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Virtual Job Club Day 21: Ace the Interview

Yesterday was a big success. You learned how to set yourself up for success before arriving at the interview and your questions in the comments section were great. (If you missed it, click here to listen.)

Press play below to hear career expert Kim Carswell as she shares tips, tactics and strategies to nail your in-person or phone interview. Everything you must do when you show up on the big day.

In the meantime, post your interview questions (both phone and in-person interviews) and stories (good, bad and ugly) and we’ll try to address them.

Just one more day to go in our program.

Have a good day!



  1. Joanna

    First interview tomorrow for my “dream job” via phone. I cannot WAIT to hear the call today and to get even more inspired. It’s a position where I am probably not the most experienced nor the typical candidate, but I leveraged a connection and was able to get my foot in the door!!!

  2. PAL

    I had a telephone screening interview. I had experience with all of the technological applications except one. I answered that I did not have actual experience but could learn it. I have since read that employers no longer want to hear that you can easily learn something, but expect you to have skills in hand. So, do you say you do even when you don’t? Thanks

  3. Maureen Reintjes

    Nailing an interview? I’ve found the following has helped me as well as job seekers I’ve coached over the years. I’m interested in hearing from other professional if my advice is on track or not. Plus it will help me in my job search!

    1) Keep control of the interview by setting the pace from the beginning. Break the ice first.

    2) Show genuine interest in the interviewer(s), the company and the position you are seeking.

    3)Point out connections, similiar interests, similiar civic/community interests with the goal of giving the interviewer a holistic view of yourself.

    4)Make yourself less a stranger before discussing how your experience and skills makes you a good fit for their open position. Some people may think a holistic view may be too much information but it is not. You don’t know what the plans are for the position you are being interviewed for. They may be just going through the political motions of interviewing outside candidates even though they already have someone else in mind for the job. If you give them a holistic view of you and they understand your experience and skills sets they are more apt to suggest another position in their company for you or give you contacts that might help in your search.

    5) Don’t put your emotional eggs all in one basket for one position. Have many things going on in your search. You will convey emotional strongness instead of looking like a desperate basket case if in your mind you know there are more dream job opportunities out there.

    —-So just because I’ve worked with job seekers for over a decade does that mean I have all the answers? NOPE! I’ve been hit with questions in interviews that I never saw coming. When stumped with a question you don’t know how to answer I’ve found it best to smile, chuckle a little and say “That’s a great question. I’ve never heard that one asked before. Could you give me a second and let me think about that one?” It works. Most of the time they will then bypass that question and say they think it’s a stupid question….and usually the question is not a good one to ask in an interview.

    —–Another tip is to make sure you realize that from the time you enter the parking lot till you leave the parking lot cameras are on you. I naturally just treat everyone good. But, if you are not a huge people person or observant of those around you be so on the interview from entering the parking lot to leaving the parking lot. I’ve had interviewers watch me walk in. Smile at the gardner, at the parking attendent, at the other people walking in the parking lot and walking in the door. Inside the building be kind to the delivery people, the janitor, the receptionist. If there is visible security camera/tv or security booth give a little wave to those people. If you ride up an elevator unescorted and there are employees on there introduce yourself and let them know what position you are applying for. I did that once and had a manager waiting for me after I got out of an interview to discuss positions in her department.

    —-And, above all else pat yourself on the back for landing an interview, no matter how it turns out, you got the interview….there was interest in you and there will be again.

    My question (yep I’ve got one!): This may be a very simple one but it’s one that I sometimes don’t know what to do – Many times the interviewer will offer coffee or water. I tend to not accept that offer for fear I’ll knock the refreshement all over the interviewer’s desk. I’ll usually say “Oh, that’s very kind but no thank you. I’m good.” Most interviewers I can tell were just offering to be kind but occassionally I’ve had some strange responses to my saying “no thank you.” Like, “You’re not a coffee drinker? Everyone in that department are big coffee drinkers.” It felt like this was my first test question in the interview and I failed it! As simple as this seems it can be very awkward at times. Any suggestions?

  4. JF

    Sorry I will be missing the call today. Am having a prep with the headhunter – this should be interesting. I will listen back when I get done since the real interview is tomorrow! YEAH!

