Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective Part 3 – Nailing The Interview

June 5, 2011


Top of the worldWoo hoo!  You got a job interview!  You know you are a perfect fit for the job, now you just need to convince the interviewers.  Easy, right?  Hold on.  I have interviewed a lot of people over the years and I keep seeing people make some simple mistakes.  So, to conclude the Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective series, here are some tips to really shine in a job interview.

  1. Do your research.  Thanks to the internet, there is really no excuse to not do your research on the company or the people you’re interviewing with.  Read through all of the company’s website and check out their major competitors.  If HR tells you in advance who you’re interviewing with, look up their profile on LinkedIn.  Knowing what is important to the company and to the interviewers will give you an idea of what questions you will be asked.
  2. Practice your elevator speech.  Almost every interview starts with “Tell me about yourself.”  Be prepared with a two to five-minute summary of your career and who you are.  We often use that summary as a starting point for the rest of the interview questions.
  3. Be prepared for the situational interview.  This is the most common interview style where we ask you to give specific examples of what you did in certain situations.  So, be prepared to talk about projects you are proud of and projects that did not go so well.  Often, we ask about how you have resolved conflicts or solve difficult problems.  If you are interviewing for a technical position, you definitely need to be prepared for the last one.   One of my favorite things to do is change a requirement or a parameter in a project that the candidate just described to me and then ask them how it would change the solution.  I am mostly interested in how the candidate thinks through the problem and solves it.
  4. Respect all interviewers equally.  This one still surprises me.  If you have more than one interviewer in the room, remember to address all interviewers equally.  That means you look the person who asked the question in the eye as you answer their question.  Some people have the habit of only looking at the person who answered the question.  Others make eye contact with all the interviewers while answering each question.  Either way is fine, just make sure you are paying equal attention to all interviewers.  No matter who you are interviewing with, respect them the same way you would the hiring manager.
  5. Don’t forget to interview the interviewer.  Almost all interviews conclude with: “Do you have any questions?”  Be sure to take that time and ask specific questions about the company or the interviewers.  You are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you.  You need to be sure that you will also like the job and the environment.  Plus, asking good questions shows that you have done your research.
  6. Be honest.  Just like all the other steps in the hiring process, it is important to be honest with yourself and the interviewers.  It prevents unpleasant surprises later.

If you have any tips or horror stories from the interview process, I would love to read them in the comments!

Update: To read more tips on succeeding in the hiring process, please read my other posts on the subject:

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About Liza Wood

After a dozen years leading video game development projects in a variety of roles, I decided to pursue a Master of Data Science at the University of British Columbia. Studying data science doesn’t mean I’m moving away from leading people. Growing data science teams need collaborative, pragmatic, Agile leadership to connect data to all areas of the business. I would like to share that point of view, along with my experiences, on this blog.

View all posts by Liza Wood

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8 Comments on “Hiring From A Manager’s Perspective Part 3 – Nailing The Interview”

  1. Bruno Champoux Says:

    You forgot this:

    7. Find if the interviewer has a weakness for cats and keep plenty of cat pictures on your cell phone.

    Seriously, if you feel confident, after several discussions, that you can “social engineer” the interviewer, you can leave a positive impression. It has to be done in the most respectful manner however, you don’t want it to blow in your face.

    I’ve done only 3 rounds of interviews in my life, but everytime I nailed a job, I happened to have created a connection with the interviewer that was not work-related. Coincidence?


    • Liza Says:

      That’s an excellent tip. It sort of goes along the lines of “Do your research”, but sometimes it’s just luck when you connect with the interviewer(s). As long as you have sincere substance behind the social engineering, it’s a winning situation.

      I have had a few cases where I connected with a candidate but I did not offer a job. Either another candidate was more skilled, or in one case, I had to cut the job.


  2. Akanksh Vashisth Says:

    On a lighter note for the interviewer 🙂

    Avoid employing unlucky people – throw half of the pile of CVs in the bin without reading them. – David Brent “The Office” (2001)

    I believe an extension of “Be Honest” should be “Know yourself”, as I have seen way too many people regarding themselves as experts in fields that they know little about (makes me think the Dunning–Kruger effect might have something in it!).

    I personally have also made the same mistake, and its very difficult to find a midway between “I know a lot” and “I know nothing” (I am currently in the latter category…). I believe, as you learn, you realize the gaps in your knowledge and then depending on the person you are, you build on that new found information. Everyone reacts to truth differently, some people face it upfront and look to improve, some just say, “I have a job, I am doing well where I am, I don’t need to change anything”. Its the second group that I as an interviewer look to avoid.



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