Interview Cheat Sheet

Interview Cheat Sheet: 8 Tips For A Flawless Interview

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Got an interview coming up soon? We know you have a busy life – and sometimes there’s just not enough time in the day to scan through articles to get the information you need.

That’s why we created the Interview Cheat Sheet! We pulled the best tips, tricks, and advice from our archives and put them all in one place just for you.

Interview Cheat Sheet

Here are eight solid interview tips from our experts:

Interview Preparation

When you’re preparing for your interview, you need to make sure you cover all of your bases. Here are some tips on what to say to a potential employer:

1. Stay away from superlatives.

Keep it singular. Superlatives such as “weakest” or “worst” or “biggest” indicate the greatest degree of whatever is it describing. “Worst weakness” is the weakness of the highest degree implying there are other weaknesses of varying degrees but weaknesses nonetheless. That begs the question, “What are some others?” Likewise, “need most to improve” implies there are others areas for improvement. In any case, try this as an alternative, “If I had to come up with one…” (No negatives, no multiples.)

(Original article: How To Answer Tough Interview Questions Correctly)

2. Be prepared with questions for the employer.

Each interview takes on a different format, but somewhere along the way an employer will likely ask if you have any questions. Even if the interview was packed with information, always have questions prepared to ask the employer that have not been touched on or that you can benefit from by having more information. Asking questions expresses to an employer that you are serious and sincerely interested in the company and position.

Asking the “right” questions can also help solidify a positive impression. For instance, if you have done the proper research on the company before the interview, you may have knowledge of developments happening at the company or within the industry that may have an impact on the job you apply for.

Asking questions that express you are thinking ahead about the job and how certain developments may impact the business demonstrates to an employer that you are a “smart” candidate. You are already thinking like you belong in the position and looking ahead at how to address possible challenges. These types of questions can also help the employer see how you fit right in.

(Original article: Information You Must Have Before Your Interview)

3. Show them you did your homework.

One great way to build your interviewing confidence is by conducting plenty of research on the company you’re applying with and the position it’s offering. A common question interviewers ask is, “Do you know anything about our company?” Most times, candidates are forced to answer “No.”

If you’re able to share the company’s background information and showcase knowledge of its future goals for the position in question, you’ll undoubtedly catch the interviewer off-guard, in a great way!

(Original article: 5 Ways To Build Confidence For An Interview)

Interview Questions

Being prepared to answer any question that comes out of the interviewer’s mouth is a big advantage in interviews. Here are some questions to go over before your next interview:

1. “How do you handle stress?”

Interviewers are generally looking for an answer that indicates you can handle multiple priorities and projects at the same time. An answer stating that stress is a natural part of life and you feel equipped to handle the challenges of the job and balance them with the rest of your life may be just the answer that earns you the job.

(Original article: How To Handle Tough Interview Questions)

2. “Tell me about yourself.”

What the hiring manager is really asking: “How do your education, work history, and professional aspirations relate to the open job?”

How to respond: Select key work and education information that shows the hiring manager why you are a perfect fit for the job and for the company.

For example, a recent grad might say something like, “I went to X University where I majored in Y and completed an internship at Z Company. During my internship, I did this and that (name achievements that match the job description), which really solidified my passion for this line of work.”

(Original article: How To Answer 7 Of The Most Common Interview Questions)

3. “Tell me about a time when you did ______.”

Just because you’ve never done something doesn’t mean you can’t do it. And it surely doesn’t mean you can’t excel at it. If you’re asked a question about prior experience regarding something you’ve never done, the best way to answer isn’t to say “No, I’ve never done that.” Or, “No, I don’t have experience in that area.” The best way to handle the question is to say something along these lines: “While I have not had any direct experience in XYZ, I am a fast learner, and I am confident that I could (do, manage, direct, handle, etc.) XYZ successfully and exceed your expectations.”

And an effective way to enhance your previous confident response would be to share with the hiring manager about a time when you did do something very similar—or something that could in some way relate to the experience they are asking you about. However, no matter how you approach the question, be sure to emphasize that you’re confident you can do whatever it is they’re asking you about.

(Original article: #1 Interview Question You Must Answer Correctly)

Post-Interview Protocol

Even after the interview is over, you need to go the extra mile to impress the employer. Here are some post-interview tips:

1. Follow up with a thank-you note.

Send notes to all the individuals with which you had a conversation. Do not send one note to just the hiring manager. You will miss out on all the other contacts that you made.

Even a note to the receptionist / office manager is appropriate and helpful but only if you had more of a conversation not just a “hello.”

Make the notes unique to each individual based on the conversation you had with them. Remind them of the conversation you had.

In each thank-you note, remind the contact why you bring value to the company / team / position and show your enthusiasm.

As the hiring process progresses or slows, stay in touch with your contacts, as appropriate. If the process has slowed begin to follow up about every two business weeks. Too soon and it will be considered over-kill. Much later that two weeks and you’ll be forgotten.

(Original article: How To Follow Up After The Interview)

2. Use the three-paragraph rule.

Your follow-up e-mail should be short, sweet and personalized. Generally, a good rule of thumb for the length is three paragraphs, with no more than two to three sentences in each paragraph.

