InterviewingThis is probably the most intimidating part of the process, but we can improve your performance and eliminate some of the anxiety with some simple exercises and practice.

Practice and Prep Work

  • Make sure you have done your homework. Know what the company does. Browsing the company website is not enough. How is the organization regarded? Have they been in the news lately? Is there someone you can talk to who can provide useful background info?
  • Find out as much as you can about what the company values. Are they environmentally friendly? Are they politically conscious? Do they have legal or employment issues? What does the composition of the leadership team say about them?  Make sure this all holds up with your own set of values.
  • Know the name of your interviewer and how to pronounce it. Know what your interviewer does for the company. Don’t come in knowing the names and ages of their kids (creepy) but have enough background info to ask meaningful questions.
  • Work to get an understanding of your interviewer’s responsibilities and their own career track. You will further the dialogue, and you will continue to gain insight into the company.
  • Anticipate questions you might be asked – why do you want to work for this organization? What draws you to this position? Strengths, weaknesses etc.
  • Practice your answers to these questions. Don’t just think about them, jot stuff down and say it out loud. The more you say it out loud, the more comfortable you will be with your answers.
  • Know your resume and know it well. Be prepared to talk about everything you have written down.

Basic Interview Conduct

  • Turn off your cell phone, even if you’re expecting a call. If the circumstances are extreme or unusual, let the interviewer know ahead of time.
  • Relax. Anxiety is easy to detect and can lead to fidgeting. The more relaxed you seem, the more relaxed they’ll be.
  • Arrive early. Factor in transportation time, building security, last minute bathroom stops, crowded elevators.
  • Dress appropriately. When in doubt, err on the conservative side.  Whatever you wear, it should be clean and neat. No gym shorts, food stains, or cleavage. While your skills and experience are obviously more important than your appearance, you don’t want to be remembered for what you were wearing.
  • No man hugs, no kisses.
  • Understand the importance of the situation and speak in a professional manner. F-bombs are not welcome. Avoid “like”, “you know”, “kinda”, “sorta.”
  • Be confident in the skills you bring to the table and be crisp in your responses. Don’t resort to word crutches (the ums and uhs). Better to compose yourself and answer well than blurt out an ill-advised response.
  • As much as you can, direct the conversation back to the strengths you highlight on your resume.
  • A question is not an opening for a monologue. Your answers should be concise, direct, and articulate.
  • Come with questions of your own. Your questions should be nuanced and should indicate that you have done your research.
  • Assess the interview as they assess you. You want to make sure the organization you choose (and that chooses you) is a good fit for your personality, your goals and your values. Be aware of how they treat others, how they make you feel welcome, how they appear.
  • Thank your interviewer for his/her time. If you are excited and interested in the position, say so. Be sure to get a business card from the interviewer.

Immediate Follow Up

  • Always follow up after an interview via email. Thank your interviewer and specifically reference something you enjoyed talking or learning about. Ask about next steps.
  • Even if you didn’t come away with what you wanted, follow up and say thank you. See First Principles.
  • If you are offered a job, say thank you and start the negotiation process
  • If you are not offered a position, don’t hesitate to ask for feedback and advice for future interviews. Learn from this experience.

Do This

  • Do your homework. Do this before anything else. Make sure you have a solid understanding of what the company does, what differentiates it from its competitors, and how the position you’re applying to relates to the company’s overall mission.
  • Next, practice answering common interview questions. Look at these “most common interview questions” and jot down answers to each one. Then practice saying these answers out loud (even better if it’s with another person). Do this multiple times, until you really feel comfortable speaking about yourself and your work experiences.
  • You might not get asked these exact questions, but that foundational prep work will allow you to pivot when necessary and adapt the answers you practiced to fit a variety of questions.
  • You don’t want to sound robotic or rehearsed, but having quality answers at the ready indicates that you’ve put thought into your prep work and take the process seriously.