So, let’s get to it.
When preparing for an interview, cover all the bases and be thorough.
Do Your Research
Get to know the company you’re interviewing with.
Spend some time on their website.
Understand the company’s mission.
Research your potential manager and colleagues backgrounds.
Where did they work before hand, and what did they do?
What is their target demographic?
Prepare To Pitch Yourself
Example of how this would play out in an actual interview:
“Tell me about a time you worked on a complex project from a demanding client which involved needing multiple deliverables to be met in a short amount of time and how you handled it?”
“Great question. It’s similar to a project that I worked on at my last company; one of our clients that we recently signed on and had no prior history with asked us to deliver several large-scale app development requests that needed to be delivered in less than four weeks.
This particular project had 3 distinct deliverables which they had committed to their own clients . Knowing that this was due in a short amount of time, I scheduled an all-hands-on-deck meeting with cross-functional teams and outlined the importance of this project and the future business it could potentially bring us. After getting buy-in from each team, I gathered thorough requirements from the client and created clear and concise specs for each of the teams involved on this project.
Not only were we able to deliver all three projects on time, but we delivered them two days before their product release, giving them enough time to review the work and make some minor changes. The success of this project ultimately led to our client viewing us as a trusted partner rather than just a vendor. Thus resulting in over $750,000 in additional project work.”
Can you see how knowing your accomplishments helps you answer complex questions?
If you take just one tip from this entire guide…
Get interviewer(s) talking about themselves and practice active listening.
Be Honest and Authentic
Tell Your Story
4 Powerful Interview Hacks
Let’s start with 4 powerful hacks to help you crush any interview.
Interview Hack #1: ALWAYS start with this question
Thank you for taking the time to meet with me (name). I’m excited to get started and learn more about your (company) and this position to see if I can add value. Before we get started… I’m just curious to know, what was it about my resume or background that made you decide to speak with me?
Why would you ask this?
Their answer to this question gives you a cheatsheet for the rest of the interview. They tell you what they like about you or your background. So you what to focus on throughout the entire interview. And you know what to avoid talking about, as well!
Interview Hack #2: Get rid of your nerves and angst
This one is simple, yet easy to forget. If you usually get nervous during interviews… Remind yourself you already have the interview.
They are speaking with you for a reason. They are bringing you in for a reason. They are taking time out of their day to meet with you. They wouldn’t be using up their time if they didn’t feel at some level, you’re capable of doing this job.
Most people make the mistake of bragging during their interview. They’re trying to prove they belong, and that’s a mistake. Focus on uncovering their challenges. Then describe how you’re going to add value. Do NOT desperately sell them on you. There is a distinct difference.
Here’s a 90 second exercise to get you calm before each interview:
Interview Hack #3: All interviewers (secretly) want to feel special!
How did you get to where you are in your career?What are you most proud of during your time at (company)?What is the one thing you would change about this company if you could?What advice would you give to your younger self if you were joining this company?In your opinion, what do you feel are our biggest competitive advantages and disadvantages relative to our competitors?
Interview Hack #4: ALWAYS ask this question to end
Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me and for providing more light on the position as well as telling me more about yourself. Before we wrap up, I want to ask: Is there anything about my experience, or any of my answers that concerns you about my ability to perform this job at a high-level, or to move onto the next round of the interview process? If so, I’d love the opportunity to clarify or confirm any of your hesitations.
Powerful Interview Questions
Here are 105 smart questions you can use to prepare for an interview. Don’t ask them all. Choose 5 that you think will give you the most insight, while presenting yourself in the best light. Then, in the actual interview, only ask any that flow into your conversation. Make sure you’re connected to the questions you choose, and know why you’re asking them.
Questions About The Job:
Who would be my immediate supervisor in this position?
Can you give me an example of how I would collaborate with my manager or
Why is this position open?
How long has this position been open?
How many people have held this job in the last two years?
How long does someone typically stay in this job?
What avenues are available within the company to move up from this position?
