Ace Your Job Interview

Preparation & Practice is Everything

By following these interview prep and practice strategies, you'll show up to interviews with ease, confidence, and enthusiasm instead of stress.

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Let's re-frame how you think about interviewing

Each interview brings you closer to The Job!

You are the exact right person for a role that exists out there right now. And there is a hiring manager looking for you, right now! Your job is to find that role and show up ready to that interview.

You can master each stage of the hiring process.

Interview confidence is a learnable skill. You can practice and master the art of talking about your previous experience in terms of where you want to go next.

The Elevator Pitch Starts Every Conversation

Whether it's a networking call, a phone screen, or a full-on interview, it starts with a concise, memorable Elevator Pitch. You share yours, and they share theirs, and then the conversation develops from there. Let's build one together.

Example Elevator Pitch

I’ve been leading growth and operations in the tech industry for over 10 years, and prior to that was a teacher. Most recently I founded LessonsUp, where I built a career development community of 600 people in six months.

Let's Build Yours!

I’ve been in [Industry] for x years and prior to that I was [in industry]. Most recently I…[company] [key result]

Specific Answer Interview Questions

Interviewers typically have a few questions wherein they are expecting a very specific answer. Questions are usually along the lines of, “based on your experience, you should know…”

Filler Words

Take time to collect your thoughts between questions by using these phrases instead of "um," "uh," or "well." “This looks great, I’ll take a minute to read through it” “I’ve thought about this a lot and…” “Great question” “This reminds me of…”

The 3 types of interview questions to prepare for

Specific-answer

• As the name suggests, these are questions designed to elicit a specific answer from you • The least common type of interview question: you’ll likely only get asked 1-3 of these

Critical-thinking

• Questions designed to see how you think • The majority of the interview discussion (3-5 of the questions you get asked) will probably consist of critical thinking questions

Performance

• Questions designed to see how you handle a challenge or scenario • Typically 1 question, but it might be a discussion or even whiteboard discussion that lasts a while

How to prepare:

Make sure you can speak to the roles and responsibilities listed in the job description Be ready to discuss specifics around how you would [do thing x] for everything listed in the job description that you can speak to. Often, we apply for jobs that we haven’t done before, and that’s great! Just speak to what you know. Research and talk to people in the job field to find out what specific-answer questions you might be asked in a typical interview for a position in that field and get the answers to those questions. When you have a strong opinion about each item on the job description, and you can back it up, you’re good to go.

Interview question: What would you do if a potential sponsor said no?

Note: The interviewer is being very precise here by asking the candidate a specific question about a role she has already done. She is not trying to challenge her with questions about what she will be doing. Candidate: I would move onto the next potential sponsor. I don’t need to waste time on the wrong people. Sales is about persistence! Interviewer: But what would you do if every potential sponsor said no? Candidate: Then I would go to my manager. He’s well connected and would have more resources. Interviewer: But what if he didn’t have more resources? Candidate: Then I would explore other areas of my network for more leads.

Example

A candidate with a little over a year of experience in sales and partnerships for the NFL interviewed for an entry-level partnership role. In her role with the NFL she successfully signed up paid sponsors for events. She knew how to do her job, but she failed the interview and talked to us about what went wrong

What went wrong?

In this scenario, the interviewer wanted to know how the candidate overcomes objections in sales: “What would you do if a lead said no?” The interviewer also wanted to know if the candidate realized the importance of overcoming objections in sales. The candidate had a big “a ha!” moment when we discussed this. She had been very intent on showing her persistence and the power of her network that she missed the interviewer's intent. If she had prepared for specific-answer questions, she would have realized that this question fell into that category. These are the easy questions, and the easiest to prepare for, but if you don’t prepare for them in advance, they can be tricky during an interview.

Critical-thinking interview questions

Critical-thinking interview questions Interviewers typically ask questions that don’t have a right or wrong answer, but rather explore how you think about a challenge. The key to answering these questions is to show how your thought process works and to include examples from your career experience.

How to prepare career stories:

Develop 5 strong examples from your career experience. Think of each example as a story that you can tell that shows how you think, how you approach problems, how you work with others, and how you find answers when you’re in unfamiliar situations. As critical thinking questions come up, you want to address the question and possibly ask follow-up questions for context. You would then want to use the opportunity to tell a story that answers the question and makes the interviewer excited to work with you. It’s best to have 5 examples in your back pocket so that you can map any question to a strong story example. These are the easy questions, and the easiest to prepare for, but if you don’t prepare for them in advance, they can be tricky during an interview. Think of a career story that shows: 1. How you overcome challenges 2. How you manage challenging constraints 3. How you solve tough problems 4. How you work with others 5. How you approach problems you’re unfamiliar with 6. How you make an impact at work

How to generate examples from your career:

• Find an example for your top key results • Find an example for your top transferable skills • Think about a time you thought a project would fail. How did you overcome it? • Think about a tough coworker, someone who made your life difficult. How did you manage it? • Think about projects that had difficult constraints. How did you overcome them?

How to tell a career story

• State the key result • Describe the challenge and be specific • Explain how you overcame the challenge and be specific

Example gone wrong:

A candidate with a couple of years of experience in customer support at a call center applied for a customer-support role at a small business. In their role at the call center, the candidate had talked to hundreds of customers.

Interview question: How do you handle calls with upset customers?

Candidate: I would try to solve the customer’s problem. Interviewer: What would you do if the customer showed signs of frustration or anger? Candidate: I would review the case carefully and give them a new solution. Interviewer: Can you tell me about a call where a customer was upset? How did you handle it? Candidate: Most of my customers aren’t upset, but when they are I try to solve their problem.

What went wrong:

What went wrong: In this scenario, I was actually the hiring manager, and I knew that this was the wrong person for the job from the moment the candidate said “I would try to solve the customer’s problem.” The candidate that moved forward in the hiring process and wound up getting the job discussed their thoughts on starting with empathy and listening to customers, and then gave a great example of a real-world situation in which they listened to a customer with empathy.

Performance interview questions

Interviewers may give you a scenario and ask you to think through how you would handle it. Sometimes the scenario involves whiteboarding or simple math, or sometimes it just sets up specific criteria and boundaries for solving a problem. This question will largely depend on the type of job you’re applying for and how advanced you are in your career. Example: Marketing manager role “Here's a tentative landing page that we're looking to build for X. How can it be improved?”