Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Tips and Tricks for Interviewing

I was very happy to announce last week that I had started a new job. As thrilling as that is to be able to say, it was six months of hard work. Work along the lines of research, emails, phone calls, letter writing, resume fixing, preparing, meetings, interviews, and many sleepless nights. I'm not the best at writing or selling myself for that matter, but one thing I am good at is interviewing. I am a nervous wreck prior to interviews and don't sleep well at all, but when it comes down to it I can magically put my game face on and answer questions like a boss (why can't I always be like that is beyond me). I have yet to interview where I did not get some sort of kudos at the interview for my stellar performance, or in a follow up call/email. Seriously. So I wanted to share with you my tips and tricks that I have been using over the past few months of interviewing that I wish someone would have shared with me.

Before the Interview

Congratulations! You made it past the initial phone screening, and now you are on your way to a face to face interview. First and foremost: do your homework. You should know about the company, be able to talk about what they do, and talk about timely relevant information. Check the company blogs, media clips, and social media channels if applicable. Use resources like Glassdoor to get a deeper dive into the company culture. You most likely will be told who you will be interviewing with prior to coming in. Look that person/people up on LinkedIn. Find out what they do, their background, and their affiliations. You can use in this information as talking points, conversation starters, and also to show how you prepare and research topics. 

Prepare yourself for commonly asked questions, and memorize at least five questions you can ask your interviewer. Almost all interviews at some point will ask the typical behavioral questions, so make sure you think about answers to those questions. If you're not sure what they could ask, do a google search of commonly asked interview questions. Conversely, there's nothing worse in an interview when a candidate has nothing to ask at the end, it looks like you are disinterested when in reality you should be trying to get as much information as possible. Do yourself a favor, and familiarize yourself with universal question that can be applied to all your interviews.

Common Behavioral Questions:

Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult coworker/client/manager.
What would you say is your greatest weakness?
What are things you don't like to do in your current position?
Why are you looking to leave your current job?
What interests you about a career at (insert company name)?

Questions I ALWAYS Ask My Interviewer:

What about my background and qualifications make you think I could be a good fit for this position?
What do you like most about working here?
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing the person coming into this role?
How is success measured in this position, and at the company?
Are there opportunities for professional development and additional training?
What are the next steps in the hiring process?

During the Interview

Arrive 15 minutes prior to your scheduled time. The old adage is true: "If you are early you are on time. If you are on time you are late. And if you are late don't even bother." Your interviewer still has work to do and most likely will not be ready to receive you too much before your scheduled time, so do them a favor and cool your jets. If you happen to get there really early hang out in your car, a nearby coffee shop, or the building lobby. Just make sure you are checked in prior to your start time. You are being judged before they meet you, remember that.

Shake hands with each person interviewing you and look them in the eye when doing so. I know this can be uncomfortable for some, but it really starts your interview off on the right foot. Be confident, they brought you in for a reason. Then proceed with the interview at the interviewer's pace. Be thoughtful in your answers, and genuine. Make sure you answer questions thoroughly and to the best of your knowledge, especially if it's something that can be checked. Lies are never a good idea. They will always ask you if you have questions for them once they are done interviewing them. This is the time to ask the questions you have prepared. Then thank them for their time and be on your way.

After the Interview

I cannot stress this last step enough. ALWAYS follow up with a thank you email to each person you met with. Email is quick, makes sure it gets to the right person, and effective. Don't just use a template you find online either. Make it personal, and touch on points that were discussed in your interview. This makes your note personal and shows your interviewer you are interested. If you interview with multiple people, make sure each note is different. On the rare chance they compare, you don't want them to find a canned thank you that you send to everyone. If you did not get cards from the interviewers, email their HR department and ask for the emails or if they would forward them on your behalf. Below are two examples of thank you notes I send out, feel free to use them. 

Example 1

Dear Interviewer,

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me about the insert job title with Company X. It was a pleasure speaking with you and your team, and I truly enjoyed learning more about the role and the company. After our discussion, I am confident that my skills and experience are a great match for this opportunity and that I can quickly become a valuable member of the Company X team. 

I am very enthusiastic about the possibility of a career with Company X, and look forward to hearing back from the hiring manager about the next step in the process. Thanks again.


Your Name

Example 2

Dear Interviewer,

Thank you for taking the time to meet with me today. After speaking with you and your team and learning more about the job title position, I am even more enthusiastic about the possibility of working at Company X. I particularly enjoyed hearing about insert specific example of something discussed during your interview.

If I can provide you with any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Have a great weekend.


Your Name

And there you have it, the steps to crushing your interview. It seems like a lot, but with a little time and preparation you can be confident in all stages of the hiring process. I've been through my share of let downs with jobs (final rounds with two companies and weeks of interviews only to be passed over for internal candidates), to making the choice to turn down offers because they didn't feel right. Always listen to your gut. It is the hiring managers job to make positions look appealing, but if you get a bad feeling in an interview address it and walk away if you need to. 

I'd love to know if you have any can't fail tips for the interview process. Also, if you have other questions about interviewing or job hunting feel free to send them my way. I would be happy to help out!


  1. These are really great tips and CONGRATS!!!!!! I wish I had seen this post a few months ago! I just got hired for a new job, too :)

  2. Congrats!! I want to hear all about the new job! In the meantime, these are timely tips for me :)

  3. Congrats!
    That's one awesome post, I'm thinking of the job change and it's been a looong tome since I've got interviewed so I'll definitely need this to refresh my memory)



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