DEAR CANDIDATES, I AM NOT YOUR MOTHER. Nine tips to ace your next job interview.

How many times have you walked into the break room at work and uttered the words, “How is it possible that grown adults could leave a space looking this way? Their mothers don’t work here!” Recruiters sometimes have those same moments of clarity about candidates. And, when they do, you can bet the chance of that candidate getting the job is zilch!

Whether you’re a new college grad or a mid-careerist, there are some basic rules of the road that you’d be wise to follow in order to have a positive interview experience. Let’s review them.

  1. Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the company, the people who work there and the role itself before your first interview. Visit the website and social media pages. It shows you’re serious about the job.
  2. Be on time. Plan ahead for potential traffic issues so that you’re walking into the lobby 15 minutes before your scheduled interview. Atlanta is notorious for traffic delays, especially with the new baseball stadium and the I-85 closure, so if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of running late, call the recruiter immediately. (And while on this topic, remember to make yourself available. Return phone calls promptly.)
  3. Dress for the part. This is one of those times when it’s better to be overdressed than risk being underdressed. A business suit and tie for men and a business suit or conservative dress for women is required. First impressions matter. Plus, when you’re dressed well, you’ll have a confidence boost that will translate to the interviewer.
  4. Show interest. Engage with the interviewer and any other people who may be introduced to you. Ask about any unique features of the office space or comment on the corporate website or anything else that really stands out from the competition. These ideas make for better small talk than weather or traffic.
  5. Be optimistic. Think positively on your way to the interview. Imagine yourself getting the job and what your first day might be like. When you answer questions, frame them in the context of the role you’re interviewing for and not the role you already have.
  6. Never bad talk your previous employer. We all know the saying, “What people will do with me is what they’ll do to me.” There is never a good reason to speak spitefully about any position you’ve held. It only makes you appear unprofessional and unwilling to accept responsibility. It is ok to talk about what you learned from a negative experience and how you would handle a difficult situation going forward.
  7. Do not lie. This should go without saying, but it is a total deal breaker. Truth always finds it way to light, whether it’s through the background and reference checking process, someone’s pure sense of intuition or on your first days when you clearly demonstrate that you aren’t able to perform the skills you claimed to have mastered. Just be honest. It’ll save everyone a great deal of time and trouble.
  8. Turn off your phone before you walk into the office. Don’t silence it, check it while waiting in the lobby or keep it in your pocket just in case. Just turn it off. It’s a sign of respect.
  9. Ask the final question. Interviews tend to end with the interviewer asking if you have any questions and it’s tempting to succumb to information overload and respond with a “no.” Plan ahead and have a few questions ready that show you’re interested in the role. Here are some examples: What are the next steps? Is there anything else I can provide to you to show why I’m the right candidate for the role? Would you share with me what you like most about the company’s culture? What does it take to succeed in this company?

Not every interview is going to result in a job offer, but every interview can be a great learning experience that inches you closer to your dream job. Just remember, your mother isn’t going with you. Follow these best-practice interviewing guidelines, and you’ll be sure to walk out of every interview feeling proud!


Need help finding qualified candidates?

Let’s talk. You can reach me at 404.822.9392 or email me at For 30 years, I’ve been dedicated to helping companies, medical practices, law firms and creative agencies in Atlanta thrive by staffing them with the very best talent. I fill a variety of positions including executive assistants, receptionists, medical front office billing staff, as well as legal staff just to name a few. I look forward to helping you reach your goals.