May 11th, 2021

TJ Kastning

Interviews are not all about getting the job.

It is about building relationships to see if you want to work with this person/team for the long run.

You do not want to ‘win’ every single interview because your values may not be aligned. Working for a company with different values than you is not fun. You want great mutual understanding and trust, even if that means they screen you out or you screen them out.

It’s not personal. These are huge decisions for you and prospective employers. Be honest, vulnerable, concise, thoughtful, and get to know your interviewers well. These meetings should arm you to make a decisive decision should they make you an offer.

1. Get great sleep the night before your interview. Being well-rested will give you excellent mental agility and emotional bandwidth. You will be highly capable of careful active listening and relate closely to your interviewers. You will be observant to notice details that resonate with your values or warn you of a poor fit.

2. Arrive early enough to be calm and focused. Consider travel methods that are not prone to delays. Showing up slightly before your interview is step one of succeeding in the interview. Canceling or being late is a common warning sign that the relationship will not work out. 

3. Review the website of the company to understand as much as you can.

4. Bring several copies of your resume. This is rarely necessary but always an impressive display of preparation and commitment.

5. Dress sharply one level above the normal business attire for the prospective business. For example, in a business casual office, you might wear slacks and a blazer where a suit may be overdoing it and tone-deaf to the office culture. Ties are uncommon on the west coast and common on the east coast.

6. Develop a list of questions about the ethos of the company and hiring authority to understand their perspective on management and vision for the company. A helpful tool for remembering your questions without referring to a large notepad of questions and interrupting the momentum of the conversation is to write concise prompts on a small piece of paper. 

7. Ask questions with genuine curiosity to understand their needs. “What problem will I be focused on solving?” Listen to understand and not to respond. Take your time thoughtfully responding to questions.

9. Greet with a firm handshake, a friendly smile, and an enthusiastic hello. Be excited, but not too excited. Pay attention to the energy in the room.

10. Avoid engaging in early compensation negotiation. The appropriate time for the negotiation is after the opportunity and your candidacy have been fully explored and the value is exciting to both parties. Negotiating too early causes uneducated value statements to be made about the relationship which is probably not true or healthy. Share your compensation information freely with the company and disarmingly tell them that “Right now I am really focused on understanding your company’s needs, the opportunity, and how I might benefit the team here. I am sure any offer you make will be competitive.” 

11. Consider how you will answer the question “Tell me about yourself”. This is a common opening question and its intent is to understand what you think is important. Share some details about your past and smoothly transition into storytelling your career in broad strokes, being mindful to highlight accomplishments. Conclude your career story by explaining what you found intriguing in their opportunity. A great follow-up question for you to ask after concluding your answer is “What else would you like to know?” 

12. Consider how you will answer the question “Why are you looking to make a change?”. This question seeks to understand your motivations and how those motivations will affect your future performance. Be positive. Explain all that you have learned in your role and where you want your career to go from here, hence your exploration of this opportunity. Help the interviewer see how your current role has prepared you to grow and how they can benefit from your skills and desire to grow more.

13. Ask what their ideal candidate needs to do to earn an excellent review. This will inform you of their expectations and signal to your interviewer that you care about your performance. Work to understand their expectations for success in this role.

14. If you enjoyed the meeting, tell the interviewers so and let them know you are looking forward to learning more in the next step. Ask them what they would like to do for the next step. Being proactive at this point greatly increases your chances of another interview because companies like to see people enthusiastic about their opportunities.

15. Note the names and emails of the interviewers so you can send a post-interview thank you letter or email. This is a classy step that shows simple gratitude and care.