What can you tell me about the position that isn’t in the job description?
What should my number one priority be coming into this role?
Can you show me examples of the types of projects I would be working on?
What are the most important skills to have to do well in this job?
When and how is feedback given to me?
How will I be trained?
Will I have a mentor?
Will I be leading or managing anyone?
Can you tell me about their strengths and weaknesses?
What is the last person who had this job doing right now?
Where have successful employees in this position progressed to?
What is the process for formal performance reviews? How often are they
conducted, and who contributes to them?
Has anyone failed in this position? Why?
How will you judge my success? What will need to happen in the first six months for me to know I have met your expectations?
With whom will I be working most closely or most often in this job?
How does upper management view the role and importance of this position?
As far as the people who have been in this position, what are some of the things that set the top performers apart from the good or average performers?
What are the most important things for you to find in a candidate?
What can you tell me about the 6 – 12 month outlook of this position, and where you see it going?
What tasks are really going to define success for me in this position?
How would I know if I’m succeeding month to month?
What’s the toughest part about this job?
Will the work be similar most days, or will there be variety from day to day?
What will the typical day look like in this position?
Do you expect the main responsibilities for this role to change in the next six months to one year?
What improvements or changes do you hope a new candidate can bring to this position?
What do you think are the most rewarding or gratifying aspects of this position?
What personality traits would help someone perform well in this role?
Would you like me to do anything differently than the previous people who have held this job? If so, what?
What about my background interested you for this position?
What are a couple things I could do to become a top contributor in the organization?
How much of an opportunity will I have for decision-making when I start this role?
How much interaction with clients or customers will I have?
What types of strategic decisions will I be able to make without getting approval from my manager?
Will I have the opportunity to work with any cutting-edge tools, technologies or methods?
What can you tell me about this organization that isn’t widely known?
Where do you see the company in three years, and how would I contribute to that if I’m hired?
Are there issues facing the company that I could contribute to solving?
How would you describe the company culture?
Does the company have any traditions you enjoy?
What’s the most unique thing about being a part of this company?
What steps do you take to keep employees motivated?
What are some reasons people like working here?
How many people joined your company last year?
How is your turnover, and what are you doing to improve it?
Why do you think people leave the company?
Have you cut headcount or had any layoffs in the past two years?
How has the company changed since you’ve joined?
What would you say is the most important aspect of the company culture?
Who are the company’s typical customers, and why do they choose you?
What are the company’s strengths and weaknesses compared to its competition?
Who is your biggest competitor, and what is one key difference I should know?
How does the company attract sales or develop client relationships?
What excites you the most about the company’s future?
What new company changes or developments have been announced recently?
How do you encourage your employees to stay current with professional developments in the field?
Can you describe the company’s overall management style and the type of person
that usually does well here?
How do you ensure the salary of long term employees stays competitive with the
How are raises typically handled, and what is the standard timeline for increases in salary?
How does the company view creativity and individuality?
If you could change one thing about the company, what would it be?
Would you say that management is open to ideas and suggestions?
Questions About The Team:
Are there any ways in which this team’s culture differs from the company culture?
How much power do individual teams have when it comes to selecting which technologies and methods to use for certain projects?
How are your teams structured?
How often will my team meet as a group?
Is the work on this team more collaborative or independent?
What types of team events do you participate in?
Does anyone on the team ever get together outside of the office?
Do you ever do joint events with other teams or departments in the company?
What tools does the team use to communicate each day?
How many people are in this group/department?
Do you expect to do more hiring in this group in the next six months?
Which other teams work most closely with this one?
Are there any skills missing on the current team that you’re hoping to fill with a new hire?
What is the average tenure of the current team?
How does upper management view this group’s function and importance in the organization?
In what area could this team use some improvement?
What current goals is the company focused on, and how does this team support them?
Is my boss’ performance evaluated based on how well they develop the talent and skills of the team?
Can I meet more of the team I’d be working with?
