Venus Trapped in Mars

23 June 2014

Resume and Interview Tips {part 2}

So here I am today with the second post in a three-post series: Tips for Getting and Nailing an Interview! I talked all about crafting a cover letter that will stand out to a hiring manager in the last post. I can't believe how requested this post was, so I'm excited to bring it to you all today! 

As I mentioned in the last post, I'm not an expert, and there are plenty of people who may disagree with me, and that is ok! In fact, if you disagree with anything I'm about to discuss, feel free to let us all know by leaving a comment. The more informed we all are, with many different perspectives, the more successful we will be.

But what I do know is what has worked for me in the past. I also know what a hiring manager is looking for, because I was one for a few years! Now lets talk about resumes and interviews!

First: Let's talk RESUMES! 
This will be quick since I personally think most people are pretty informed on resume building. I really want to focus the majority of this post on interview tips.

Tip 1: Build a resume that looks the part 

I do graphic design and advertising, so when I was looking for work, my resume looked like a graphic designer's resume; bright, bold colors and visually eye catching. I can get away with a fun, upbeat resume. If you are applying with a law firm, you can't. You would need to be clean and sleek and elegantly simple with your resume. Your resume should not only showcase a list of your talents, but should reflect your desired position.

Tip 2: Have two different resumes. 

Not every job I applied for when I was job searching was for graphic design. So I had a simple, plain resume to use for more straight-laced positions I was applying.

Tip 3: Always (always always always always) keep it one page


Next: Interview Tips

Tip 1: Have a Proper Handshake

I have certain things I look for in a candidate and if I don't find those things, I will tune out the rest of the interview. The biggest and most important, that sets the tone of the whole interview, is the handshake...

Handshakes 101: If you don't shake my hand correctly, we are done. This goes to men and women. Just because I am a woman, doesn't mean guys should curtsy instead of shake my hand properly. I promise, it won't break into a billion pieces.

I don't want to see the following: using the tips of your fingers to squeeze the tips of my fingers, don't offer me a "pound-it!", don't shake with the LEFT hand, don't just place your hand in mine and not squeeze.

I assure you I am not the only one who thinks this way. Give a proper, full handshake with a hearty squeeze. If you don't, you WILL NOT get the job, I can guarantee that. GUARANTEE!

Tip 2: Tell a Story

When presented with a question, you should always try and answer that question with a story. For example, say the interviewer asked, "How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?" Respond with an actual time you had an angry customer, and you made the situation right for them. 

What I like to do is take every question the interviewer asks, and place the phrase, "Tell me a time when..." right before the question, so I consciously remember to tell that story. 

Tip 3: Ask the interviewer questions (they will love it.)

Come prepared with some questions for your interviewer. For example, at the end of the interview, the interviewer always will ask you if you have any questions. 

"Um, I don't think so!" Well, that's all well and good, but what if instead you had a few questions prepared regarding the available position or the company culture. 

Maybe ask, "What is the top priority for the person in this position?" Or, "What qualities does it take for a person to be successful in this company?"

Make sure your questions are intelligent and thoughtful. DO NOT ASK about how soon you can take off for vacation time, for example.  

Tip 4: Know the company you are interviewing with

You've got to do your research. Maybe this was wrong of me, but I would sometimes simply ask, "Tell me what you know about our company?" The answers I received from this question really told me who took the time to research our company, and who didn't. 

Don't just research the company, research the whole industry. Find out who their competitors are, find out what their competitors are doing well, and what their competitors are falling short on. The more you know about the company for which you are interviewing, the better you can answer the interviewer's questions, and the better you can ask informed questions at the end of the interview. 

For part 3, feel free to LinkIn with me, because I'll be back to talk all about LinkedIn tips!
And feel free to ask me any questions you have, if there are enough, maybe I can even do a part 4 for you guys!


  1. Tailoring your resume to the specific job is CRUCIAL. You should always edit it for the specific position and skills you're applying for!

  2. Ohhh, I cannot stand it when a man shakes my hand and it's like limp feeling. I immediately think "Gross. That feels gross." And it always happens right after he gave my husband a firm grip.

  3. limp fish handshakes are the worst

  4. Great tips. Adding stories to your interview answers really makes you stand out from the other applicants.

  5. I feel like you wrote this post for me. I was on your blog last night looking at part one of this series. you're a mind reader!! also this is awesome, pinning now!

  6. In a recent interview that I had, I did a lot or research on what kinds of questions to ask your interviewer. I then asked her "how would my performance be measured?" and "what is your favorite part about working here?" She LOVED both questions.

  7. Love the new look. We must have been thinking the same thing cause I have been working on changing the look of mine. Love this series

  8. Knowing the company is definitely a tip everyone should know -- I haven't ever been to an interview where they didn't ask what I knew about the company. One interview I was asked what my favorite philanthropy project was, why, and what I would do to make it better. Since that interview I have always prepared an example of something I would do given the position to make the company stronger.

  9. These are great tips. I'm so glad you're continuing with the series!

  10. I love this! I actually saw this on Pinterest and had to come read it because the title graphic was so purty. But I did so much research back in the job hunting days (only like a year ago) and your summation is much more concise and on target than many an article I've read.

    Handshakes, though... they're tough! I can't seem to make eye contact while also aiming properly for the other person's hand. Mistakes have been made.

  11. Thanks for sharing, I can't seem to land a job from an interview to save my life, I dont know what Im doing wrong!

  12. These are seriously so helpful! I'm currently looking for a new job so this is right on time!

  13. These are great tips - honestly I never really thought too much about my handshake! When I was interviewing for my current position, I asked my boss where she saw the company in five years and she loved it. I feel like that was a good way to show her I was in it for the long haul while also finding out if there would be opportunities for me to advance.

  14. Great tips. My husband told me the other day you can add World of Warcraft to your resume

  15. Love this post! I agree that handshakes are CRUCIAL.. if you don't do it right then GTFO LOL.

  16. It's so funny since I almost always have someone make a joking comment about my handshake - I have a VERY firm grip and I almost always forget to loosen it when I'm shaking someone's hand, haha. And I'm SO stoked that you're talking about LinkedIn next - that is one major part of the modern job world that I am totally failing at.

  17. This is so helpful and insightful, thanks for sharing! ;)

    God bless,
    XO, Claire

  18. Love the info on the handshake! Your info is spot on and helpful. I think asking questions is CRUCIAL! Thanks for the tips!

  19. Yep, my university teaches us to use the STAR method when answering in stories - describe the situation, explain the task, tell them about your actions regarding the situation, and then talk about the results! Keeps the answers succinct and not ramble-y!

  20. This is so helpful! I'm about to go job hunting when I get back from my holiday and I know this will come in handy :) Definitely saving for later, thank you!

  21. Since I don't work and have not been on a job interview in so many years I found this post interesting

  22. Love reading resume and interview tips.


  23. Thank you so much for sharing these, Sarah! I am interviewing tomorrow with a company and I am a little rusty, so this definitely came at the right time! oxox, Amanda

  24. The only thing I would add is as an education major, you are totally allowed to have two pages, just because we did a lot of student teaching field experiences in college. That's what I was told from the career center... but I mean I'm working abroad so I'm not an expert! haha. Great series, though!


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