How to Handle Damage Control on your Job Interview

How to Handle Damage Control on your Job Interview

How to Handle Damage Control on your Job Interview

How to Handle Damage Control on Your Job Interview

All interviews will not go perfectly, as much as we would like them to. This is why we need damage control. For example, let’s say you arrive at the interview and draw a blank when the receptionist asks with whom you’re meeting. It won’t look good if the receptionist later tells the interviewer. 


Here are some scenarios and fixes:

  1. Arriving late to an interview. Call the interviewer or the assistant to let them know you are running late. If you will be more than 15 minutes late, ask if it is still OK to come in or if you need to reschedule. You can always use the traffic as an excuse. If it’s an area you have never been in, say “I underestimated the traffic in this part of town,” or that certain roads were closed due to an accident or there was a flood.
  1. Can’t remember the name of the person you are meeting. There are a few things you can do to solve this problem. This is a pretty easy fix. Call the operator at the company and ask for the correct spelling of the person’s name. If you can’t remember the first or last name, then ask the name of the person under the title the person holds.
  1. Mispronouncing the name of the person you are meeting. The trick above normally works pretty well. When you call the receptionist and ask for the spelling of the interviewer’s name, also ask their pronunciation. Pay close attention to the way it is pronounced since some people might have a name that is hard to pronounce.  


  1. Spots or tears in your clothes. If you get to the interview and notice that have ugly spots or tears on your clothes and notice them when it’s too late, acknowledge it and get past it. Don’t whine too badly, just move on with the interview. If it’s an ugly spot, you can say you have lunch or breakfast, and spilled some food on your clothes, and didn’t have time to change or clean it up.
  1. Interviewer seems to have an attitude toward you. Keep your cool, and don’t say something you will regret. You never know who this person might know that you also know. Never burn bridges, even though you know you will not be getting the job. People are connected through different people and networks. Take the high road, and show that you have class and professionalism.
  1. You answer a question incorrectly. This is a tricky one. You will need to be at your sharpest here, in case you answer a question incorrectly or did not understand the question. If the interviewer seems perplexed or asks how you arrived at that response, you can say, “Sorry, I spoke incorrectly,” or, “Let me explain what I meant by that.” Asking them to politely repeat the question works too.


How to Handle Damage Control on Your Job Interview
How to determine if the interview was a success
  • Did you “click” with the interviewer, was there chemistry and rapport and a good back and forth?
  • Were you able to answer all the questions that the interviewer asked?
  • How would you rate the interview from 1 to 10. 1 being a disaster, and 10 being perfect.
  • Were you confident in the way you presented your questions and responses?
  • Did the interviewer ask you if an offer was made, when would you be available?
  • Did the interviewer ask you why you are looking to leave your current position?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your current salary expectations?
  • Did the interviewer ask you who you solve a particular problem if presented with an issue?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your proficiency in the job you are doing, and
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your role, and to give them an example of “A day in the life of”?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your drive to and from work, and if it would be a problem? This is normally asked for someone who is applying for a job that lives across town and has a longer than usual commute.
  • Did the interviewer ask you about remote work, or required travel for the position? This would be a pretty standard question for someone in a sales role.
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your leadership and management style, and why you use that style?
  • Did the interviewer explain what the position is about, what the job responsibilities are, and clear expectations for the position?
  • Did the interviewer tell you about the company, its history, what they do, who they sell products to, and why the position is open? This might be a position that just became open due to growth in the company, a new office was open, a manager is needed to manage a team, or that it’s a replacement position.

If it’s a replacement position, ask why the last person in this role resigned, was terminated or how long they were there. This should be a telling sign as to how long they keep their employees.   

  • Did the interviewer ask when you are available for a second or subsequent interview or when they want to schedule another interview?
  • Did the interviewer ask you about your education, and how it relates to your position?
  • Did the interviewer ask you how you handle recalcitrant employees (If this is a management position)?

Rate each question above based on how the questions were asked (If they were asked), and how you responded. If you responded with detailed explanations, and the responses from the interviewer turned to “chitchat” of a personal nature about the interviewers likes…….say for example how their favorite football did (If you went to the same school they did for example), or their favorite places to vacation, etc., then this could be good sign.

Look for body language from the interviewer to give you a queue if the interview went well, or if it was an unsalvageable disaster. Always stay positive regardless of how it goes. Facial gestures give away a lot about how someone feels in an interview, and that could help you turn it around if you see a gloomy face on the other side of the table.


