Want To Stand Out At A Job Interview?


Line up a partner who’s frank, candid, yet supportive and positive to do Mock Interviews!  For a meaningful experience have a specific line of work chosen.  Ask your partner for feedback on both what you say and how you say it.  Hint:  write down key points to refer to, but don’t aim just to memorize-speaking from the heart is more convincing!

  1. “Tell me about yourself.”  One tactic is to ask the employer which areas they are curious about.  Another method is to use this formula:
  • Thank the employer for asking you in.

  • Say, “As you know my name is_____(they actually may forget your name) and I am interested in the ___position.” (link your name with the position)

  • Summarize how your background fits this job.  (your training or job history)

  • Raise a point of interest (an achievement or a useful item to raise curiosity)

  • Ask, “Is there any of this you would like to hear more about?” (called “Giving the question back to the interviewer.” Asking this after your first couple of responses lets you judge the interviewer’s style and focus)

     2.   “How did you choose this line of work?”  This question is more than casual conversation. 

  • It’s an opportunity.  An employer wants to gauge your seriousness about the job, and whether you and this job might be a good fit.

     3.  “What is your understanding of this job?” 

  • The employer wants to know if you understand what they want accomplished and what work needs doing.  Better read the job description!  Beyond checking your comprehension of the job, the employer will judge the thought and effort you put into preparing for the interview.

     4.  “What does it take to do this job really well?”  You should bring this matter up!

  • Hopefully you hit on this when answering the previous question, but drive home the point that you can do this job, better than anybody!  Your time to glow!

     5.  “What is your idea of customer service?”  Almost every job involves some kind of service to customers.

  • The employer wants to know if you have a strong concept of good customer service.  Do you mention such things as good listening skills?  Thinking and being perceptive?  Do you say it’s important to get information you don’t have; if a specific item isn’t available, that you would offer alternatives; that extra effort to meet customer needs and solve problems is important?  What about exceeding customer expectations, and delivering customers a pleasant surprise?  Does your attitude make it apparant that you enjoy working or helping people?

     6.  “What strengths would you bring to this job?”  State how your skills match the needs of the employer!

  • Do an inventory of your assets–your knowledge, skills, and talents.

  • Research this employer’s needs and problems.

  • Identify where these intersect.

       It can be helpful to talk about your abilities in terms of “The 4 Reasons Employers Hire”-

  • Make $$ Money $$   ——> “I can add to your bottom line by….”

  • Saving $$ Money $$ ——> “I can cut your costs/reduce waste with…..”

  • Saving Time —————-> “I can improve efficiency through….”

  • Achieve Important Goals -> “I can meet the goals by….”

     7.  “What are your weaknesses?” or “Where do you need to improve?”

Employers want to know if you recognize that you, like everyone, can improve and develop your skills.  Don’t

       volunteer a topic that could raise alarm or concern.  Talk about your strategies to learn and grow.  Avoid

       dwelling on any negative, avoid negative terms (say “challenge” instead of “weaknesses” etc) and “sandwich”

       potentially damaging issues between a positive lead-in and a positive conclusioin.

    8.  “What do you know about our industry?” or 9) “What do you know about our company?”

  • Research beyond just the company websites.  Use LinkedIn, your people network, customers, suppliers, employees of the company.  Share what you discover in a thoughtful way, to show genuine interest in the company.

   10.  “What about our industry/our company interests you?”

  • Are you genuinely excited about this field of work and about this company?  Share that!

   11.  “Tell me about a time when you….”

  • Solved a problem             

  • Made a difference

  • Made a mistake

  • Made a decision

  • Dealt with a difficult customer

  • Used creativity

  • Learned and applied a new skill

  • Tool a risk

   12.  “Tell me about how you would go about_____and the steps you would take.”

  • Questions #11 and 12 are “Situational” or “Behavioral” interview questions.  Employers judge your planning, thought process and your working style.

   13.  “What kind of money are you looking for?”

  • www.PostivelyMinnesota.com (keywords: Salary Tool) and www.Salary.com offer wage data by occupation; or phone people in your field and do a wage survey of your own, to find what your skills are worth.  “Know the market”!

   14.  “Do you have any questions for me?”

  • Traditionally asked as interviews wind down, this question could also be an OPENER.  You’ll be ready!  Bring meaningful questions, written down on legal pad in your folder.  Employers judge your attitude and serousness as a job candidate by the significance and thought behind your questions.  A suggestion: avoid saying, “No.”

So often we are reluctant to call an employer to check on the status of our application. We fear we will offend, or worse, anger the manager, who will scream at us over the phone something like, “Hey pal, what is WRONG with you?…..Take some advice: don’t call us….we’ll call you!”