Job interview advice for new grads: Don’t bring your phone or your mom

This is dedicated to all the recent graduates who are interviewing for jobs.

I reached out to business owners, asking for tips to help you be successful. Responses came in from a variety of business owners and experienced professionals, including the owner of a dental practice, a successful real estate entrepreneur, a retailer, a magazine publisher, a specialty food company and a nonprofit organization.

Show up on time, dress appropriately, have a firm handshake and make eye contact were all mentioned. Here are 10 more wise words from people who could potentially hire YOU!


1. Be enthusiastic and have a great attitude

They can train you to do the job, but they can’t train you to have a great attitude. They recognize that you may lack work experience but a great attitude can go a long way in making up for that.

2.  Review your resume and cover letter for errors

A poorly written resume and cover letter can mean the difference between getting an interview or not. If you can’t pay attention to the details on these documents, employers fear you will not be able to pay attention to detail on the job. Have someone you trust proofread them for you.

3.  Review your social media pages, profile pic and email address

You should know by now that potential employers will check your social media pages. Be sure to project your best self! Your profile pic should not be the one of you partying in Cancun on spring break. Replace it with something more professional. Same thing goes for a “cutesy” email address. Get a professional address. Consider having business cards printed with your contact information.

4.  Do your homework

You know how to study, right? Study up on the company before you go in for an interview.  An interviewer will be impressed if you’ve done your homework.

5.  Come prepared with questions

Ask questions about the job, the company, the culture. What are the key traits you are looking for in the person you hire? What are the future goals for the company and what role might I play in helping you achieve those goals?

6.  Everyone is forming an opinion about you

The person who is interviewing you may circle back to everyone you encountered during your time there to see how you acted. I know a company that puts up their interviewees at a hotel then asks everyone from the front desk clerks to the van driver how their interviewees acted toward them and others.

7.  Do not bring your phone (or your parents) into the interview

Unless you are a minor child, bringing Mom into an interview with you is not cool. Nor should Mom call the interviewer and complain if you don’t get the job (yes, that happened).

Your phone is a distraction. Do not sit in the waiting room staring at it. Look up. Be present. Smile. Be engaged (see Tip No. 6). Leave your phone in the car — with Mom!

8.  Give specific examples of how you handled situations

You may be coming in with limited job experience but you’ve had life experience and perhaps worked part-time, volunteered or participated in group activities. Using those experiences, cite specific examples of how you handled situations that you might be asked to handle in your new job.

9.  You are interviewing them, too

Part of the job interview process is for you to determine if you want the job. You don’t want to take a job that will make you miserable or that you won’t be good at because it’s not the right fit. Ask questions about the work environment and culture.

10.  Send a thank you

Be sure to get the business card of everyone who interviews you and follow up with a thank you. It’s recommended that you send an email soon after the interview and a handwritten note the next day.

A CareerBuilder survey showed that 22 percent of employers are less likely to hire a candidate who does not send a thank you, and 91 percent like being thanked.

If you get the job, congratulations! If you don’t, it’s OK! Keep on interviewing, networking and developing your skills. The right job is out there waiting for you.

Deb Neuman

About Deb Neuman

Deb thinks Maine is a great place to do business and loves telling the stories of Mainers proving that it can be done! An entrepreneur at heart, she enjoys helping others with the same drive to create and innovate!