4 Steps to Getting Hired

4 Steps to Getting Hired

4 Steps to Getting Hired

Start by Creating a Winning Cover Letter

The success factors for scoring your dream job are broken down into four elements:

  1. Winning resume and cover letter
  2. The follow-up phone call
  3. The interview
  4. The thank you letter

Hardly any job search experts focus on writing solid cover letters, focusing instead on resumes. It’s true that a resume can certainly make an impact, but if the reader has to go through dozens of resumes, he or she will see a lot of similar experiences, skills and accomplishments on your competitors’ resumes. So what sets you apart from the rest? A good cover letter.

Be sure your cover letter is custom-tailored to the position at hand, your accomplishments, objectives and skills, and give a strong case as to why you believe you are a great fit for this position. Do your homework on the company, and be prepared to mention how you will be able to help them achieve their goals, issues and concerns.

You can get some of this information from their corporate Web site and typing industry keywords into online search engines. You might get lucky and find out some common concerns, issues, and problems in your potential employers’ industry. The more research you do, the better you will be able to state these items in your cover letter. Some attention-getting items include education, accomplishments, career highlights, and company terminology that apply to the prospective company.

4 Steps to Getting Hired

Following Up With a Phone Call

Call the prospective employer after you send out your resume. The phone should be just as effective a tool for you as it is for companies that use it for interviewing. Remember to keep a record of all the positions you applied for, who you talked to, and what the next step in that process is. These notes should be reiterated in your follow-up cover letter correspondence. It will show your initiative and commitment to your job search.

Always answer your phone in a polite and courteous manner. Never answer your phone while eating, or while dogs or children are making noise in the background. Likewise, your answering machine or voicemail is a direct reflection of you. Keep your greeting short and to the point in order to project a professional image when a prospective employer calls you.

A greeting with loud music or a lot of people talking at the same time is not going to score you any points with the caller. If someone else is answering your phone, instruct them to give only specific information that you want to share with the caller. They should know you are job hunting and need them to act in a professional manner as well.


You’ve made it through the first two steps in the job search process. Congratulations! But don’t get too excited, you still have a long way to go.  

Here’s a to-do list to help you ace the interview:

  1. Unless you have a closet full of suits, jackets, shirts, and skirts (for women) or ties (for men), you need to go shopping. First impressions will go a long way.
  2. Make sure your shoes are clean and polished. Same goes for women’s shoes.
  3. Your clothes must be pressed or dry cleaned if necessary. Clothes that appear wrinkled, dirty, or smelly will have a negative effect on the interviewer.
  4. Make sure you are well groomed. Pay particular attention to your hair and face.
  5. Do not use any perfume or cologne. You never know if the interviewer is allergic to certain scents. Deodorant is necessary.

Now that you have the grooming part down, you need a strategy for what you will say and how you will say it.

A good start is a firm handshake, and then you might start off with small talk.

Example: I have heard great things about your company, I understand that ABC Company has 46% market share of widgets being made in North America.

Another Example: I read the article you wrote in healthcare weekly magazine about ways to minimize emergency room wait times and personal care to patients at your hospital. It was very enlightening.

If you plan on small talk, choose a topic suited to the prospective employer’s industry to show the interviewer that you keep up with industry trends and news. All it takes is a visit to the Web to learn about the company and the interviewer. Remember, always maintain eye contact.     

In your face-to-face interview, don’t come off too cocky or overconfident by giving an impression that you’re too good for the job or that the interviewer should feel privileged that you came in to interview with them. This sends a negative message to the interview.

During the interview, pay close attention and have your list of researched questions ready to ask at the appropriate time. Just remember that as you are being interviewed, you are also interviewing the company to make sure it will be a good fit for you.

Writing a Thank you Letter

Once the interview is over, the next step in the process is to write a thank-you letter. Choose your words wisely. Be sure to mention a few key interests, your experience, and the value you will bring to the company. Finish the letter by thanking the interviewer for his or her time, and express interest in the company and position. Write and send the thank-you letter as soon as you get home from the first interview. 

A hand-written letter shows a personalized touch. If you don’t have good handwriting, a typed letter will do. You can mail or hand-deliver your thank-you letter to the interviewer’s office to his/her assistant. It is also becoming increasingly acceptable to send the letter via e-mail.

If the interviewer’s hiring decision came down to you and another candidate with identical backgrounds and experience, and you were the one that sent a thank-you letter, I would bet money you would get the job.

You are your own advertising billboard, so go out there and advertise your skills and abilities.


Tips to Dress for Success on an Interview

Tips to Dress for Success on an Interview

Tips to Dress for Success on an Interview

Make your first impression count. Here are some tips to dress for success in an interview.

