9 Lessons Learned the Hard Way From 9 Job Interviews

The better your interview skills, and the better you understand how to navigate job application process, the better your chances at landing a job.

So whether you receive an offer or not, treat every interview as a learning experience. Although they can be stressful, try to keep your eyes and ears open so you can build on your interviews to make each one better than the last.

In my quest to land a full-time job, I’ve learned the following nine dos and don’ts that could be helpful for your job search:

1. Don’t get bogged down by qualifications

“Qualifications” are sometimes impractical. For example, “10+ years of proven success using social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to promote business” is ridiculous. Facebook first debuted (for college kids only, may I add) in 2005. The rest came along well after that, and it’s only 2013. You do the math.

2. Don’t accept timelines as fact

The hiring process is rarely fast. Interviewers and recruiters may give you an estimate of when you’ll hear back, but be patient. One week might turn into three weeks. Three weeks may turn into six weeks. And “end of the month” means you probably didn’t get it.

3. Don’t brush aside an internship

An internship can turn into a full-time job, especially if you make yourself irreplaceable. If you’re a bad intern, they’ll probably still recommend you to a different organization (unless you really stink). A lot of entry-level positions ask for at least one year of experience.

4. Still be nice to your parents

Without a job, moving out of their house is difficult. Pretend to like watching NCIS and teach them about “the Twitter,” and they probably won’t kick you out anytime soon.

5. Name drop (but don’t expect it to land you the job)

Name dropping is fabulous and should be done as often as possible. If you can say, “I heard about this position from my friend John Smith, VP of Marketing” in your cover letter, you’ll be a step ahead of the applicant who applied through the company’s online system.

It may help you land an interview, but once you’re in the door, it’s up to you to sell yourself for the position.

6. Realize that interviewers are nervous, too

I’ve met stutterers, fidgeters and even one guy who broke out in hives (which made me more nervous). These situations can be challenging, but your chances of getting the job drop drastically if you’re obvious about it.

7. Bring deodorant

Interviews make people nervous. Nervous people sweat. Sweaty people smell. Smelly people don’t get a lot of job offers.

Arrive a few minutes early, find the restroom and apply a fresh coat of deodorant for your big interview.

8. Don’t spring for just “any job”

Just because you get the offer doesn’t mean you should take the job. Everyone’s situation is different, but if you can hold off on accepting a job outside of your field of study, you should. It’s harder than you think to move from retail to writing or IT to marketing.

9. Include your salary expectations if you’re asked

Not doing so will only backfire. What if you spend hours preparing, drive two hours for the interview and complete a project just to wow your interviewers, only to find out the pay is $10,000 less than your current position? If the salary is a deal breaker, then find out how much the position pays early in the process.

Alyson Komyanek earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Public Relations from Kutztown University and currently works as a freelance writer in the Philadelphia region. She’s interested in landing full-time employment, so connect with her on LinkedIn or Twitter at @alyalyson25.


  1. Wonderful insight, Alyson! Job interviews can be a tough process to navigate through. However, if you’re prepared and understand every possible outcome, you’ll be on your way to landing the job. Another lesson to add to your list: make sure you know your professional story, inside and out. Employers love a good story, and if yours is on par with what the organization needs, you’ll be a more attractive candidate.

  2. jrandom421

    4. Still be nice to your parents
    Without a job, moving out of their house is difficult. Pretend to like watching NCIS and teach them about “the Twitter,” and they probably won’t kick you out anytime soon.
    If you don’t have a plan to move out after a certain amount of time, you’ll find all your stuff on the curb (if you’ve been reasonably nice) or at the local landfill (if you’ve been a real pain).

  3. Y8

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  6. Fierceswan

    9. Some companies deliberately don’t include the salary in the ad and you don’t find out until the interview that, indeed, the salary is 10k less than you can survive on because they want talent dirt cheap. Result: everyone’s time wasted.

  7. Salman

    There were some awesome insights mentioned in this post. I was surprised of point 6, interviewers are nervous too. That’s interesting, I thought that if they have been interviewing long enough, then it wouldn’t be a problem.

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