The opportunity to land a job at a company you admire and doing a job that you love doesn’t come around that often.
Unfortunately, most qualified candidates can’t seize this opportunity. They blow it. They make a common mistake. But they don’t get feedback. So they don’t actually know what mistake(s) they made.
Then they repeat those mistakes.
… they become discouraged and angry.
… they start to worry and stress.
… they settle for any job.
We don’t want this for you.
We designed this comprehensive interview guide for you. We’re going to give you psychological, behavioral, and tactical interview hacks. You can use this guide to prepare for and crush any interview you go on. So you can finally accept a job offer from a company you admire, doing a job that you love.
We’ve worked with thousands of candidates over our professional careers. We know that being an interviewee can be an intimidating and unnerving process. It shakes your confidence and gets in the way of your ability to present your best self.
How can we fight the nerves? With preparation and knowledge, that’s how.

So, let’s get to it.

Interview Preparation

When preparing for an interview, cover all the bases and be thorough.

Do Your Research

Interviews are about so much more than showing up on time, well dressed, with a resume.
  • 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?
The interviewer will ask you what you know about the company. If you don’t have a well-researched and thoughtful answer… The interview is over before you know it. You should also have an idea of what you can bring to the table and which gaps you can fill.

Prepare To Pitch Yourself  

A quick pitch or resume summary is also an important piece of the puzzle. Time is money, and for most busy interviewers, efficiency is key. Be brief and relevant. Always tailor your responses to fit the job you are interviewing for. Because your interviewer is assessing if you can add value and solve THEIR problems. Think how you can make their life easier and better with you on their team. (aka relate their problems to similar problems you have solved).

Step 1:

Study the job description. Review the responsibility section to understand what is being asked of this role. You can even check on LinkedIn. See if this company has other people performing a similar role to the one you are interviewing for. Read how they describe their job.

Step 2:

Review your past experiences and accomplishments. Create a list of relevant achievements that speak to what they’re looking for.

Step 3:

Read and re-read your list of accomplishments. Know them like the back of your hand.

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?”
You (knowing your accomplishments):
“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?

Even if you don’t have direct experience with some or all of what they are asking for… You can show them you know how to problem-solve. You can show you have a history of tallying up wins for companies.

Building Rapport

One of the most important things to do is make a connection with your interviewer. An interview should feel like you’re out to lunch with an old friend.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to get them talking, and ask questions about themselves. Examples include:
“When did you start working here?”
“How did you get to this position?”
“Any advice for your younger self?”
The big takeaway here: treat your interviewer like a friend. Because the interviewer is asking themselves 2 questions:
Question 1:
Can this person do the job?
Question 2: (more importantly)
Can I work with this person, literally, every single day for 8 to 10 hours?
If you feel like a friend and you show you’re qualified. The answers to both questions is an automatic YES!
Think of a time when you finished meeting up with a good friend.
You and your friend are catching up with each other. You asked them questions. They asked you questions. And you were both interested in each other.
You would have a great time. And you’d probably look forward to chatting again.
Now imagine…
You meet up with a different friend. They spend the entire time about themselves and didn’t ask you one single question.
How would you feel now?
Chances are, you didn’t enjoy it as much.
The same experience and outcome would apply on a date, as well.
No one likes it when they spend time with someone who only talks about themselves.
The same psychological principles apply to interviewers and interviewees (that’s you).
If you spend the entire interview robotically answering their questions… Then you likely won’t get to know them. And they won’t feel like they’re going to be working with a future trusted colleague or friend.
But if you ask a few questions about them, they are going to spend time talking about themselves. They’ll tell you more about what they’re hoping to find. They’ll show you if the company is a good fit for you.
And they are going to notice you took an active interest in them. Because you got them to talk about themselves, they are going to feel good.

If you take just one tip from this entire guide…

Get interviewer(s) talking about themselves and practice active listening.

Be Honest and Authentic

From there, honesty and confidence should be your two interviewing cornerstones. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t lie. No one interviewing you expects you to know everything.
Being honest and asking good questions shows that you have the capacity for growth. So show your excitement to learn something new! Then ask questions about the company and the position you’re interviewing for.
Building this rapport will allow you to ask for feedback on how you did, or for advice at the end of meeting. This is a great way to show your willingness to learn, and how much you genuinely care about doing well.

Tell Your Story

Your personal story is a major selling point and helps you to stand out. After all, you are the only you.
Take some time before your interview to plan out your story. Find the moments in your personal journey that changed you, both good and bad.
Share the emotions of these major events and tie them to the trajectory of your career. Did something propel you into this kind of work? Where do you want to end up?
A compelling and honest story goes a long way for interviews in any field. It may spark a memory or emotion in your interviewer. It builds connection and even a new ally.

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!

Although I mentioned this above, I can’t stress how important this is. As the saying goes,
“Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know about how much you care.”
You can ask interviewers a few questions to make them 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.

Benefit 1:

It gives you insight into knowing exactly what they like or dislike about you. Emphasize the things they like in your next interview rounds. And if they have concerns, you confirm or clarify them right there on the spot.
If you don’t ask this… Then you leave the interview not knowing about concerns. It’s very possible a small concern disqualifies you.
Plus, it’s the worst feeling to leave an interview knowing you could have done better. This gives you a second chance at any answers you flubbed.

Benefit 2:

It shows them that you seek (and handle) constructive criticism well. This is a high EQ quality. And it makes it far easier for someone to feel comfortable about working with you.

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
overall market?

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.

Always remember:

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

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