Your appearance tells the employer how you see yourself. Would you show up to an interview with shorts and flip-flops? It might not leave a good impression with the employer. Incidentally, I did interview someone that came to an interview in shorts and flip-flops.

The story I was told was that he was on his boat earlier in the day, and didn’t have time to change into a suit before coming to the interview. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.

Does it really make a difference how you dress for an interview? Simply put, yes it does. Your clothes, hairstyle and choice of accessories constitute your professional image. It shows you cared enough about the job opportunity and company to polish your shoes, clean and press your suit and shirt, and groom yourself to project a professional image.

Remember, you will be making a first impression as soon as you walk into the room to meet the interviewer.

If you’re not sure about the company dress code or policy, find out from the person who scheduled your interview. They should be able to give you some insight into the company culture and dress policies.

There are a number of things you can do to make that first impression a good one.


Tips to Dress for Success on an Interview


Tips for Men

  • Shoes are very important. Make sure they are polished and appropriate for that environment. 
  • The best colors for men’s suits are black, navy blue and dark gray. Your suit can have pinstripes but only if they are faint or barely noticeable. You don’t want the strips to be a distraction for the interview. If you live in a warm climate area, try to wear a suit with a lighter wool fabric.  
  • Depending on what type of interview it is, a suit jacket and matching pair of dress pants always works best, and will make a nice presentation. If you don’t own a suit, a pressed pair of dark dress pants and a dress shirt with a blazer will suffice. If the interview is for a professional or management position, you may want to go with a suit and a pressed or laundered shirt. Although it is important not to over-dress, it is equally important not to be under-dressed for an interview.  
  • Select a simple tie. You don’t want the interviewer’s attention to be on your tie.
  • Your suit should fit comfortable in a sitting and walking position. It shouldn’t be too tight around your waist or shoulders. The front jacket buttons shouldn’t feel tight while buttoned.
  • Remember to brush your teeth before you leave for an interview. Don’t eat or smoke before an interview.
  • If the company culture has a younger vibe, and you’re accustomed to wearing slim fitting or custom bespoke suits, then by all means do so. You need to find this out well before the interview though. You would need to have that conversation with the person scheduling the interview.
  • It’s always safe to choose a conservative color when it comes to your outfit. Safe colors include Blue, Black, Tan, Brown, or Gray.
  • Solid dark socks are always safest. Modern sock styles and colors have become popular in a dressier corporate environment, but I would play it safe and avoid polka dots, geometric designs, multi-stripes, and the like.
  • The sweater you select to accompany your suit should be Off-White, Beige, Blue, or a color which complements your suit.  
  • Stay away from wearing Cologne or aftershave on an interview. You don’t know if the interviewer has allergies to strong smells, and may end the interview early.
  • Choose wool fabrics in cooler months and linen in warmer months. Stay away from 100% polyester blends and stay in season with your fabrics.
  • If the business environment is “casual” or “semi-casual”, don’t wear jeans, even if the staff does, and even if it is casual Friday. 
  • Carry a lightweight briefcase or binder briefcase, and remember to keep your binder closed so as not to show extra resumes or other important documents.

Tips to Dress for Success on an Interview


Tips for Women


  • Don’t wear excessive accessories.
  • Don’t wear excessive make-up.
  • Shoes should be polished to a shine. Conservative, but not too flashy.
  • The blouse you select to accompany your suit should be white, off-white, beige, or a color which complements your suit.
  • Nails should be manicured and neat. Avoid long nails.
  • Your suit should fit comfortable in a sitting and walking position as well. It shouldn’t be too tight around your chest area. You should be able to button and unbutton your jacket comfortably.
  • Remember to brush your teeth before you leave for an interview. Don’t eat or smoke before an interview.
  • Stay away from wearing perfume on an interview. You don’t know if the interviewer has allergies to strong smells, and may end the interview early.
  • A conservative business suit is best in a solid dark color, with matching shoes.
  • Your shoes should be comfortable and you should be able to walk in them easily.
  • A tailored suit is always appropriate for an interview.
  • Pick out your clothes and get them the night before the interview. You don’t want to rush to get dressed and risk arriving to the interview late.  
  • Lightweight briefcase, laptop bag or portfolio binder should be neat and easy to carry.
  • Don’t let your hair be distracting. If you have permed or curly hair, keep the look conservative and professional. If you have long hair, you can use a Low Bun, High Pony Tail, French Twist, Long Ponytail, or a Braid/Bun combination, but keep it neat.

