Top 10 Tips for Successful Interviewing

Fear, anxiety, dread and nervousness are predominant reactions many of us have to the interviewing process. We're concerned that we won't present the "right" image or won't say the "right" words. We want approval and job offers but not the stress that a job search brings. Here are ten tips to support you during the interview phase of your job search.

1. Remember that the interview is just an interview. An interview is a conversation and a mutual exchange of information ­ the interviewer is learning about you while you're learning about the company and the position. Use this opportunity to your advantage! Think through in advance what you most want to communicate about yourself ­ your skills, personal attributes & professionalism. Think through in advance what you most want to learn about the company and position. Ask intelligent questions that demonstrate your range, depth and curiosity.

2. Be clear on your objectives. Clarity is attractive ­ a willingness to take or do anything is not. Be clear about what you want as well as what you don't want ­ those who express a willingness to take anything often get nothing! Be prepared to state your objective, relevant experience, education and career goals. Tie your responses to the company's mission or to the function of the position you're interviewing for. Alignment and creating mutually beneficial alliances is attractive. Demonstrate this within the interview.

3. Be clear on your strengths. Even if you're not directly asked this question, know that the interviewer is assessing you and the conversation in order to get this information. In addition to being clear on your strengths, be prepared to relate your strengths specifically to the position for which you're being considered. You can do this even if you've not specifically been asked about your strengths and weaknesses.

4. Know how to describe your weaknesses as strengths. There are two effective ways to communicate your weaknesses. One way is to communicate your weakness in the context of what you've learned as a result of the weakness. This is effective because you're demonstrating the ability to learn from your mistakes. Another effective way to discuss your weaknesses is to demonstrate that your weakness is actually a strength. For example, you might respond, "One of my weaknesses is that I tend to be impatient with people who aren't willing to give 110% to their jobs." Speak about a weakness from a strengths perspective. Isn't persistence really just stubbornness wrapped inside a different word?

5. Prepare, prepare and prepare. Before the interview, prepare responses to all the possible questions you may be asked ­ then prepare, prepare and prepare! Practice answering "mock" questions, or, audio or video tape your responses if you don't have someone with whom you can role-play. Practice and prepare until your responses are completely natural and roll off your tongue. Saying the words out loud and not only in your mind makes a difference.

6. Make contact. We're all human beings and enjoy making contact with one another. We all appreciate authenticity. If two individuals have equal ability, training & experience ­ which will be the person hired? Most likely, the person who makes the strongest or more positive connection with the interviewer will be the person hired. Get out of your comfort zone and establish contact with your interviewer ­ give them an opportunity to like you! Be comfortable and be yourself. Wouldn't you want to hire a person you enjoy being around?

7. Focus on the needs of the company, not on the job you want. Yes, the interview is your opportunity to create an impactful impression, but the focus of your attention shouldn't only be on getting your points across. Be an exceptional listener and focus on the needs of the company as well as how & what you'd contribute. All people appreciate being with an excellent listener ­ so be the excellent listener you are! This will help you to establish rapport. Also, you'll most likely learn valuable information about the company, the position or the interviewer that will enable you to better respond ­ this will help you to make better contact and a strong impression.

8. Go on interviews regardless of your desire to work for the particular company or job. Consider these "practice interviews" or/and "networking interviews." Unless you have a specific reason for not accepting an interview, accept all interviews. Practice your interviewing skills and enjoy the process. Today's interview for a position you're not interested in could lead to tomorrow's opportunity.

9. Find ways to nourish yourself, especially before the interview. A positive upbeat style enhances the image you're presenting ­ you want to shine "from the inside out." While skills and talents are essential, radiating vitality and positive energy is equally important. Find ways to "jump-start" yourself on the road to increased vitality ­ this will indirectly boost your job prospects.

10. Don't ignore the basics. This means having a tight resume, an excellent appearance, available references and a well-prepared portfolio (as appropriate). Never underestimate the importance of professionalism, especially around the basics. Everything else is gravy if the basics aren't solidly anchored by competence and professionalism. Seek assistance for perspective and support, to ensure that you're putting your best foot forward.


Jan Gordon, LCSW is an Executive and Personal Coach who finds great joy in helping her clients achieve outstanding results! Ms. Gordon provides coaching to individuals and teams who are dedicated to enhancing their personal power and sense of fulfilment. Her coaching embraces the concept that challenge provides opportunity. Visit her website at: Jan can reached at

Copyright © 2001 by Jan Gordon. All Rights Reserved. This content may be forwarded only in full, with copyright/bio/contact/creation information intact, without specific permission, when used only in a not-for-profit format. If any other use is desired, permission in writing from Jan Gordon is required.

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