Skip to main content
San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC’s top tips for a successful job interview

March 23, 2016

Job Interview TipsYou did it! You graduated college and are now looking for a job. Or maybe you’re close to graduating and have already started your job search. You triple check your resume and cover letter and send them in to apply for a few positions.

Several days or weeks pass and you get the call: The company you applied to would like you to come in for a job interview!

Congratulations! Securing an interview is the first step to getting a job offer. You are excited, but also nervous. Don’t worry, almost everyone has the exact same jitters before an interview.

Here are our top tips for a successful interview:


  • Spend some time learning about the company and, if possible, the person who will be interviewing you. Check LinkedIn and the company website and take notes.
  • Review the job description and think about how your qualifications match the skills and responsibilities the company wants. Practice explaining why you would be a great fit for the job to yourself in the mirror. It will feel awkward. However, you will get to see what your interviewer will see. If you notice anything you’d like to change, practice a few more times until you feel confident in your presentation.
  • Develop questions you want to ask your interviewer about the company and position. By demonstrating that you are interested in the company, the interviewer will know you’ve done your research.
  • The day before, make certain everything is in place for your interview: Extra copies of your resume, notepad, pen, transportation (car’s gas tank is full), child care and appropriate clothing to wear. Pay attention to personal hygiene – and do not smoke just before the interview; smoke will follow you in on your clothing.
  • No one should accompany you to your interview, not even to wait in the lobby. Arrive ten minutes early, and remember to be courteous to the receptionist.
  • To make a good first impression, practice developing a firm handshake. has some great tips about handshakes: “Handshake Etiquette”.
  • Once you’ve sat down with your interviewer, prepare…to listen. Your interviewer is looking for specific information that will help him/her connect your skills, education and experience to the position. When it is your turn to answer questions and talk about yourself, make sure to connect the information the interviewer gave you to your skills and personality.
  • Some interviews include leading questions like, “Tell me about a time when…and what you did that was a good solution”. Those what-if scenarios can feel like you are put on the spot. Be prepared to briefly describe how you have solved work conflicts in the past. Hint: Communication is always key in resolving conflict, so make sure to include that in your answer.
  • Throughout the interview, make eye contact with the interviewer and show enthusiasm for the interview process – it is, after all, your time to shine. At the end, thank your interviewer for his or her time. Don’t forget to follow up with a thank-you note.

Enjoy the Process

  • Don’t put unrealistic expectations on yourself. If you interview for a position and do not get it, trust that it was not the right one for you. Recognize that you did your best. Then move forward.
  • With each interview, your communication will become more effective, and your presentation more polished. Look at interviewing as the opportunity to not just find a job, but also to practice your communication skills.
  • Don’t forget: SJVC’s Career Services Department is always available to help you work on your cover letter, resume and interview techniques, and connect you with prospective employers.


  • Attitude is a powerful thing. Go in strong, and come out expecting success.
  • Remember to be respectful while showing confidence in yourself. When you are confident, employers will see it. It is what everybody wants on their team.
  • Remain honest. You are new to this field, so if you are asked if you know a certain skill and you do not, be truthful. Follow up with an example of how you learned a skill quickly in the past to demonstrate your abilities.
  • Be optimistic. When you answer questions, show your positivity. By smiling and laughing at appropriate times, you can win over your job interviewer.
  • Consider how your body language communicates your attitude. Make sure to sit up straight, face the interviewer directly, and keep your arms and legs uncrossed.