The Importance of the Job Interview


Most hiring managers have a general idea of what they are looking for in a job candidate. This includes things like the level of education, experience, certifications, and other qualities that they think are important to their particular organization. In fact, the majority of companies already have a job description written for the job based on the job duties that will be tasked of the job candidate. While job requirements are important to quickly disqualify candidates, the job interview is considered one of the most useful tools for evaluating potential employees. Yet, job interviews also demand significant time and resources from the hiring company, but has been shown to be quite unreliable in identifying the right candidate for the job.

I’ve heard some recruiters say that you shouldn’t apply for a job if you don’t meet the requirements stated in the job description, but sometimes candidates wow hiring managers based on some of the following characteristics even lacking the “required” experience levels.

The importance of the interview is that it is typically the final testing ground. This is where you can shine. Some of the best candidates do not have exceptional social skills and absolutely bomb the interview. On the other hand, someone with excellent social skills can excel in the interview and get the job over the perfect candidate based on the interview alone.

Your resume isn’t the only thing you should work on when looking for a job. The characteristics below are essential skills that should be sharpened before your next job search.


You can never underestimate the power of the first impression. Your first impression sets the tone for the entire interview. Your interviewer will make assumptions about you based on things as simple as a handshake, they way you dress, and even how you treated the secretary. To create a good first impression, work on the following:

  • Be Confident – Confidence is one of the single most important traits you can have. It is seen in everything you do, and will surely create a good first impression. Even if you are lacking in confidence going into your job interview, do your best to portray confidence in your demeanor.
  • Dress Appropriately for the Job – As a general rule, you should always wear slacks, a button down shirt, and a tie unless the job interview specifically says to wear something else. Even better, try to get a sense of what people wear to the office before the interview. If they wear shorts and sandals, wear jeans and a polo. If they wear jeans and a polo, wear slacks, a button down down shirt, and tie. If they wear button down shirts and a tie, wear a suit.
  • Postive Energy – Try to stay positive. Positive energy makes others feel good, a feeling that may make them want to keep you around. Never start the interview off with a negative comment like, “Man, the traffic was horrible this morning.” It starts the tone of the conversation in a negative light. Instead tell them how you love the location of the office building or how you enjoyed the commute. Stay positive.
  • Firm Handshake – A firm handshake is key to a first impression. No one likes the limp noodle grip. It’s just weird.
  • Be Well-Groomed – It’s your time to impress. Get a new haircut. Shower. Make sure your fingernails are cut or painted. These are little things, but these are things that hiring managers notice. Maybe not consciously, but they notice. Plus, it will help with your confidence levels.
  • By doing the things above, you’ll get the interview started off right.

    Ability to Communicate

    Communication is key. Can you communicate well with your interviewer? In your job, you will need to be able to communicate ideas clearly and to the same level as your coworkers. The hiring manager will assess what you say and how it’s delivered.

    If you come from a different industry, try not to use too much jargon. I was once told, “If you can’t explain it to a first grader, you don’t know it well enough.” Make sure you explain things succinctly and in a language that everyone understand.


    Be positive and enthusiastic. You want to show that you are happy about the opportunity. Your enthusiasm will shine through, and show them that you are confident to do the job.


    Employers are looking for smart employees. They want to make sure you are a problem solver, and can make decisions on the fly. They will evaluate the answers you give to their questions, the questions you pose to them, and they will determine your creativity, imagination, and problem solving abilities. They may even ask strange questions such as, “Why are man hole covers round?” Answer can be found below.

    Even though schooling, training, and experience are important, they are not always the best indicators for success on the job.

    The traits above may not be as easily measured as hard skills and education, but they do help level the playing field or put you above your competitors if you know how to present yourself to the interviewer.

    When preparing for the interview, remember to practice these traits as well.

    Why are man hole covers round? Because round man hole covers can not fall through the hole.

    Photo provided by: Thomas Hawk / CC BY-NC

About Paul Chittenden

JobKaster Co-Founder & Resident Career Expert
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