Congratulations, you landed an interview! Now you need to properly prepare for it!

First: The phone interview.

When you receive a call to interview by phone, be sure it is a good time for you. Try not to start interviewing if you’re in the car, or getting ready to have dinner. Tell the interviewer this is not a good time and reschedule. It is perfectly acceptable. You need to be prepared and have all your info in front of you.

Remember, the interviewer can’t see you! So, you must come across as enthusiastic, confident, and upbeat. Stand up, you’ll sound more confident and authoritative. Smile, it really does come across on the phone.

If you do well in the phone interview, and are asked to come in for a face-to-face, there are two questions you need to ask and write down:

  1. Who will I be interviewing with?
  2. What are his, hers, or their job titles?



  • Take the time to do research on the company you want to work for.
    • Print out the company bio
    • Print out the home page of the company Website
    • Once you have the details on who will be interviewing you, conduct research on them; print out their LinkedIn profiles and bring them to the interview
    • You will have more knowledge about them and they will be impressed!


This is a crucial aspect of the process and it’s also the area you need to impress on the most to proceed to the next step of the hiring process.

  • As you go into every interview, these are some of the questions you are going to need to remember your answers to, like you remember your own birthday!
    • Answers to the more commonly asked questions;
      • Tell me about yourself
      • Why should we hire you? You need to provide a compelling reason as to why they should hire you
      • What are your strongest competencies/skills?
      • Your weakness – better yet, how you overcame a weakness
      • What you want to bring to the company
      • Why you want to work there
      • What compensation you are seeking
    • In the preparation process, it is imperative that you rehearse your responses to those seven questions.
    • The more you prepare for the interview, the less likely you resort to using terms such as “um” and “ah”; these terms can kill your chances and make you appear unprepared.


  • Behavioral questions: they are going to come up, and it’s difficult to prepare for! They will predict how you will respond or behave on the job.

Possible Behavioral Questions to Prepare For

  • Tell me about how you worked effectively under pressure.
    • Recount a story. How did you handle it?
  • How do you handle a challenge? Give an example.
    • Head on. Recount a specific example
  • What was your last mistake? How did you handle it?
    • I try my best not to make mistakes but that doesn’t stop me from making them. Recount a misstate and how you corrected it
  • Give an example of how you set goals.
    • Think about how you set goals
  • Give an example of a goal you reached and tell me how you achieved it.
    • Recount a specific example
  • Describe a decision you made that wasn’t popular and how you handled implementing it.
    • Talk about a specific decision
  • Give an example of how you worked on a team.
    • Recount an example. They’re looking at team playing ability
  • What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
    • Recount an example. They’re looking at interpersonal skills
  • Share an example of how you could motivate employees or co-workers.
    • Recount an example. Do you possess motivational, skills?
  • How you handled a difficult situation?
    • Recount an example. Can you work under pressure?

Bring the following to the interview:

  • Copies of your resume (Several printable versions)
  • A list of references
  • The LinkedIn profiles of the people interviewing you
  • Company bio
  • Printout of their website
  • Your own set of questions for the interviewer(s) This may be the most important piece you bring. Create a list of questions to ask the interviewer when it is your turn. 

For example:

  • Why is the position open?
  • Who would I report to?
  • How will my performance be measured?
  • How often are performance reviews?
  • Can you provide a written job description?
  • What are the skills and competencies you would like to see in an ideal candidate?
  • How would you describe the culture here?
  • Can you describe the on-boarding process?
  • Will I have an opportunity to view my working environment?
  • Will I have an opportunity to meet my team members?


When the interview is scheduled, you need to come prepared. The best way to prepare is to rehearse your response to the following questions. Writing things down ahead of time helps you remember, so you will have these answers and responses to help you remember when the time comes. Remember, you can’t refer to any of your notes when you’re being interviewed.

The “tell me about yourself” question

I am from New York and graduated with a Master of Arts in Cinema Studies, from Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, New York, NY.  I am currently the administrator for Braxton on Film, a blog where I combine my love for motion pictures and my love for writing and I have been doing so for the past five years. When I am not blogging about movies, I am either working out at the gym, keeping busy at home, rooting for the New Orleans Saints, live-tweeting during my favorite shows and what I’m looking for in regard potential employment is simple: I want a job that not only provides stability but challenges me and gives me a sense of purpose. My strongest skills & competencies are writing, editing, blogging and working in a team environment to accomplish common goals. Although I am exploring many career options, your company, and this position specifically, intrigued me. I am very interested in this job!

