back to home »

Preparing for the Interview

What to bring?

Take a pad of paper and take notes, if you bring a pad and you don’t take notes, it comes across as if you have not found value in what they have said.

You can have as many notes in front of you as necessary.  It is also a good idea to bring a couple copies of your resume – this in case you are introduced to anyone else in an impromptu meeting.

Basic things to be aware of:

The sign of a great interview is when the interviewer is speaking 60-70% of the time and you are speaking 30-40%.

Never answer a question with just a Yes or No. If the answer to is a question is Yes, relate it back to an experience with a past employer…like Yes, I have used the software when I was with ABC company and we implemented the software to support our project management.

If the answer to a question is No…turn the no into an advantage for yourself. No, I have not had hands on experience with that process.  Ask for clarification - Can you tell me how you are currently handling or doing that process? The advantage is once they explain how they are doing something, you’ll have the chance to relate something in your past experience that might be similar to their need.

Companies hire candidates who they think can come in with the least amount of ramp up time and can quickly grasp the position. If you can show you have a history of experience with the skill or product, your chances are much better.

Preparation before the meeting:

Make a “Top Ten” list the night before the interview and develop at least 20 questions for the meeting. 

The Top Ten list is ten reasons you think you are a great candidate for the role. Also, write down 2-3 of the proudest accomplishments you feel you have done in your career.  This helps keep your story fresh and succinct.  You will not be scrambling to figure out what to say or seem unorganized or unprepared.

You need to know as much as possible about the company, position description and the main person they will be meeting with…make sure you have been to the website, you have reviewed the job description and have “googled” the Hiring Manager.  Read up on recent press releases and be sure you understand the company’s mission and history – including the key executives.

Starting the meeting:

Start with a firm handshake and make strong eye contact.  If possible, take initiative and engage the conversation.  Start with an easy observation such as –it is so easy to find your building, so how long have you worked here? Look for common ground – your ‘googling’ and researching the hiring manager might help here.  I see you went to xyz college – so did my... or I understand that you were previously with xyz company.  Did you work with so and so?

As the ice breaks and the meeting begins look for more common ground such as kids photos in the office, golf pictures, ask them about best course they ever played? Wow, your kids are adorable…something to help you link together…we are all way more connected than we are different…keep that in mind…

Here are some great Ice breaking questions…Personal connections are the best, but work related connections are very powerful too.

  • How long have you been with the company?
  • What initially attracted you to join?
  • What has been the most significant change in the organization since you have been joined?
  • How did it affect your position or group?

Additional questions to consider throughout the meeting:

1. What is the number one thing you will have me do after I start here to eleviate your immediate workload?

2. What are the 4 most important things this person will need to have to experience in to do the job the way you need it done?

3. What makes the people who are your top performers, successful?

4. What would I be expected to accomplish during my first 30, 60 and 90 days?

5. What is your organization’s projected growth in the next 2-5 years?

6. What personality traits best fit into your organization?

7. How will you personally evaluate my performance?

8. When this process is complete, what are the 2-3 key criteria that are going to drive your hiring decision?

9.  What are the key competencies of someone who will excel in this job?

10. What are the specific goals and objectives that you have set for your department/region/district/company during the next 12 months?

11. Based on your review of my background, what makes this assignment a great opportunity for me at this particular point in my career?

12. What are examples of the best results produced by people in this job?

13. What are the biggest problems facing this department over the next six months to a year?

14. What is the best or/toughest question I could ask you about this role? 

15. How would you answer it?

16. If you were my best friend, what would you tell me about this job that we haven't already discussed?

17. How would you rate yourself as a mentor and developer of talent?

18. Which individual in the department can I learn the most from?

19. If you were to prioritize the top three goals to stay ahead of competition, what would they be?

20. How do your goals this year differ from your goals last year? 

21. What do you personally see as the most challenging part of achieving these goals?

22. What would be the worst-case scenario if these goals weren’t achieved?

23. What are the challenges to improving your position in the marketplace?

24. From what you know about my qualifications, how do you think I will fit into your organization?

Closing the interview:

It is important that you convey your excitement and enthusiasm for the position at the end of the interview.  Show appreciation for their time and consideration. 

After you state your interest in the position, ask about the process and then say ‘I am ready to move forward, when do we take the next step?’ Or ‘What is the next step?’

If you feel it is appropriate, ask ‘how do you feel about me as a candidate for the role?’

This will likely identify any potential concerns or hesitations the hiring manager has about you.  You then have the chance to respond to those concerns.  This is tricky as you don’t want to put the hiring manager in an awkward position.

back to top