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Interview Tips

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smiling woman and man in business attire, meeting over coffee, about to shake hands

After many years in the Recruiting business, our specialists really have seen it all in interviews.  There are many factors affecting the final hire.  While candidates can’t influence the job’s required skills or experience level, there is a great deal they can affect. Based on our experience, we offer the following interview tips and suggestions aimed at helping applicants to put their best foot forward during the interview.

Show Initiative

Learn about the company, the products, industry, market etc., before you arrive  One of the goals of the interview is to find out what you will contribute to the organization and how you will fit with them.  When the interview is being set up, feel free to ask if they have any company information, such as a website, brochure, annual report, extended job description or company background publication.

Make a strong and professional first impression

When applying for the position, and when you arrive for the interview, give them a sense of your professionalism.  Dress as you would on the first day on the job.  If you get the impression that it’s a casual environment, wait until you get the job to dress down.  Arrive ten minutes early for the interview and wait patiently if they are late starting. Make sure you are calm – give yourself enough time to get there and make sure your mind is on the interview, not the parking meter.  Shake hands with the interviewer(s) and make eye contact during the interview.

Stay Positive

Focus on your past accomplishments.  Talk about what you enjoyed about your previous position.  Discuss your wish for new challenges.  If an interview question explores what made you leave your last position, rather than making negative remarks about your previous employer, focus on what goals, challenges, priorities etc. you are seeking in this new position.

Prepare Several Interview Questions

Your roles in an interview are to market your skills and to interview the company.  Timely, appropriate questions not only provide you with valuable information about the company, but also help create a positive, conversational atmosphere between the two parties.   Here are some good questions for you to have ready for the asking:

  1. What are the common denominators of successful people in this company?
  2. What characteristics are unique about this company?
  3. What outside influences affect the company’s growth?
  4. What are the short and long-range company objectives?
  5. In what areas does this company excel?
  6. How can I contribute to the department and contribute to overall company goals?
  7. What is the organizational structure of: a) this department? b) the company?
  8. How long was the last person in this position? What made this person successful?
  9. What would you add or subtract to the incumbent’s performance?
  10. What would you expect me to achieve during my first six months to a year?
  11. Why do you enjoy working here?
  12. What attracted you to this company?
  13. How do you think I could contribute most effectively now that you know more about me?


Fielding Questions

Questions commonly asked by Employers

  1. Tell me about yourself. (ask Where do you want me to start?)
  2. Why do you want to leave your present position? (possible answers challenge, location, advancement, money, prestige, security)
  3. What do you do best in your present position?
  4. What are your career goals? Long term / Short term?
  5. Why are you interested in this position?
  6. Do you think this position offers you the challenges you need?
  7. What are you looking for in a job?
  8. What can you do for our company?
  9. What distinguishes you from others in your field?
  10. What are your greatest strengths as a person?
  11. What are your greatest weaknesses or areas you want to improve?
  12. How would your boss or co-workers describe you?
  13. How do you: a) set priorities? b) organize your time? c) solve problems?
  14. How do you feel about relocation now or in the future?
  15. How do you feel about the commute?


** Tell me about yourself. One of the most difficult, yet most important interview questions.  In most interviews this is one of the first questions. Therefore- it is crucial to have a well thought-out answer.  Being well prepared for this question at the beginning makes a substantial and positive first impression, and gives a clear indication of your interest in making a career move.  We suggest that you answer this question in three parts:

  • First summarize your career in a sentence or two.
  • Tell of a special accomplishment that can be easily explained (1-3 sentences).
  • Finally, explain what you want to do in the next step of your career.


For Example: I am a five year veteran of Business Development specifically focusing in the mass market channels.  As a new employee for ABC Company I was successful in opening up and placing product into Walmart and one year later was able to double the number of SKUs.  I accomplished this by working closely with the VP Merchandising at Wamart as well as the marketing team at my company.  I also accomplished similar results at Target and Costco.  For the next step in my career, I would like the opportunity to open up the mass market channel while training and mentoring sales reps in working with national accounts.


Salary and Benefits

Do not bring up the subject of salary or benefits.

  1. Initiating a discussion on salary/benefits identifies you as one that is motivated only by money.
  2. On the company’s employment application, do not leave the section for desired salary blank (write in negotiable or open).
  3. If the employer asks what you are currently earning be honest and specific.
  4. If the employer asks what your salary requirements are, your response should be, “I currently earn $_____ and I would expect a fair offer.


Closing the Interview

It is important that you leave the interview expressing enthusiasm about the position as well as uncovering any doubts that the interviewer may have about you as a viable candidate for the position.  Shown below is the correct way to close an interview.

Applicant: I am very interested in this position. Now that we have met, what reservations or questions do you have about my qualifications or ability to do the job?

After asking the question, it is necessary to be patient and wait for an answer.  The interviewer’s response may be all that stands between you and the position that you desire.  If the interviewer’s response is “None” (this is your opportunity to separate yourself from the crowd) ASK FOR THE JOB eg: “When can I start?” or “Great, what else do you need from me to move forward to the next step?”  Remember the last impression is a lasting impression.

If the interviewer states a reservation, respond with a description of actual work experience you’ve had that allays the interviewer’s concern. Remember that when responding to any interview question, do not just answer yes or no.  Give a specific example and paint a brief verbal picture.

If you are interested in the position, tell them so.  If they offer the position to you, and you want it, accept it on the spot.  (If you wish time to think it over, be courteous and tactful in asking for that time.  Set a definite date when you can provide an answer. Do no create the impression that you are playing one company against the other to drive up the bidding).

Don’t be discouraged if no definite offer or specific salary is discussed.

Thank the interviewer for this/her time and consideration. If you have answered the two questions uppermost in their mind…

  1. Why are you interested in this company?
  2. What can you offer?

…then you have done all you can.

Follow Up

It is important for you to call us immediately to discuss the outcome of the interview.  We need to work together to move you to the next step, be that a subsequent interview or a job offer.

Send a follow-up email to the employer. This should consist of the following themes:

  1. Thank each person for their time.
  2. Express your confidence in doing the job.
  3. Three reasons why you can do the job.
  4. Express interest in pursuing the opportunity and look forward to hearing from them soon.


Last, but VERY importantly, be sure that you spell the company name and contact names correctly!