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June 23, 2014 at 1:00 AM

6 tips for a stress-free interview day

One day while I was on a conference call, a car pulled up outside the building, directly in front of my office windows. While I finished the call, I saw a woman primp for 15 minutes. She brushed her hair and sprayed it with hair spray, applied lipstick several times and then sat in the car with her eyes closed. Finally, she opened her umbrella and dashed through the rain into the building.

Minutes later, the receptionist called to tell me my interview candidate had just arrived. It turned out to be the woman in the car. When she realized I was the person in the office, her face turned red and she could hardly say her name after I introduced myself. I had to give her credit for making sure she arrived early to the interview and for trying to look her best, but I could tell that she was horrified.

Don’t let your interview get derailed by little things like this. When the day arrives, ensure that it goes as smoothly as possible by following these recommendations:

Know where you need to go. Don’t wait until right before an interview to see whether you have the correct address and phone number. Verify these online by checking the company website a few days before, and program the address into your smartphone or GPS device to find the potential routes and estimated drive time.

Schedule enough time for the interview. If the discussion goes well, you might be asked to stay and interview with others, so block out plenty of time on your calendar.

Pop a breath mint. Finish it before you meet with the hiring manager. And never chew gum during an interview.

Turn off your cellphone. Don’t just switch it to vibrate mode. Your concentration should be on the hiring manager, not on your phone.

Conduct a mirror check. Before you leave home, look at yourself from head to toe. Then, before you get out of your car at the interview, take another quick look. Hair in place? Check. Nothing stuck between teeth? Check.

Remember that you’re on stage. From the moment you arrive until you leave, you are making impressions. Be polite and professional to everyone, because you never know when the people you meet will report back to the hiring manager with their thoughts on their encounter with you.

In case you’re wondering about the woman I saw in front of my office windows, I gave her the job. After we sat down for the interview, she apologized for what I had seen. She explained how she was so excited about the job opportunity that when she arrived early, she had touched up her hair and makeup to help ease her jitters. Then she laughed about the odds of parking directly outside the office of the hiring manager. Her honesty was refreshing, and she was able to overcome her initial embarrassment through her sense of humor and strong communication skills.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: appearance, interviewing, stress

Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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