Preparing For an Interview

Category : Interviews

I’ve hired almost 100 people in my corporate career at all career levels from entry through expert and I want you to know how to ace an interview with someone like me. What follows gives you a great understanding of what I look for and how you should get ready for any Corporate America interview when you’re just starting out.

The Phone Screen

Phone screens are generally 30 minute phone calls or video conferences focused on figuring out if you:

  1. Communicate effectively
  2. Have the basic skills needed for the job
  3. Want the job

I personally start by introducing myself, telling you about the position, and then allowing you to ask questions about the position. I learn a lot from your questions so you need to be prepared with some. If you have an interest in the position then we will move on.

Next up is generally a skills based question. I want to get an understanding for whether you actually have the skills that are on your resume that are relevant to the position I’m hiring for. Here I’m listening carefully to how you communicate and assessing your skill level.

Finally I’ll generally ask an experience or a problem solving question. These let me know how you deal with situations you’ve been exposed to in your past work experience or present you with a theoretical one so that I can hear about how you think and approach problems.

The best way to get through the phone screen is to:

  1. Know who I am ahead of time
  2. Ask good questions about the company or position
  3. Show me you have the technical skill I’m interviewing for and can communicate them
  4. Show me you can solve problems and that you’re open with me

To get ready for a phone screen:

  1. Look up the person on LinkedIn
  2. Learn about what the company does
  3. Create a list of a few questions
  4. Find some sample technical interview questions for the skills on your resume and practice them

The Phone Interview

dreamstime_m_31903135If you make it past a phone screen often you’ll make it to a phone interview next. Phone interviews are generally 60 minutes on the phone or a video conference. If you’re interviewing for a technical skills role you may need internet access so that you can collaborate with the interviewer.

The most important thing for you to get out of a phone interview is an understanding for the position and whether you want it. To do so you need to ask questions! At the end of the interview, if you don’t want the position, just let the interviewer know, you’ll save them a lot of time.

When I conduct phone interviews I’m focused on figuring out:

  1. Do you really have the technical skills I need
  2. What are the limits of your technical skill
  3. How you work on a team
  4. Whether you will fit with the team I have an opening on

If we haven’t talked already in a phone screen I’ll start with an introduction of the role, the team, and the position. You then will have the opportunity to ask questions. Finally we’ll jump in to the phone interview questions.

Questions will be specifically designed to show me where your skills are, how you work with other people, and how you handle things you don’t know how to do, and the behaviors you have had at previous jobs.

To get ready for a phone interview:

  1. Look up the interviewer on LinkedIn
  2. Look up recent news on the company
  3. Figure out an answer to any phone screen questions that you bombed
  4. Run through sample interview questions for the position you are interviewing for (meaning: practice!)

The In-Person Interview

Teacher meme by Filip PticekWow, you made all the way to an in-person interview. If you’re going for a job at a large company this is a big deal! Apparently the interviewers so far liked what they heard and they want to get a better understanding for you and get opinions on you from some of the team members or the interviewers peers (a multi-session interview with different people is called a “loop”). This is exciting and can make you nervous.

Tip #1: Relax! This is just another day and you’re talking with some people you don’t know about stuff you do know.

In an in-person interview loop, as the hiring manager, I want to:

  1. Sell you the position
  2. Give you an impression of what it will be like to work for me
  3. Get a final opinion on your fit on the team

Other interviewers will focus on different areas of your skills and abilities and the limits of your capability. Don’t be worried about getting the right answer… I and the interviewers working with me are far more interested in how you deal with things you don’t know. So, we’re going to try to figure out what you know and where that ends. This way we know where your boundaries are. We also want to see you figure things out.

Tip #2: Clarify Questions! We want to know that you don’t go running blindly into walls, rather, you ask where the light switch is first

Tip #3: Don’t Worry About Not Knowing! We are trying to find the limits to your experience and skills.

Tip #4: In-Person Interview days can be tiring! Be sure to ask for breaks, get liquids, eat a snack, and get a walk in if possible.


Here’s how to get ready:

  1. Relax
  2. Dress professionally
  3. Print and bring a couple resumes, just in case
  4. Arrive early
  5. Be yourself

If you’ve made it this far and done all this you can be confident that you’re being given the job, or not, based on who you are.