Top 10 Tips for Acing the Interview

Woman-suit-by-elevator-300x300I spoke for the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) Career Day on May 7.

I was asked to present the content of my Acing the Interview talk in a 45-minute session. I often teach this content as an interactive two-hour workshop, so I distilled the content down to the most important points. It’s the ultimate cheat sheet.

Top 10 Tips for Acing the Interview

Tip 1: Get Comfortable Selling Yourself and Your Value

Welcome to Sales 101

  • If you don’t tell your story, nobody else will
  • We are taught from a young age not to brag or call attention to ourselves

Tip 2: Understand the Different Types of Interviews

There are several different kinds of interviews

  • Initial screening interview or “check the box”
  • HR interview – screening out OR selling you on the company
  • Interview with hiring manager
  • Interview with colleague / collaborator
  • Panel interview
  • Video interview
  • Presentation interview
  • Executive interview

Tip 3: Understand the Different Types of Conversations

Adjust your responses to the way the questions are asked

  • Short questions = short answers
  • Longer questions = longer answers with stories to back up your points 

Tip 4: Have the Right Mindset

It’s all about fit – on BOTH sides

  • You are interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you
  • Feel confident about your best skills
  • Understand the value that you will bring to the organization
  • Be interested, but not attached to the outcome
  • Remember that your only goal for that conversation is to get to the next step

Tip 5: Prepare Responses for the Expected Questions

PRACTICE your answers to these questions

  • Can you tell me a little about yourself?
  • Can you tell me about your last position?
  • Why did you leave your last position? (Why are you looking for a new position?)
  • What are you looking for in your next position?
  • What do you feel is your biggest strength?
  • What do you feel is your biggest weakness?
  • Can you give me an example of something you are particularly proud of?
  • There are a lot of qualified candidates, why should we pick you?

Tip 6: Know Your Stories and Metrics

Behavioral questions are easier to answer if you have practiced these stories

  • A success story from your most recent position
  • A story where something was going wrong and you turned it around
  • A story about your biggest professional achievement (can be from any time in your career)
  • A story illustrating your biggest strength
  • A story illustrating your biggest weakness

Tip 7: Avoid the Thin Ice

Saying less is always best

  • Don’t badmouth a former boss or employer
  • Practice uncomfortable answers, e.g., you were fired, you quit, your boss didn’t like you, etc.
  • Don’t overshare personal information (kids, health issues, going through a divorce, elder care)

Tip 8: Be Thrilled When Interviews Become Conversations

The best interviews go off topic

  • If you didn’t talk too much about your background, that can be a good thing
  • If you connected on some topic separate from the job/company, that can be a good thing

Tip 9: Have Questions for Them

Always have a few questions prepared in advance

  • Can you share what the interview process is like for this position?
  • What are the key skills required for this position?
  • What are your biggest priorities?
  • What does a day in the life of this position look like? How would I be spending my time?
  • What are your immediate challenges?
  • What is the company’s near-term strategy and vision?
  • What are the company’s strategies for growth?
  • Do you have any doubts about my ability or qualifications to do this job well 

Tip 10: Make a Great Impression

Be Professional and Confident

  • Dress professionally and comfortably
  • Don’t fidget, play with your hair, or ramble on and on
  • Breathe! Relax, slow down your speech, and enjoy the conversation


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