  5. CR

    I have a 4th interview at the end of the week with an organization that I WANT to work for. Yesterday Lauren eased my anxiety when she said/wrote to go through the bullet points in your resume and think what were the results and why was that accomplishment important. I have been thinking “What more can I be asked after 3 interviews already?” The answer is: Plenty! Thanks Lauren for helping me focus, and prepare in a strategic, productive way. Just because it’s my 4th interview doesn’t mean I don’t have to prepare, nor should I take this lightly. I should prepare just like I prepared for the other interviews.

  6. Greetings Johanna,

    I wish you much success with your interview tomorrow. Feel free to contact me via Linkedin if you have more questions from today’s call…

  7. Lois

    Wow, I can’t believe that the 21 day club is over. I found it very helpful. I’d like to listen to the lectures again this weekend. My current temp job ends next month so I have been networking and sending out resumes to online posts. So far, no interviews.

    I think we should continue the job search forum if that is possible: the support is great!! Good luck to everyone,


  8. Yes, CR…

    You do not want to start short changing yourself now. Put the same energy (if not more) into multiple interviews. They are a great way to covey your personal brand promise and cement why you are a good fit for the position.

  9. I hate to admit this, but I can be terrible at knowing which acronym applies to which software.

    I have learned so many programs throughout my professional life that I honestly can’t name them all. So while I’m versed in so many possible CRMs, ERPs, SAPs, DRGs I may not know WHICH acronym applies to the prospective company’s system. This can be important because I want to impress upon the interviewer that I have no fear, no problem, with learning new systems — and it can be likely I don’t know theirs specifically — but if I can relate from my background a similar ‘alphabet-soup’ type I think it can make all the difference in their assessment of me.

    When you’re working at a company no one refers to their system/program by the type of software it is — they use the name it was given.

    Here’s my analogy. Let’s say that the alphabet soup terms are equivalent to the word “orchestra.” If you’re being interviewed for a position that requires you to work with an “orchestra” how do you know what points in your experience to discuss? After all, there’s many different kinds — Boston Symphony, Brian Setzer, Count Basie, Nelson Riddle. They are ALL orchestras, but they represent very different kinds of music, types which you will automatically understand IF the name is used……but if only the word “orchestra” is used you can be lost. Now, you haven’t played with them all, or maybe you haven’t played with any of them specifically but you HAVE played with many “orchestras.” So how to figure out which ones in your past can best relate to this particular orchestra so the interviewer can see you can translate your experience into their needs?

    The flip side to this is — if an acronym is tossed at me during an interview and I’m not familiar with the meaning of the term how do I handle it?

  10. JF

    I missed the call today, is the link available to replay it?
    Thank you, I have interviews tomorrow and Thursday…yeah!

  11. Barbara, I agree internal acronyms can be quite confusing. However I would refer back to your resume. We add a Computer Knowledge section in our branded resumes and list all software via acronyms. This highlights your technical acumen and sets the framework for you to pepper your answers with descriptive terms when responding to behavioral based interview questions.

    With that said, when answering an “orchestra type” question I would try to pair it with a function listed in the job description. If you cannot discern the meaning, then say…forgive me, I am not familiar with the orchestra software. Is it a customized CRM or operation based software? Hopefully they will provide more insight.

  12. Alison

    I was told during my career prep class in college that following up and asking questions is very important. I have a list of questions that sound great during any interview, such as what do you like best about your job? Or are there performance reviews? For me, these are great questions I want answered because it really shows how you will be reviewed and strengths to the job (weaknesses tend to show too). I also need to ask more specific company related ones. Sometimes I think those are best left in a follow up email or call. It shows interest, that you are still thinking of the company even after the interview and keeps you in their mind.

  13. Lyz Bishop

    Will you be leaving these calls up for a while? I’d like to go back and re-listen to them this weekend.
    Thanks for all the great advice and encouragement!

  14. Debbie G.

    Thank you, Kim, for these insights and reminders. I especially liked the idea that “I am the expert on ME” and the potential employer is looking for me to educate them on all that I can do for them. There’s much more positive and expansive energy around that frame of reference than looking at it as just “selling me” to them. Thanks for that new perspective. – Deb

  15. Mary

    Thank you Kim for all of your insights and wonderful examples of strategic questions! I would love to see the video of employers and will look for it.

  16. MJD

    Interesting. Good points, I hope I remember them when I get an interview.

  17. Thank you for all the great comments…Really!!

    As promised, here is a YouTube video about how Zappos, CEO Tony Hsieh defines his happy company culture and why it works for employers, employees and customers!

    If you would like a comprehensive list of behavioral based interview questions, please contact me via Linkedin or [email protected].

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