How to Ace an Interview

Self Help

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As we talk about work and careers this month, I am sure that a lot of you will have questions about how to interview well. I am excited to announce that I have found someone with a little bit of experience hiring: my DH. DH is the member of the IT team at a local college. He routinely hires student workers and is occasionally on the hiring committee for full time positions as well. Here are his thoughts on how to ace an interview:


Notes on interviewing:

1.  It’s best to be interviewed in the middle of the group. The first person, people don’t know what to compare it to. The last person and everyone is tired already. It’s not the end of the world, but if given a preference, try to be the middle person.

2.  Elaborate but don’t ramble. 1 – 2 minute explanations of each question is the best. Longer and folks will get bored. Too short and they assume you’re not really ready or qualified for the interview. This will vary slightly depending on the job but you’d expect longer explanations from teachers, public speakers, politicians and shorter answers from secretaries, facilities, and IT.

3.  Be honest about the things which you are not proficient. This can’t happen for every question they ask though. 1 or 2 times is the most you should do it. Other than that, fake it.

4.  “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” are nearly in every interview.

5.  Know specifically your career and personal goals. They’ll ask about them.

6.  Have copies of your resume on hand just in case someone needs it to review while the interview is in progress.

7.  If you have tangible evidence of something you’ve made, bring that in. Photos, images, etc. Little bit harder with config files, but yeah, you get the idea. Pictures of server rooms, websites, ect.

8.  It’s ok to ask them to clarify the question.

9.  Never say that you just need a job, or worse, you just need the money. They know that and it’s a given. They want to know why THIS job. So research the position, ask others who work there, find out about the company and where it’s going in 5 years because you might be working there for that long. Say that you actually want to be part of the team, learn xyz skill and grow professionally and personally.

10.  Never hurts to mention that you would love living in the area. Relate with sports team or local past time.

11. Seems off if you are an older person applying for a low paying part-time job. Not saying don’t do it, but offer explanation why you want to work for their company. Again, it’s not for the money’s sake.

12.  The employer will usually ask if you have any questions for them. Have 1 or 2 questions (no more) prepared. Don’t ask stupid questions like “When will I get a parking pass” or “What’s the best time to use the gym?” Ask meaningful questions like, “Where do you see the company going in the next 5 years?” Or “Can you tell me more about what a day looks like for a xyz person?” Mention any special need that you may have. (I have a special need xyz, until I can make accommodations, would it be alright if I …?)

13.  Generally speaking it is illegal to ask questions about a protected status, ie. “What religion are you?” It’s also illegal to audio record someone without their consent (except the NSA, they can do whatever they want in the name of ‘safety’). So proving someone did this is also hard. My advice is to have something planned ahead of time like ie. Q: “By the way are you a xyz faith member?” A: “I really appreciate the interest, but that is a personal matter.” Most of the time they don’t mean anything by it, they are just over zealous because they are an exuberant member of xyz faith and they want to know if they’ll be seeing you in church soon. However they are not appropriate. If you are asked some of these questions you may want to seek legal counsel if you don’t get the job. So employers, to protect yourselves, have your questions written down and another person in the interview with you and don’t ask those type of questions.


There you have it, really good advice from the man I love.  Remember to be prepared, be interested, and be engaged. And try not to be too nervous!  What do you think, good advice? Have any tips to add? Feel free to comment below.

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