What are some of the group’s greatest recent success stories?
How do you ensure that each team member is doing quality work?
Questions About The Interviewer:
How long have you been with the company, and what made you decide to come here?
What’s your favorite part about working here?
Has your role changed since you’ve been here?
What do you wish you had known before you joined the company?
What have you found to be the biggest challenge working here?
What has allowed you to succeed here?
How did you develop your career in this organization?
Do you feel someone entering the company today would have similar opportunities?
What excites you most about coming to work each day?
What are you most proud of during your time here?
Questions About The Hiring Process:
When do you expect to make an offer?
When are you hoping the person you hire will start?
How many people are interviewing for this job?
Who will make the final hiring decision?
What are the next steps in the interview process?
Who should I stay in touch with as things move forward?
How should I follow up?
When will I hear back from you?
Wrapping It Up
Reminder: Ask if anything from your conversation or background concerns them. This will reduce the risk that something prevents you from moving to the next step in the process.
This question also gives you the chance to address any issues head on. It shows the interviewer you are serious about getting hired. And always, always be sure to a “Thank You” email, and follow up.
After The Interview
It may not seem like it… but following up is essential. Send your thank you note within 48 hours.
- Reference the meeting.
- Mention something that intrigued or excited you.
- Give some ideas you have about topics brought up in the interview.
Send this initial note to the person who interviewed you.
If you don’t have their information, you can send it to whoever you have contact with.
Example of a Thank You Letter:
Great to meet you, (name)!
The time and insights you shared were very much appreciated. I’m even more excited about the opportunity to fill the Executive Assistant position.
I believe my ability to be resourceful, as well as my skills with PowerPoint and Excel would allow me to effectively contribute immediately. In addition, my experience working for a start-up and fortune 100 company, makes me confident that I will be able to easily adapt to the company culture and new environment.
I would enjoy the opportunity to continue our dialogue, and learn more about a career with (company).
Thanks and regards,
Then, Be Patient – Don’t go nuts if you haven’t heard back within two weeks. Hiring takes time. It could take up to a month, or even two, for the company to make their decision.
Remember that business doesn’t stop while they try to find someone to fill a position. That manager has their own duties to fulfill on top of hiring you.
If you haven’t heard back after that two-week mark, feel free to send a follow up e-mail.
Following up if there’s no response
The Email Subject Line
Follow up e-mail subject lines are very important. They determine whether your e-mail gets opened, and how fast.
Reply to the latest e-mail between the two of you and adjust the subject line to read:
Re: Interview on Thursday at 10 AM
Of course, insert the day and time you spoke. This has a great open rate because it appears as part of the previous conversation. This usually works much better than starting a whole new e-mail chain.
The Body Of Your Follow Up Email
Keep it simple and straight-forward, and don’t be shy or unclear. Tell them you’re excited about the opportunity, and wanted to check to see if there’s an update or a decision yet. Let them know if you have other companies presenting offers. This will help motivate them to make a decision.
You may well get a response that they still haven’t made a decision. If so, here’s an example of how you can reply:
“Thanks for the update. Do you have a sense of what the timing will look like moving forward? Or when an appropriate time would be for me to check back in? I’m excited about the opportunity, but I know these things take time, so I don’t want to follow up too often.”
And once again, be patient. You don’t know what’s happening over there. Someone could be out of town, or a huge project may be drawing focus. You won’t gain anything by following up further.
Didn’t Get the Job?
If you don’t get the results you want, use the relationship(s) you’ve built to get some feedback. Don’t get discouraged! Use this experience as a chance to grow and learn. The right job is out there, and sometimes it takes time to find it.
There are plenty of companies out there that can offer you exactly what you want. So don’t worry, keep pushing forward.
All it takes is one job offer to change the entire trajectory of your life!
About The Authors:
CareerSprout has helped 700+ people land $200k – $500k+ jobs
– doing something they love
– working for a company they admire
– setting themselves up for future growth