Job Interview Guide
Job interviews can be nerve-racking and cause a person to be on pins and needles. It doesn’t have to be that way if you prepare properly and have gathered the insights before hand to know enough to be dangerous. There are only so many questions interviewers can ask, so knowing the basic topics isn’t too difficult. Knowing your personal experiences and structuring them into stories will help you respond with confidence.
Prior to Interview
- Print out job description (and conduct informational interview, if possible)
- Summarize and write out top three needs/skills using the words in job description for the role (& top three personal interests in role [aka “why this company?”]
- Identify and use buzzwords from job description and informational interview
- Research careers page for “what we look for”/“core values”, recent news articles and current products
*Study this document enough beforehand so that you don’t have to bring it in, but don’t be nervous if you forget some of the ideas
During the Interview
- Be Yourself
- Tell Your Story
- Seriously, go in and have fun like you would normally meeting new people, have some humor, make them feel comfortable and relax. Be natural in your responses and don’t be who you are not.
- Be present, not outside yourself as a critic (don’t forget to have a PERSONALITY! Don’t let fear or intimidation strip away your social and listening/questioning skills that make others comfortable and makes you comfortable, confident and who you are.
- Speak for only 40 seconds at a time (four or five sentences)
- It’s not about giving a correct answer (which will blend in), it is about STANDING OUT (with stories)
- Be conversational, make it like a ping pong match
- Respond strategically (thought about it), not just tactically (not just an order taker)
- Make sure responses (stories or experiences) are RELEVANT to the question (it’s not just about how it is presented). Tie it to the role.
- Demonstrate quickly you can cover the basics (they won’t know all the nitty gritty details of the role)
- Show that you are truly interested (but don’t take over the interview, let them ask questions first)
- Exude an air of strong culture fit
- Understand the recruiters’ role and stake in the process (trying to weed out, ask for input on how to impress the hiring manager)
- Only needs to be 15 – 20 mins.
Off The Script
Recruiter: Tell me about yourself
Me: Sure thing. I went to BYU-Idaho for Marketing & IS, then worked in sales for four years. Transitioned to web development & digital marketing while attending Arizona State for Business School. I have been at Bank of America for five years, including a two year general management rotation program and three years in digital marketing. (me in 30 seconds) Before we go on, can I ask a clarifying question about the role?
Me: Based on the job description, I understand the top three needs are x, y and z, correct?
Me: Great. I’ve done x, y and z in x roles…
Recruiter: Why this company? (Or why are you looking to leave?)
Me: Three reasons. First, At heart, I’m a connector, so it’s natural for me to bring people together for a common goal. Second, Technology is my second religion according to my wife. Third, love the product…
Questions to ask the recruiter (use as a reference, but ask custom questions about the role after listening to them speak about the role):
- Given my background, do you have any concerns that we didn’t cover? OR How do you see me fitting into this role?
- What do you like most about working here?^5
- What is different about this company compare to others you’ve worked at?
- What would you change around the company if you could?
- What hard skills and soft skills that are necessary to succeed at the company?
- How does the management team deal with mistakes?
- Back everything up with a story (because that is what sticks)
- Even if they don’t ask for a story, you can give a series of small events (like A/P example, doesn’t have to be quant)*3
- If you don’t have direct experience, talk about speaking with partners, materials you’ve read, products you’ve used
- Mirror the interviewer’s body language
Questions to ask the hiring manager (use as a reference, but ask custom questions about the role after listening to them speak about the role):
- What are the major challenges for this role/team?
- Given my background, how do you see me fitting into this role?
- How will success be measured?
- Can you describe a typical day?
- Tell me about one of your recent successful projects
- How is the team structured?
Pain Interviewing *4
Hiring Manager: Tell me about yourself
Me: (Background) Sure thing. I went to Arizona State for Business School and have been at Bank of America for five years, including a two year rotational program and three years in digital marketing. Before I go on, can I ask a clarifying question about the role so I know that my remarks will be relevant?
