First impression can have a lasting impact

Tips on job interviews

By Carol Kleiman

Chicago Tribune

Here's the latest news from the work world, with penetrating insights about job interviews.

The time of day: When's the best time to be interviewed for a job: first, middle or last? There are varying opinions about this, but Gina L. Gibson, a Chicago singer and entertainer, has no doubts that the earlier the interview is conducted, the better.


Recently, Gibson was asked to be one of three judges of a local talent competition. There were three winners -- and each had performed first or second. "Our decisions were unanimous and obviously none of us had forgotten the earlier candidates," she said.

From this experience, Gibson concluded: "If the interviewer has already graded your interview, you needn't worry about how many others follow. So never be afraid to go first."

Winning the telephone interview: Conor Cunneen, president of Grow Foodservice Profit, a Naperville, Ill., consulting firm, says he picked up tips on telephone screening interviews when he was downsized from his job as vice president of marketing for a large firm.

"The secret is to keep yourself motivated," said Cunneen, who also gives seminars on surviving the job search.

Some of his tips: Stand up when taking the call; you project yourself much more confidently and with greater enthusiasm. Put a mirror in front of you and check your reflection. Looking positive will help you sound positive. Dress as if you were going to the interview in person.

And a final bit of advice from Cunneen: "Try to smile. This may sound crazy but the person on the other end of the phone can 'hear' a smile."

And that should be easy to do. After all, there is an element of humor in being screened for a job by someone you do not know and cannot see.

Another telephone tip: What's the purpose of a preliminary telephone interview by an outside agency -- from the point of view of the employer?


"The majority of candidates screened by an outside vendor are for positions where things such as education and wage requirements are moot points -- they're usually low-level positions, where, by default, most candidates fit into the same bucket," said David Stiefel, consultant with PeopleScout, a Chicago-based firm that offers candidate screening services.

These firms "screen out candidates who do not possess a minimum level of enthusiasm or communication to perform on the job," Stiefel added. "For most of our accounts, about 65 percent of ill candidates are screened out for those reasons."

There is a way to succeed. "If you speak in a clear and concise manner on the phone and are enthusiastic about the position, the odds are you will be invited for an interview," he said.

Stiefel's best advice: "Turn down the sound on the television set with Springer in the background."

Frequently asked question: What's the favorite question asked in a job interview? Mike Worthington, a partner at, based in South Burlington, Vt., knows what it is. That's because his firm recently surveyed some 2,000 recruiters and hiring managers to find the answer.

The winner: "Describe your ideal job and/or ideal boss."

I wonder if anyone can answer that honestly and still get the job.

What To Read Next
Get Local