Wednesday, October 16, 2013

16 tips to rocking your job interview

Five of my close New York friends are currently interviewing for new jobs right now, so I've been emailing tips and mock interviewing the past couple of weeks. Until this year, I didn't really have much experience interviewing. I had received a full-time offer after my junior year college internship at L'Oreal, so I was out of practice until Amazon/Quidsi reached out on Linkedin three years later. (That led to 5 interviews, which then led to an offer). Anyway, I wanted to share some advice that I've accumulated from very smart people in my life and through personal experience. Here are 16 tips to rocking a job interview...

The First 11 Basic Rules: These rules are tweaked by me but originated from Josh Golden, CMO of Story Worldwide, a millennial in a Gen X body and a great advice giver. (Thanks Josh!)
  1. Dress appropriately -- either plus one over the interview if it's a corporate job, or reflective of the company's culture if it's a start-up (i.e. don't come in wearing a suit if everyone wears jeans).
  2. The interview starts before you arrive. Be nice to everyone and turn off your cell phone.
  3. Bring multiple copies of your résumé, which should be customized to reflect the job you're applying for.
  4. Rehearse your interview with someone. You'll be surprised by how often you say "um".
  5. Do your research. Seriously... research voraciously.
  6. Write down 3 things you remembered from the interview. Take notes during or immediately after so you can reference some nice details in your thank you note.
  7. Thank you note within 24 hours. Under 3 hours is too short. Over 24 hours, not interested enough.
  8. Have 3-5 questions ready. More on that below.
  9. Stalk them beforehand (on Linkedin). Not knowing who you'll be talking to is just irresponsible. You don't need to share this info with your interviewer, but being prepared is always a plus.
  10. If it feels right, ask what next steps should be
  11. Follow up within 2 weeks with an appropriate email that highlights something you read or is related to what you talked about during the interview. This shows that you keep up with industry news and that you're on the same page as your interviewer.
The Next 5 Rules to Raise The Bar: These are my gold stars that will take you from standard to exceptional.
  1. Be an Active Listener. Never interrupt. Actively listen, then answer questions without a 5 minute long prelude. Don't ramble so much that you forget the question they asked in the first place.
  2. Be positive and additive. Why would you ever complain about your current role? Even if the complaints are warranted, the negativity will cling to you. Suddenly, you're a Debbie Downer with a sense of entitlement. Also be careful when giving feedback on the company you're interviewing for, because you are probably about to critique something your interviewer directly works on. Be additive, not negative. 
  3. Have your 5 good stories. Learn them so well that you can fit them into any question coming your way.
  4. Use the STAR methodology. Before the interview, take out a piece of paper and split the page into: Situation, Task, Action, and Results. Now write down your 5 stories, find the STAR in them, and practice your narrative.
  5. Make your questions count. Don't be redundant and ask a question that your interviewer already addressed. Here are a few general favorites:
    • What's your background and how did you end up here at X?
    • What are some of your key challenges in your career and how did you overcome them?
    • What’s your favorite part about your job?
    • What kind of challenges is the business facing and how can I help?
    • What type of skills and characteristics will help a person in this role thrive and succeed?
    • What are your key priorities/projects for this year?
Any other tips to add to the list? Hope this helps, and best of luck on your interviews! I'm here to mock interview you, if you need me. :)


  1. Love this! People constantly told me to wear a suit to my interviews, but I'm a young creative person. Suits felt stifling. I switched it up by wearing a bright pink shift dress over a pinstripe blouse and felt so fabulous. Everyone remembered me by what I said, but my clothes definitely helped define my personality and my work style!


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