Hiring Manager: Yes
Me: (Need) If I understand the role correctly, you need someone to…
Hiring Manager: Yes
Me: (Pain Points) How would someone on your team articulate the problem they are experiencing with…
- Treat it like a conversation with a friend, but be armed with stories & info
- Conversation should be like a ping pong match
- The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable the interviewer will be
- Ask “Is there anything that would preclude me from proceeding in the interview process?
- Say “I take my career seriously…I’m comfortable with X (70% of role) and Z (30% of role) would be a challenge, making it interesting for me and a growth opportunity.”
- Tell me about your self – This is “code” for tell me your story using words in the job description AND industry buzzwords
- Tie these top three skills that are listed on top three in resume and cover letter
- Five Point Agenda book?
- “Always be genuine, people can sense when someone isn’t being themselves” – Jeffree Star
- Don’t talk about “we”, talk about “I”
- Don’t give too much detail
- Pause in between so they can follow
- Don’t sound like you are writing an editorial
- Don’t use jargon of any kind, use natural language
- Send short Thank You email (one paragraph, see below). Search Gmail “Thank You,[“ for template. DON”T copy and paste, type in directly to avoid weird formatting.
Subject: Thank You, [Name]!
Thank you so much for taking time to speak with me about the open role on the team. It was a pleasure to learn even more about [XYZ Company]. I’m very excited about the opportunity to explore a potential career with the [specific team]! I think my experience with [industry, skill, or product] aligns well with what the team is looking for. Also, I can see this would be a tremendous learning and growth opportunity to work in a skilled and experienced [marketing] team. I look forward to hearing from you [whenever they said they would be in touch or in 10 days if they didn’t give you a date].
Behavioral based interviewing is the most common type of interviewing. When asked about a skill or a specific time you did something, you should have a story prepare. Structuring it in a specific way will help organize it in a coherent manner. The STAR+ method is one of the ways you can do this.
- Situation: explain the context of the story
- Thinking: tell the thinking or they why behind the story
- Action: elaborate on your part of contributing to solution
- Result: describe the impact of your project
- +: talk about lessons learned from the process
Additional Questions for Interviewers
- Given me Digital Marketing background, how do you see me fitting into this role?
- Can you describe a typical day?
- What is the top priority for someone in this role for the next three months?
- How can someone make an immediate impact?
- What types of challenges would you expect in the first few months?
- What are some immediate projects that need to be worked on?
- What have past employees done to succeed in this position?
- How does this position support the company’s mission, goals and projected success?
Training & Development
- What kind of training will I receive?
- What kind of general training is available company wide?
- What’s the process for onboarding new employees and how do you handle beginner mistakes?
- How will success be measured for this role?
- What would you like to see accomplished in the first 30,60,90 Days?
- Why did you come to this company?
- What do you like about the company?
- What do you dislike about the company?
- What is different about working here that other places you’ve worked?
- Tell me about a recent project or campaign you worked on.
- (Set up) Can you help me understand the decision making process at the company?
- (Set up) What are the two or three characteristics most necessary for success in the company?
- Can you speak to (the latest press release)?
- What are your plans for growth?
- How has your latest marketing campaign/product/program performed?
- How are you stacking up in the marketplace compared to competitors?
- How is the team structured?
- Can you tell me about the team I’ll be working with?
- Who will I work with most closely?
- What other departments work closely with this one?
- What are some ways the company focuses on team development?
- (Set up) Can you help me understand the work environment, culture and morale here?
- Tell me about the company mission statement or values.
- What’s the difference between a good employee in this role and a fantastic one?
- What would your employees say are the top three reasons they love working for you?
- Are there any concerns about my background being a fit for this role?
- What are the next steps in the interview process?
- Is there anything else I can you with that could be helpful?
- Can I answer any final questions for you?
- I have a few more questions, but I want to be respectful of your time. Want to end now or do you have flexibility?