First Paragraph: Briefly thank them for their time and reiterate your interest in the position.

Second Paragraph: Discuss a couple of your strengths and how the company would benefit if you were hired. Consider using bullet points to break up your text.

Third Paragraph: Include any points of clarifications you might have. Include answers to questions that you weren’t able to answer during the interview, or add new info about yourself that was left out of the interview. But, remember, keep it brief.

Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, suggests indicating your next point of contact by saying something along the lines of “Look forward to hearing from you within the next two weeks.” If no date was set at the interview, either ask for one or specify you will loop back to them for a decision in two weeks.

(Original article: 6 Tips For Following Up After The Job Interview)

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ariella Coombs

Ariella is the Content Manager for CAREEREALISM. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.A. in journalism. Follow her @AriellaCoombs or find her on Google+.

16 comments

  1. How would you handle sending a ‘Thank you’ when the interviewers do not provide you with their contact info? Most interviews I’ve had are arranged through an admin. The interviewers (presumably) do not want you pestering them for status updates, so contact information is not provided. I sent a note to the admin, requesting that she forward to my interviewers, but who knows if it was ever sent on?

  2. Quite area of information. I simply found your web site plus in accession investment capital to state i receive actually appreciated consideration your blog site threads. By any means I shall be signing up on your complement or maybe My spouse and i success you will get the ways to access persistently quick.

  3. Hi,

    Interesting posts daily !, really it is useful, can you post an article about what are the companies that to avoid or we can say positively ” how can we find the best company”. Coz, in my experience many are fake and not providing the proper pay to the employee. Consider this post as a voice of all poor employees not getting the proper pay from the concern.

  4. Hi,

    Interesting posts daily !, really it is useful, can you post an article about what are the companies that to avoid or we can say positively ” how can we find the best company”. Coz, in my experience many are fake and not providing the proper pay to the employee.

  5. It was a very informative article but I just had one question in regards to “tell me something about yourself.” When I was with university career adviser they told me this question means tell me something about yourself not your education or your work experience. So I am just confused as to what the right answer to the question will be.

    • I too having the same confusion on “tell me something about yourself.”
      Please let me know if you the get the suitable answer.

    • I also have had something similar said to me with respect to university career advisers and the “tell me about yourself” question. From my understanding, the employer does want to know your educational and working background, but they also have all that information on your resume, so reiterating it is not the best approach. Instead, they want to hear what about yourself and your experiences will benefit the position and the company. Bringing up more specific details about your job or educational experiences that may not have been included on your resume may be the way to go, but I like to do it in the way of a sales pitch – this is who I am, what I’ve done, and what I’ve got to offer!

      • The way I have been coached to answer this question, and it has been successful, is to point to some dominant traits you possess that would also be beneficial for the position you are applying for. For example, I am in sales and the first I talk about with this question is my competitive nature and go from there.

  6. Thoughts on “Tell me about a time when you did ______.” If you’re asked a question about prior experience regarding something you’ve never done,… I think many of us can relate to an interview we have had in the past where such a question was asked.

    If a person directly involved in the hiring process asks you a question like this about something you have ‘never’ done during an interview in general it should set off a flag especially if you are in a skill based role, ex. IT, engineering or accounting. The rule of thumb is you either have the experience or skill or you don’t. If you don’t have the skill you can try the finesse answer above but the bottom line is you are admitting to a hiring manager that you do not have a directly mentioned specific skill requirement listed in the job description.

    The use of such a question by someone directly involved with the role you are interviewing for could be a hint that the job description you responded to might still be a work in process and not a final job description.

    Another words the company may be interviewing people to help them clarify and refine or even redefine the job description and expectations level. Such interviews allow the company to gain insight and a more complete understanding of the experience and skill level that is in the market place. The company can assess whether the combination of skills and experience they envision for the role is realistic. These interviews can help the company decide whether they want to tweak job description specifics such as length of experience required, industry specific expereince and skills levels other related knowledge needed for the role or even decide to change the job title.

    • I suggest that interview question 3. “Tell me about a time when you did ______.” is a behavioral question set up, giving the candidate an opportunity to illustrate a specific moment (appropriate response would start with “When” not “If”) illustrating their achievement through setting up the response in a story/timeline format that details the situation to include who, what, where, when, why, how and the RESULT that benefitted the organization.

  7. These are all really important tips on how to prepare for your interview, whether it’s taking place in person or through online video. What a lot of these tips come down to is preparation and research. Knowing a good deal about the company, the issues it’s facing, and the company culture will allow you to sound informed and ask great questions. Employers will be impressed you took the time out to research, while you’ll find out vital information other candidates are missing because they don’t know what questions to ask.

  8. Eileen, you are right in your comment. I watched the video you have referred to. In thoses time of job scarcity you find a bunch of gurus, given advise. No one of them really compromise to give you a deadline, e.g., if using my strategy you don’t fined the job you want in 60 days I will refund your money back. Or you don’t see them finding good job for themselves. So I would recommend, to keep your skiils sharp and use common sense you looking for work.

  9. I’m a bit confused — you just did a video on “thank-you” notes that instructed the writer to keep it short… only truly thank the interviewer for their time. Your video instructed NOT to discuss strengths and fit, benefits to their hiring you… so which is it???

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