• Job Hunting 101: The Interview, Part 2 – Execution

  • Last month’s blog discussed interview preparation for prospective job-seekers in the environmental field. This article will provide suggestions to put your research and practice to good use in rocking that interview. Thanks again for the excellent input from my colleagues.

    Appearance and First Impressions:
    You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make it a good one. Be courteous and punctual - show up on time for the interview (early is even better). Dress appropriately for the position you are seeking. Unless you plan to work in high-end real estate or finance I don’t think a suit and tie is necessary, but you should look neat, clean and presentable. Personally, I don’t care about tattoos or piercings; but some employers and their clients do, and may think less of these personal fashion statements. It’s likely that an employer has already checked out candidates online, so make sure your Linked In profile is professional and perfect. Don’t forget to privatize and/or sanitize your personal social media accounts – Instagram pics of your beer pong tourney may be great for friends and family, but aren’t likely to impress an employer. Be polite, clearly enunciate your words, and avoid foul language, improper grammar and slang (I cringe when I hear terms such as ‘like’, ‘yep’ or ‘dude’ from a job candidate).

    Projecting ‘Likable Confidence’:
    Ideally, you want the interviewer to come away with the desire to work with you, and to feel that you would be a valuable asset to their team. You can do this by projecting ‘likable confidence’ and making others feel comfortable around you. You want to demonstrate self confidence in your abilities, but still know your limits. Strive to sell your strengths and minimize your weaknesses - learn from your failures, embrace them even, but don’t dwell on them. Never exaggerate or embellish your skills and accomplishments. Drop the ego, and learn to be humble and approachable. A few people do all this naturally; the rest of us have to work at it.

     Listen and Ask Questions:
    During the interview be sure to listen as much, or more, than you talk. Learn to read body language for cues to gauge your progress and know when the interview is concluding. Don’t brag, oversell yourself or denigrate others (like past employers) in the conversation. Be prepared with some well researched company-specific questions to ask the interviewer. Don’t ask about raises, vacation or overtime pay; when you could be asking detailed technical questions about a recent company project or report that interests you. This is where your diligent, pre-interview research pays off. Where applicable, bring some examples of your own work product that showcases your unique skills.

    Make sure you thank the interviewer for their time, both at the end of the interview and I would also suggest in a follow-up e-mail. Confirm an appropriate time-frame and method to inquire about the employer filling the position. If you are not the successful candidate, ask for constructive feedback and try to find out where you were deficient and how you can increase your chances for the next position.

    In conclusion, job hunting, especially that first position in your chosen field is very hard work. Stay positive, don’t get discouraged and keep striving for constant improvement – you’ll get there eventually!

    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA
    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (
    www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at info@down2earthenvironmental.ca