Don’t Panic – It’s Just an Interview! Here’s What Employers Notice

woman shaking hands with a man across the table

There are various things that employers notice and look for during an interview. Every employer is looking for specific traits or experience when considering who would be the best fit for their company.

But they notice other things too, such as your specific answers to their questions, or how you dealt with certain situations. Some things are even subconscious, such as body language and tone of voice!


The phone interview is a way for employers to pre-screen candidates before they step in the door: this helps to determine whether the candidate has the basic requirements to do the job. Don’t panic, because most of these conversations are short – between 5 to 10 minutes – and then you are done! It will mainly consist of the employer asking quick questions to understand your skills and experience, and to see if your expectations are in line with the position that is available.

Here are a few helpful tips to improve your chances of success during this pre-screening call:

The first is: always be polite and personable when answering the phone and answering their questions. An employer doesn’t want to talk to someone that answers their phone saying “Hey” or “Whazzzz up”.

The second tip is: focus on the positive when answering the question “Why did you leave your previous job?”. Don’t dwell on the negative aspects that made you leave the previous position. Every company has its issues. The prospective employer listening to you is a neutral party, so all they hear is you complaining about your previous employer. Not a good impression!

And last but not least, always remember to keep track of the positions and companies you applied for. When an employer is calling to do a phone interview, they would like to know that you remember what you applied for. They will ask you what you know about the position, so being prepared is key!


The interview is the employer’s first time meeting you face-to-face, so FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE EVERYTHING! This is where you need to highlight the value you will bring to their organization if they hire you, so YOU GOTTA BRING IT!

All companies like to hear that you know what you are talking about, so DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Look at their website to find out what the company actually does and how they operate. This is an easy thing to do: check out “About Us” section on their website… A few minutes go a long way!

Another thing to keep in mind when preparing for an interview is to avoid DISTRACTIONS. Distractions are small things an interviewee wears or does that can distract the employer, and that means they will not be focused on what you are saying.

You need to limit the number of distractions in your outfit. Examples of distractions are:

  • Sunglasses on your head or hanging from your pocket
  • Fiddling or looking at your phone
  • Chewing gum
  • Really flashy jewelry
  • Strong smelling perfume or cologne, etc.

An easy way to double check this is to look into the mirror before you leave, and count the distractions. Then remove as many of those as possible before walking in to the interview.

And lastly, be CONFIDENT! No matter what, answer every question that is asked, and do so in a clear and concise manner, while staying calm and collected. The employer will look for how confidently you answer their questions, so keep eye contact (but don’t stare, because that will create awkwardness). Also, try to limit your use of “ums” or “uhh” when you need a pause.

Some other helpful reminders are:


  • Arrive 10 minutes early for every interview (no more and no less)
  • Make sure to call ahead if you are late (they may have other interviews scheduled, so they may need to
  • reschedule)
  • Always be polite and respectful
  • Be yourself!

Do not:

  • Chew gum!
  • Look out the window or off into space while you’re being interviewed
  • Seem like you are trying to rush through the interview (take your time)
  • Seem unenthusiastic about the position

I hope these tips will help you with your next interview, but they don’t only apply to direct-hire positions. You can use them when interviewing with a temporary agency, too. Temporary work is a great way to get your foot into the door with a company, so you can show them what you are all about.

Many temporary positions lead to full-time jobs and/or networking opportunities with other companies. So making sure your interview/application process goes well will mean that the person doing the interview will remember you for other great positions with the staffing agency!

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