Resume Tips & Interview Best Practices

Resume Tips

There are many resume writing "experts," workshops, books, articles, and advice on the internet that are available to job-seekers. While most of these sources are accurate and solid, here are a few key points to remember:

  • Latest statistics show that over half of all US firms have some form of automated recruitment process. That means that Human Resources departments are relying on scanning to handle the high volume of resumes that are submitted. Your information stays on file in the computerized data bank and is incorporated into ongoing search processes. This allows your background to continue to be searched for current openings over a period of time.

  • Computers do read resumes differently than people. Therefore, focus on nouns, not verbs. While you still want to incorporate "action verbs" (such as achieved, acquired, constructed, doubled, maximized, interpreted and negotiated), you now need to pay attention to the nouns that describe your role. For example: Keywords for Accountants: BS Accounting, IRS Amendments, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, CPA

  • Use acronyms and also spell them out. For example: CAD/Computer Aided Design.

  • Accuracy, Accuracy, Accuracy. Remember that if your dates and information are not correct, it could result in an offer not being extended - or worse yet, a rescinded offer. Include month as well as year.

  • It’s important to add a sentence or two to each professional company/experience of what the company actually does.

  • It is good to have an objective, but include it in your cover letter. Save the body of the resume to highlight your accomplishments.

  • When detailing your area of responsibility, make it as concise and detailed as possible. Include specific accomplishments, such as "increased new client acquisition 40%," or "reduced department expenses 27%," or " successfully closed $1.2 million of new business" and so forth. Be thorough, include your recent accomplishments with your most current employer, as long as it is significant to the position you are going after. Remember, you are selling your accomplishments to a future employer who’s asking, "What can you do for me?"

  • Bullets are easier to read than paragraphs.



Interview Best Practices


Before you walk into any interview, you should know as much about the company and the position as you possibly can. Your PCS representative will be able to provide that information for you. However, the more research you do on your own, the better prepared you will be.

After you have studied the company, prepare a list of questions to ask the employer.

Sample questions:

  • Why is this position available? What type of training programs will be offered to the person in this position?

  • What are your goals for this position?

  • What obstacles must be overcome for the person in this position to succeed?

  • How will my performance be evaluated?

  • What opportunities are there for growth in the next 12 months? Two years? Five years?

  • What growth do you anticipate for your firm in the next 12 months?

No one can predict the exact questions that an interviewer will ask, but your PCS recruiter will be able to give you a good idea of the hiring authority’s personality, his or her typical interview demeanor, and a few important questions that the employer is likely to ask.

To prepare, think about how you would answer the following questions:

  • Tell me about yourself. Keep your answer in the professional realm only. Review your past positions, education and other strengths.

  • What do you know about our organization. If you’ve done your research correctly, you should have no problem answering this one. Be positive

  • Why are you interested in this position? Relate how you feel your qualifications really match the requirements of the job. Also, express your desire to work for that company.

  • What are the most significant accomplishments in your career so far? Pick recent accomplishments that relate to this position and its requirements.

  • Describe a situation in which your work was criticized. Focus on how you solved the situation and how you became a better person because of it.

  • How would you describe your personality?

  • How do you perform under pressure?

  • What have you done to improve yourself over the past year?

  • What did you like least about your last position?

  • Are you leaving (did you leave) your present(last) company?

  • What is your ideal working environment?

  • How would your co-workers describe you?

  • What do you think of your boss?

  • Have you ever fired anyone? What was the situation and how did you handle it?

  • Are you creative?

  • What are your goals in your career?

  • Where do you see yourself in two years?

  • Why should we hire you?

  • What kind of salary are you looking for?

  • What other types of jobs/companies are you considering?

Interview Do’s and Don’ts


  • Arrive 15 minutes early. Late attendance is never excusable.

  • Clarify questions. Be sure you answered the questions the employer really asked.

  • Get the interviewer to describe the position and responsibilities early in the conversation so you can relate your skills and background to the position throughout the interview.

  • Give your qualifications. Stress the accomplishments that are most pertinent to the job.

  • Conduct yourself professionally. Be aware of what your body language is saying. Smile, make eye contact, don’t slouch and maintain composure.

  • Anticipate tough questions. Prepare in advance so you can turn apparent weaknesses into strengths.

  • Dress appropriately. Make your first impression a professional one.

  • Ask questions throughout the interview. An interview should be a mutual exchange of information, not a one-sided conversation.

Listen. This is probably the most important ability of all. By concentrating not only on the employer’s words, but also on the tone of voice and body language, you will be able to pick up on the employer’s style. Once you understand how a hiring authority thinks, pattern your answers accordingly and you will be able to better relate to him or her.


  • Don’t answer vague questions. Rather than answering questions you think you hear, get the employer to be more specific and then respond.

  • Never interrupt the employer. If you don’t have time to listen, neither does the employer.

  • Don’t smoke, chew gum or place anything on the employer’s desk.

  • Don’t be overly familiar, even if the employer is doing all of these things.

  • Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne.

  • Don’t ramble. Long answers often make the speaker sound apologetic or indecisive.

  • On the other hand, don’t answer questions with a simple "yes" or "no." Explain whenever possible.

  • Do not lie. Answer questions as truthfully as possible.

  • Do not make derogatory remarks about your present or former employers or companies.

Closing the Interview

Too many people second-guess themselves after an interview. By closing strongly and asking the right questions, you can eliminate the post-interview doubts that tend to plague most candidates. If you feel that the interview went well and you would like to take the next step, express your interest to the hiring authority and turn the tables a bit. Try something like the following:

"After hearing more about your company, the position and the responsibilities at hand, I am certain that I possess the qualities that you are looking for in the (title) position. Based on our conversation and my qualifications, are there any issues or concerns that you have that would lead you to believe otherwise?"

You have a right to be assertive. This is a great closing question because it opens the door for the hiring authority to be honest with you about his or her feelings. If concerns do exist, this is a great opportunity to overcome them. You have one final chance to dispel the concerns, sell your strengths and end the interview on positive note.

A few things to remember during the closing process:

Don’t be discouraged if no definite offer is made or specific salary discussed. The interviewer will probably want to communicate with the office first, or interview other applicants, before making a decision.

Make sure you answer the following two questions: "why are you interested in the company?," and "what can you offer?."

Express thanks for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
Ask for the interview’s business card so you can write a thank you letter as soon as possible.


When you get in your car, immediately write down key issues uncovered in the interview. Think of the qualifications the employer is looking for and match your strengths to them. Call your recruiter! Follow-up now is critical.

A "thank you" letter should be written no later than 24 hours after the interview.