10 Tips: How To Interview

Research The Job

Not only should you know everything you can about the job you are applying for, but you should also do you research on both the industry and the company you want to work for. To research an individual company you can follow the steps below:

  • Read and participate on the Vault Message Boards for the company you are interested in.
  • Check the local papers for articles and information on the company.
  • Start a Google Alert to receive emails when new news shows up online for the company name and the specific location you are applying for.
  • Read the companies blog postings for the last few weeks.
  • Follow the company on Twitter, Facebook and any other social media platforms they use.

To research a particular industry you can check these resources:

  • Check industry associations for the company you are interviewing at. Here are two lists you may find useful: Wikipedia, Weddles.
  • Start a Google Alert for industry news.



You’ve gone through all the work of finding a job posting or company that you would like to work for, you have written  your resume, tailored your resume to this employment opportunity and done all your research for the job. You don’t want to mess the interview up by bumbling through it because you were unprepared.

Marketing yourself to other people is hard, so for most people “winging” it just wont cut it. You have to be comfortable and articulate when describing your accomplishments and prior work situations.

This is where practice comes in. Grab a partner and have them pretend to be an interviewer. You can give them a list of common interview questions like the ones listed on Have them pick questions at random to ask you. Also, use this list to come up with answers ahead of time and try them out in the mock interview to see how they flow in a person to person conversation. Make adjustments to your answers as necessary and repeat this mock  interview process with as many people as you can.

Another helpful practice technique would be to record yourself while performing these practice interviews. Recording your practice interview will help you to identify any nervous habits you have and will also make you aware of what your body language is telling the interviewer. If you find a negative habit, you will then be able to consciously work at fixing it.


Dress The Part

Show you are serious about getting the job by dressing to impress.  Arrive at the interview dressed as if this is one of the most important moments in your life because it is. One of the first things an interviewer will notice is your physical appearance.

Here are three excellent guides on how to dress for an interview:

  1. How to Dress for an Interview –
  2. Dressing for Interview Success  –
  3. Dressing for the Interview by Industry –


Bring Copies Of Your Resume And Portfolio

Bring not only your resume and portfolio but also copies of anything your interviewers are likely to ask for. If the interviewer has had you send them copies of forms that you have filled out, make sure that you have printed copies of those as well.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I was just out of college and on my first or second interview. The interviewer sent me several forms to print and fill out and bring to the interview. On the very last form I messed up and needed to make another copy. The problem was that I didn’t have a printer of my own at the time and it was too late for me to run somewhere before the interview and print a copy off. So I went to the interview without it.

The interview was going great until the very end when they asked for the forms. I explained what had happened but I could immediately see in the interviewers face that I was out of the running for the job because of that simple form. Lesson learned. Come prepared!


Ooze Enthusiasm

It is very important to show that you are enthusiastic about the job that you are applying for. You need to show that you have an interest in the job and that you have a true passion for what it is that you do. If the interviewer can’t see that you are passionate about your career, why would they believe that you will do the best job possible at their company?

It’s also important not to be so overly enthusiastic that you come across as disingenuous or putting on an act just to get the job. In my last job search, one of the reasons I was hired over the previous interviewee was that she was over-the-top enthusiastic and came across as disingenuous.


Talk In 60 to 90 Second Bullet Points

Have your 90 second introduction bullet points memorized so that you can comfortably talk about whatever it is your interviewer is asking to hear. You will want to limit the amount of time you talk to about 60 to 90 seconds. This is the average time span that a listener will pay attention to what you are saying. If you go over 90 seconds you may lose your audience.

Also create and memorize these 60 to 90 second bullet points for each common question  asked in an interview. Each one should be about 150 to 230 words long.


Take Notes

Taking notes when the interviewer is talking shows that you have a real interest in what they are saying. Writing down notes will also help you to keep track of what is really important to the interviewer and what job skills are the most vital.  You don’t have to write down everything they say but make sure to note the important things.

You can also use these notes to help determine what 90 second bullet points to talk about when you are asked a question during the interview.


Ask Questions

Use the notes you took earlier to determine what questions you will ask. Stay away from questions about money, benefits or time off. Stick to the topics that interest your interviewer. If they have brought up a particular tool that will be used in your new job, make sure to ask a question about it when the time is appropriate. Also, make a note of anything that the interviewer brings up more than once so you can address it when you are asked if you have any questions.

Here are some sample questions to ask your interviewer:

  • What is  leadership style of the person I will be working for?
  • What type of employee is successful at this company and what type of employee is not successful?
  • Do you have a timeline for making a decision on this position and when should I get back in touch with you?
  • Considering how rough the economy is, why did you decide to hire somebody for this position? What about this position gave it priority  over other possible positions?
  • What will have to happen over the next year to make this company successful and how can I help achieve that success in this position?
  • What is the performance review process like and how do I make the most of my reviews to ensure that I’m doing the best job possible for the company? 
  • What would the perfect candidate for this position look like? How do my skill sets and experience do in comparison to the perfect candidate?
  • What is the top thing I can do to make your job easier?
  • Can you see any reason why I am not the perfect candidate to fill this position? 


Don’t Apologize For Your Lack Of Experience

It’s okay if you do not know the answer to an interview question. However, do not apologize  for not having experience in a particular area or for not knowing the answer to a particular question. Apologizing makes you look unprofessional.

Here are a few tips for when an interviewer asks a question you don’t know the answer to or when they ask about an area that you lack experience in:


  • Don’t panic.
  • Don’t make excuses.
  • Don’t let anxiety get the better of you.
  • Don’t ramble or stare blankly.


  • Do remain calm.
  • Do maintain your confidence.
  • Do ask for clarification if you need it.
  • Do be honest.
  • Do turn the situation to a positive one.


Close With A Bang

At the end of the interview you want to leave the interviewer with a positive, lasting impression. One way to do this is to close with a question that shows you’re already working for the company. This sample question came from Alison Green at the Ask A Manager blog:

“Thinking back to people who have been in this position previously, what differentiated the ones who were good from the ones who were really great?”

The idea behind a question such as this is to leave the interviewer with the realization that you really care about doing a great job for the company.


Need More Help?

If you still feel that you need more help with your interviewing skills or preparation, I have found two products that you may find useful.

The first tool is an interview preparation application called Jobjuice Strategy & Consulting app. It is designed for MBA and Business professionals looking to hone their interviewing skills. It is available from iTunes for the iPhone, iPod and iPad. Inside the application are over 80 easy-to-use cards filled with concepts and frameworks. The same company also makes a Marketing app to help marketing professionals.

The second tool is an ebook published by Job Interview Answers. This ebook is 81 pages and details what you need to know to succeed in your interviews. The ebook was published in 2011 and can be downloaded instantly from their website. When you get to their website, check out the product reviews to see if this is what you are looking for.

About the Author

Rick Biederer is the owner and operator of

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