It’s hard not to freak out a little when you’re unemployed and the mortgage is due. But as the old commercial used to say, “Never let ’em see you sweat.” Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re interviewing during less-than-ideal circumstances.


Don’t be late, but don’t be early

It goes without saying that arriving late for a job interview is a kiss of death. But the opposite is also true: By arriving too early for an appointment, you might as well just announce how desperate you are. Also it gives the impression that you’re not respectful of the time the hiring manager put aside for you. Although sometimes getting somewhere early can’t be helped (you didn’t know how long it was going to take to find the place), you should just wait in your car until about ten minutes before your interview. Nothing creeps existing staff people out more than to see a stranger sitting in the reception area for an hour.

Leave your worries (and your bitterness) at the door

I’ve said this before: It does no good to unload all your frustrations with your past employer at the feet of a prospective employer. And for the love of pete, don’t mention your financial situation and how if you don’t get a job soon, someone’s going to repossess your children. Desperation is not attractive. Perseverance through tough obstacles is.

Don’t lower your standards, at least not obviously

In the course of the interview, you may learn what the salary is. If you plan on accepting it anyway if it’s offered to you, don’t make a big deal out of how the salary is much lower than what you’re used to. That does nothing but tell the interviewer that you’re going to be secretly disgruntled from the get-go. Nobody wants that baggage.

Know the line between eagerness and zealotry

Wait a few days after the interview to follow up on where things are. And if you don’t get the person himself or herself, leave a message on voice mail. And since so many people have caller ID, don’t call a million times if you don’t get a live person. You don’t want to look like a stalker.