need to consider? Sometimes you’ll be asked this in the interview, but you could also be asked to share your salary expectations before or after the interview. The timing depends on the company. CERIC has some articles to review to help you navigate questions and discussions around compensation.

  1. man in red and gray v neck shirt wearing black sunglasses
  2. girl covering her face with both hands
  3. man wearing black and white checkered sport shirt
  4. photo by MabelAmber
  5. photo by Engin_Akyurt
  6. boy in green jacket sits on folding padded chair near door inside room

Media Attributions

  • Lightbulb via Careerspace
  • Thank You email example


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