Why Should They Hire You?

“I love movies! I always have since I was a child and I like to believe that I have something in common with two of my favorite filmmakers: Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino. No doubt, you’ve heard their names before and have familiarity with their respective bodies of work and the acclaim they have received for them. What makes Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino so awesome as filmmakers is that, despite what they have accomplished before, they take on new projects with the mindset of a student; someone who is still willing to learn, refine his/her craft and be better than what they were before. I like to believe that I am the same way. No matter what I’ve done before, I always want to learn, grow and be better than what I used to be. You should hire me because I am experienced and see myself as a willing and eager to learn, determined to excel and live up to my full potential and a position such as this, will allow me to reach that potential. I want to excel here and if I’m allowed to do that, you will not regret it.” I’m confident I can make a meaningful and sustained impact on the team at _________.

What Are Your Strengths?

  • Excellent writer
  • Pay attention to detail
  • Time management
  • Organizational
  • Effective communicator (written or oral)
  • Accustomed to working on deadlines
  • Ambitious
  • Team-player
  • Trustworthy
  • Focused
  • Quick-study
  • Leader who can take initiative
  • Creative
  • Adaptable/Flexible to any situation
  • Handle pressure well
  • Follow directions
  • Not afraid to ask for help
  • Not afraid to pitch in and help if/when asked
  • Problem solver
  • Strong sense of commitment
  • Believe in doing what’s right
  • Honesty
  • Responsible
  • High integrity
  • Able to multi-task

What Are Your Weaknesses? (Tell them a story of how you overcame a weakness)

“I can say that computers used to give me trouble. When I was a freshman in high school, I had to take an introduction to computers course and I struggled with it. I had to learn about how to utilize a computer in a way I never did, and I had little to no experience with using a computer to do homework or personal use leading up to high school and it was very rough, but looking back, what I did learn in that class resulted in the major stepping stone I needed to get where I am today. Today, I run my own film blog, I’m proficient with Microsoft Office, I use search engines like Google and Bing almost every day, I have a Twitter account with thousands of followers and a LinkedIn profile, also with several thousand followers, I’m starting to understand Google+ and how that works, I can schedule posts on my social media profiles using an app called Buffer, I can send emails, I created and designed my own website, I have experience with SEO. I can’t say that I’m an expert at computers but I’m proficient and experienced enough to get what you need.”

What Can You Bring to This Company?

“Enthusiasm and confidence, first and foremost! What I may lack in experience, I make up for in embracing the challenges that come before me and taking on those challenges head on. I pride myself on having a work ethic that is second to none and I don’t walk away from anything unfinished! I bring intelligence, a positive attitude, a strong understanding of words and a series of strengths that will make your workforce and your company stronger.”

  • Side note: Add how you can relate to this company. What is it about this job or this company that made you want to apply

Why Do You Want to Work Here?

“In all the jobs that I have applied for over the years, I apply for the positions that are a good fit for the skills I have. This is a position where I feel that I can be comfortable in and this is a company where I feel that I can grow, not only as a professional but as a person.”

  • Side note: Be sure to use the company bio and the job description to bolster your argument as to why you want to work where you want to work and don’t be afraid to reference your strengths again.

What Are Your Salary Expectations?

“Let me say that I am flexible regarding salary expectations and I am completely comfortable working within the salary structure of the company.

Additional Notes

  • Throughout the interview, it is imperative to maintain eye contact with the interviewer(s), smile and be engaging with the figures in the hiring process on a consistent basis.
  • Remember to emphasize your interest in the job and the interview and how you can relate to this position and this company.
  • When the interviewers are finished with their questions, THAT is when you are free to ask them questions (pull out your questions and now you’re interviewing them!)
  • When the interview is done, remember to follow-up (usually within a day or two) and send a thank-you note to the interviewers.

Thomas Wharton is President of LIFOCUS CAREER SERVICES an Executive Coaching and Career Coaching firm in Rhode Island, providing Career & Transition CoachingOutplacementExecutive Coaching, and Assessments. Tom can be reached at 401.884.7959 • • @careercoachTW

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