Tips for Before, During, and After an Interview

April 15, 2024

Before the interview

Practice, practice, practice. It’s one of the best ways to get more confident and comfortable interviewing. A few tips for practicing:

  • Try to turn off your inner critic and answer as authentically as possible.

  • Review your answers from the perspective of an interviewer. Which parts of your answer capture the things you'd want an interviewer to know about you? Which parts feel less relevant?

  • Think about the main ways you’d want to improve your answers. Then try answering again with those improvements in mind.

  •  Identify which questions feel the most challenging. Practicing those will help you learn the fastest.

  • Most importantly, keep practicing. It’s okay if it feels hard. That means you’re improving.

Ask yourself a few questions and try to answer them as authentically as possible:

  • How would you describe yourself?

  • In what areas are you talented?

  • What are examples of times you’ve used those talents?

  • How have your talents helped you succeed in different areas of your life?

  • What do you think are your most recurring weaknesses?

  • How do you deal with those weaknesses?

  • What do you visualize for your career?

  • What would be your top priorities in your next role?

Take some time to research the company, its culture, the team, and the role. You can use resources such as the company website,
social media, news articles, and websites with reviews from former employees.

Think about how your talents in your last role could be helpful in this new role.

Prepare questions for your interviewer by thinking critically about your expectations for the role.

Make sure your technology is set up correctly.

If you use any assistive technologies, set them up ahead of time. If you need any other accommodations, ask your interviewer in advance.

Try to find a quiet, decluttered space. Make sure the light is in front of you and center your camera so others can see you. Be careful using backgrounds as they can be disruptive.

Take a few moments to focus and get comfortable. Listen to your favorite song, meditate, or just take a few deep breaths.

Arrive on time!

During the interview

Listen carefully to each question. It’s okay to take a moment to gather your thoughts before you answer.

If you’re unsure about what’s being asked, ask your interviewer to clarify.

Emphasize your skills and accomplishments. Let the interviewer know what your strengths are and what excites you.

Don’t be afraid to highlight what’s great about yourself.

Be yourself. It’s important to be honest and authentic in every answer, even if that means expressing dislike for some activities. Not everything has to be positive.

When answering questions like “Why did you leave your last job?” don’t speak badly of your former boss, team, or company. Focus on what you learned from difficult situations and how you grew.

It’s okay to feel nervous. Instead of letting nerves distract you, think of what’s actually happening in your body: your systems are going into overdrive to supercharge your body and brain for peak performance.

After the interview

Thank your interviewers for their time.

You can ask your interviewers for their email addresses if you’d like to follow up with additional questions or information, or just to send a thank-you note.

In case you don’t get your interviewer's contact info, you can ask your recruiter for it or find it on professional networking sites.

Be sure to personalize any notes you send afterwards. Reiterate why you’re interested in the role and mention something memorable from the interview, whether it was a funny moment or something your interviewer shared about themself.

Ask your interviewer about next steps in the recruitment process.


Tips for answering specific types of questions

Behavioral questions

Behavioral questions are designed to see how you’ve used your skills to handle challenging situations in previous roles, and how you would use those skills to handle future situations.

For clarity, structure each answer with a beginning, middle, and end.

If it helps you, try using the STAR method to structure your responses:

Situation: Describe the situation you were in, along with some context and background information.

Task: Describe what was required of you.

Action: Describe what you did, how you did it, and the tools you used.

Result: Describe what your action(s) accomplished.

Practice sharing a mix of “success” and “failure” stories. You could be asked to provide both.

Try to demonstrate skills that are relevant to the new role (e.g. adaptability, problem-solving, ownership, teamwork).

Technical questions

Technical questions are designed to see how you think. Hiring managers want to see you demonstrate thoughtfulness and adaptability when finding solutions.

Be prepared for different styles of technical questions. Your interviewer may give you a scenario and ask you to talk through it from start to finish, or they may ask you to go one step at a time, giving you more information after each step.

As you answer, tell the interviewer exactly what you’re thinking and why. Whenever you make an assumption, tell your interviewer why you made that call.

Consider these steps for answering a technical question:

Identify the problem by asking exploratory questions. What happened before this issue occurred? What does the problem look like?

Evaluate the problem by considering the potential causes. Share your thoughts aloud as you do.

Think of possible solutions based on your prior knowledge. Mention resources you might use to look up solutions.

Present your solutions in the order you'd try them in. Always put the simplest solution first.

Implement your solutions. If you aren’t directly responsible for implementing the solution, clearly describe the instructions you’d give to someone else.

Test your solution. Explain how you’d ensure your solution works.

Background questions

Background questions are designed to help an interviewer understand more about your training, experience, and why you want to work in this role.

When answering broad questions like “Tell me about yourself,” consider structuring your answers in terms of the present, past, and future. Start with the present, talking about your current role, the scope of it, and a recent accomplishment you’ve had. Then speak to the past, explaining how you got to your current role, and any other previous experience that’s relevant to the role you’re applying for. Finally, segue to the future and say what you’re looking to do next and how this role would help you achieve that.

Research can help answer questions like “Why do you want to work here?” Re-read the job description and think about which aspects are interest and excite you. Look at the company’s website and social media to get a better sense of their values and how they align with yours.

Be true to yourself. Be honest about what you want and don’t want from the role. Don’t focus solely on your experiences and accolades. Think about your talents and passions too.