Selling Yourself

Preparation Before You Go to Your Interview

Know your resume and questions that could be asked from it. Review your major accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses. Learn all you can about the company and product in advance.


Dress for Success



  • Suit: dark two-piece solid or pinstripe
  • Shirt: white or pale blue.
  • Tie: conservative stripe or club.
  • Socks: dark (equal to or darker than suit) and knee length.
  • Shoes and belt:black or dark brown.
  • Avoid excessive jewelry.For Women:
    Wear business suit or conservative dress; understated is best for dress, makeup or jewelry.
  • If you need a hair cut, get one.
  • If your teeth need cleaning, have it done.
  • If your shoes need it, have them polished.Do anything within reason to improve your appearance and be as well groomed as possible.
  • Be courteous.
  • Use a firm handshake.
  • Have strong eye contact (Don’t wear sunglasses.)
  • Avoid smoking, chewing gum, eating and drinking.
  • Avoid digging around in your briefcase.
  • Sit erect and avoid nervous gestures.
  • Keep your coat and tie on regardless of what the interviewer does.
  • Avoid all forms of vulgarity.
  • Where there is food and drink, order and consume lightly even if the host does not.


Things to Avoid

  • Be enthusiastic and assertive.
  • Be positive.
  • Have a high energy level.
  • Be vibrant.
  • Be self-confident.
  • Be concise.
  • Smile and show warmth.
  • Have a sense of humor.
  • Show strong work ethic.
  • Display genuine interest in the company and position.
  • Stress your strong interpersonal skills.
  • Sour grapes.
  • Dwelling on negatives.
  • Being too laid-back or too verbose.
  • Monotones.
  • Being a “cold fish” and giving no-humor responses.
  • Taking adamant controversial postures.
  • Emulating the interviewer.
  • Bad mouthing former employers or dwelling excessively on personal problems.


Do not talk salary! If you are asked what your current salary is, truthfully state base and bonus if applicable. Do not give a number that it will take to attract you or even what you would like to have. You cannot guess correctly, and thus will eliminate yourself or leave money on the table. If asked, simply state: “I am looking for positive career growth and would be receptive to a reasonable, competitive offer that provides such an opportunity.” At the proper time, your Columbia Search Partners (CSP) representative will assist you in negotiating the best possible offer for the given opportunity. The same approach applies to filling out applications. Do not give salary desired or reference information on the application. Be thorough with the other information. Indicate “salary to be discussed” and “references to be provided later.”


Closing the Interview

Post Interview Follow-up Letter

  • Express strong interest in pursuing the job regardless of your immediate impressions.
  • State that you feel that your strengths fit well with their needs.
  • Express confidence that you can handle the job. Stress teamwork and people skills.
  • Inquire as to any concerns or questions that the interviewer may have concerning your fit for the job. Try to speak to any stated concerns and be prepared to discuss them with your recruiter. Do not assume, but try to ascertain their level of interest and what the next step would be and the projected timing. Ask for the job; this may be your only opportunity to do so.
  • Thank them for their consideration.
  • Express strong interest in pursuing the position further.
  • Briefly reinforce why you are qualified for the job.


Keep as a central thought during the interview: You are playing the role of salesperson. You have one and only one commodity to sell: YOURSELF. No one is ever the “perfect” match for any position; therefore, there will be negatives regarding you or your background for this specific position. It is your job, as a “salesperson, ” to attempt to rebut each negative to the best of your abilities. If, at the end of the interview, you feel comfortable in saying that you rebutted each negative to the satisfaction of both yourself and the interviewer, the chances are excellent that you have “made the sale,” and the job is yours.