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The Do's and Don'ts List for Job Seekers

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: Are there some simple do’s and don’ts for my job hunt? I want to land a good job, but I’m wondering if there are some unwritten job-searching rules I’m not aware of.

A: I don’t think there are any unwritten rules for looking for a job, but you’re right: There are some things you can do to increase your chances of success and some things that you definitely want to avoid.


Research the organization and the people you will be meeting with. Use LinkedIn to find information on specific individuals, and learn as much as you can about the employer before you go into the interview.

Prepare examples and stories that showcase your strengths and then match your strengths to the job requirements. Request a job description before the interview—but if you can’t get one, use the requirements listed on the job posting.

Prepare questions for each interviewer. Successful job seekers ask good questions.

Do your research, prepare your examples, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be positive and friendly.

Be polite and friendly with everyone you meet—including the receptionist. Many organizations ask for feedback from support staff to judge how candidates interact in the workplace.

Arrive on time, but no more than 10 minutes early. Arriving too early is almost as bad as arriving late because the interviewers may think they need to revise their schedule to accommodate you. Use the 10 minutes to freshen up and chat with the receptionist.

Be positive and enthusiastic. You want everyone you meet to understand that you will be a committed, focused, passionate, and confident employee.

Get a good night’s sleep the night before, and know where you’re going so that you arrive as relaxed and focused as possible.

Dress appropriately for the organization. If you aren’t sure about the dress code, it’s OK to ask the person who sets up the interview or check the organization’s website for clues. When in doubt, it is always better to dress more formally than informally.

Bring a copy of your resume.

Follow up with each person who interviews you. An email will suffice, but a handwritten note is a nice touch.


Don’t talk too much. Your answers should be concise and to the point. Listen to the question that is asked and respond appropriately.

Don’t say anything negative about your past employers.

Don’t be too informal with the people you meet. Interviews are serious occasions.

Don’t lie or embellish your experience or education.

Bottom line: Do your research, prepare your examples, dress appropriately, arrive on time, and be positive and friendly. Relax—you’ve got this!

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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