Interviewing Techniques

Once you have fine-tuned your resume and cover letter, it is time to begin the application process. Applications are typically submitted in one of three ways.

  • In person: Bring a neat and organized packet containing all your materials to the prospective employer’s workplace. It is recommended that you ask ahead of time for the best time to deliver your materials. When you arrive, ask to speak to the hiring manager and try to hand your materials to them personally. This allows the hiring manager to put a face to the name. It is recommended that you dress professionally and present yourself well.
  • Online: Online applications vary-some may ask you to fill in fields, while others may require that you attach PDFs of your cover letter and resume. Some companies request that you email your materials to their Human Resources department. It is important to follow directions-if they ask that you send your resume in the body of the email, do not send an attachment!
  • By mail: If requested, be sure to include the name of the hiring or Human Resource manager on all correspondence. Ensure that you have the proper postage for the weight of your application packet.


Checking on the status of your application shows your interest in the position and ensures that your application materials have made it to the appropriate person. If you call right away, it can seem demanding and off-putting. Follow these suggestions for reaching out:

  • Pay attention to the job “close date.” Most jobs posted online will have a posted closing date. Calling the hiring manager before this date can make you seem overly eager and desperate.
  • If there is no close date, a good rule of thumb is to make contact one week after application submission.
  • When you call or email the hiring or HR manager, try to make the tone of you communication friendly. Avoid demanding comments like, “I haven’t been contacted yet.” Instead, ask questions such as “Have any decisions been made yet?” or “Can you tell me a little more about the hiring time frame?” Asking if you might contact them again in one week, if no word has been given is a polite way to be proactive.

Rehearsing for a Job Interview

There are a lot of things that happen before you get to the interview portion of your job search. We have discussed many of them in this series of articles. Most people are able to put a lot of effort into getting the interview, but many fall apart during the actual interview. This could be due to poor planning and a lack of practice.

Instead of winging it, or relying solely on your professional skill set, you may want to stage a rehearsal for your next job interview. Start by enlisting a family member, friend, or partner to play the role of interviewer, and ask them to stay in character from start to finish. Set up a space, such as a desk or table to hold the practice session.

Below are some tips to make your interviews successful:

Do Your Homework

Learn all you can about the organization and the general safety industry in advance. Share this information with your mock interviewer. They can then use this information to ask tough questions.

Think Outside the Box

A little visualization can go a long way. You might want to think about a visual that really represents what you can do. For example, it could be a photo taken during a safety meeting you organized. If you do not have anything that symbolizes your capabilities, then try looking for a pattern that is not readily apparent in your resume, such as an interesting talent or interest that is separate from your official work history.

Review Safety Topics

You need to go into an interview prepared and able to answer every question that is asked. If you are looking for a job in safety, you will need to be able to speak about the main topics, such as: Fall protection, OSH training, personal protective equipment, accident investigation, and hazard identification.

Click here for a link to OSHAcademy courses to increase your safety knowledge before an interview.

Be Tough on Yourself

Research tough questions and provide them to your mock interviewer.

Here are some potential questions and topics to review:

  • Give me an overview of your last 10 years’ experience in safety.
  • Explain how a given workplace hazard and risk was removed or managed.
  • Are you a strategic or operational safety professional?
  • What are your safety qualifications?
  • What is your best personal quality?

Point out gaps in your skills or holes in your resume and instruct him/her to grill you on these points.

Stay Calm

Work on being relaxed before your interview. When you get to the site and are waiting to be called into the interview room, you might want to work on a brainteaser. Research shows this calms the nerves and takes your mind off the challenge ahead of you.

Day of Job Interview

Here are a few pointers to remember on the day of your interview:

  • Be sure to dress for the job you want. Clothes that make you feel good and confident can influence the way you carry yourself during the interview.
  • Plan to arrive at interviews 10-15 minutes ahead of time to allow for any traffic or public transportation issues. This will also give you a few minutes to compose yourself and review any notes you have brought with you. You may also want to visit the site before your interview to make sure you know how to get there.
  • You may want to bring a copy of your resume and references to hand to the interviewer before you start answering questions.
  • Show interest and enthusiasm at your interview. Being positive and speaking about the job in a knowledgeable way shows you did your research and can win you big points!
  • Refer to your notes. Ask your interviewer if you can take notes. Your notebook can also act as a “cheat-sheet” where you list accomplishments and highlight stories that demonstrate your abilities.

After an Interview

After the interview is complete, make sure you employ proper etiquette. Shake the interviewers hand and thank him/her for the opportunity. You should also follow up with a thank you note. This demonstrates good manners and leaves a lasting impression. Try to make the note substantive and mention what you were able to take away from the interview.