Dressing for a second Interview:

The general rule for a second interview should be the same as the first one. Dress professionally. Unless you are specifically told to dress differently by the interviewer, I would dress in the same fashion as the first interview but a slight change in acceptable colors from the list above.

Dressing after getting hired:

You’ll get a pretty good idea of the dress code, and what is acceptable to wear after you get hired. Whatever it may be….i.e. business casual, professional dress, Friday jeans day, etc. In any case, always present yourself in a professional manner, and take the time to project your image as someone who is respectable.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at


8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

8 Steps to Success at Career Fairs

This will outline eight steps to help give you an advantage over the many other job seekers by making the most of your career-fair efforts.

There are a variety of job fairs out there, and some of them are more worth your time than others. Some job fairs are specific to industry. Your alma mater might offer a job fair. There are also industry trade shows that have job boards or recruiting days, along with the opportunity to talk about jobs with exhibitors.

Large company’s also put on job fairs of their own to recruit candidates as well. They do this at one or more of their locations that can accommodate large groups of people. You can find and research job fairs through local newspapers, cable TV stations, the internet, business publications, and college recruiting offices. Career job fairs should only be a small part of your overall job search strategy.

  1. Register for a Job Fair. Pre-registering for the event is recommended, because most job fairs allow you to register online. You might be asked to submit a resume or summary resume. Pre-registration allows employers to prescreen applicants and make note of those they want to meet at the fair. Pre-registration does not guarantee that you will get noticed or that employers will even look at the registrations. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to pre-register since it’s easy to do and can reap big benefits.
  1. Research attending companies. I cannot overemphasize the importance of going to the web and researching the companies with which you plan to visit while you’re at the job fair. There will be hundreds, or in the case of larger job fairs, thousands of applicants who will be going to the same booth you plan to visit. Ask yourself, why will they consider you for their position instead of the many others who have shown up and told them what a great candidate they are? When you go to a job fair, be ready to interview. Often the people at the booth are recruiters or human resource professionals. The interview begins as soon as you walk up to the booth. The recruiter will size you up by noting your attire, your demeanor, your handshake, and how you conduct yourself during this conversation.
  1. Bring resumes. Bring lots of resumes to the fair, at least two for each company in which you have an interest. If you have multiple interests or job objectives, bring enough of each version of your resume. Make a good impression on recruiters by handing them a hard copy of your resume, collecting their business cards and promising to e-mail them a soft copy later in the day. Recruiters appreciate having a soft copy so they can reformat it when they present it to their clients or for internal use. Be productive at job fairs because they only last a day or two. Goal: Schedule an in-person interview with at least one exhibitor that you have an interest in.
  1. Wear appropriate conference attire. Conservative business attire is essential because image and first impressions are critical. Find out what is the expected attire for the conference and dress accordingly. It’s always better to be overdressed than underdressed. A business suit always works best. Make sure the suit is clean and pressed.
  1. Devise an overall strategy. You need to devise a strategy or plan of attack for the fair. You’ve already done the first step by researching the companies you are interested in. The next step is to survey the layout of the fair and determine an order of interviewing. Some experts suggest meeting with your top choices first thing in the morning, interviewing with your other choices in the middle of the day, and returning to your top choices at the end of the day to thank them again for their time. But remember to stay flexible as your top choices may be the top choices for many.
  1. Hone your one-minute pitch. You won’t have much time to interview, so make every minute productive. You don’t want to be screened out early. Develop a one-minute “marketing” power discussion highlighting the key benefits that you can offer the organization. Also remember the four keys to all interviews: Make eye contact, offer a firm handshake, show enthusiasm and smile. You should also be prepared to answer interview questions just as you would any employment interview. Conclude the discussion by asking, “What do I need to do to obtain a second in-person interview with your firm?”
  1. Network While at the Job Fair. Career fairs are all about networking. You’re obviously building a network with the recruiters, but you can also network with your fellow job-seekers. Your peers can help by sharing information about job leads, companies, and their recruiting strategies and styles. There might also be professional organizations or employment agencies on hand at the fair, which are also good sources for networking.

Follow up. You would be surprised at how few job seekers actually take the time to follow up on their career fair interviews. Some experts suggest calling the recruiter the evening of the fair and leaving a voicemail message thanking them for their time. The more traditional approach is to write a thank-you note and mail it the next day. Thank the recruiter for their time, restate your interest in the position, reiterate your interest for a second interview and promise to follow up later with a phone call. Make sure you call! Enclose another copy of your resume with the thank-you letter.

For other job related statistics and relevant data, you can visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics website at