The Interview Process & Strategy: Be focused and well-prepared
Our mission at Summit Professional Search, Inc. is to make sure your background and career interests are an excellent match
with the position you are considering. Half the battle in identifying a “perfect opportunity” is understanding the position and the
philosophy of the hiring company. We will do our best to make sure that your background and goals mesh with the hiring
Your recruiter will help you prepare for initial phone interviews and in-person interviews. Many people are uncomfortable in an
interview situation because they feel they will be judged harshly by their interviewer or they will not be able to adequately answer
questions. Your recruiter can help you identify your concerns about this potentially stressful situation and provide solutions.
Your recruiter will also help you prepare in advance, with information about the company and the position. We can also do a
mock interview, which helps smooth out answers.
What the interviewer observes during the interview is an indication to them of what kind of employee, team
player and contributor you will be. For the interview, be well-prepared, with the overall goal of a job offer.
To prepare for your interview, obtain as much information about the hiring company as you can. Visit the company website.
See how this company positions itself. Ask your recruiter for information about the company and position. Your ability to speak
about the industry, your niche and the company demonstrates to the interviewer that you have a serious interest in the position.
It also allows you to have an in-depth conversation.
Verify the time, date and location of your interview (especially important if there is a time zone difference), as well as the names
and titles of interviewer(s). Your recruiter will make sure you have this information.
Arrive about 15 minutes early. We suggest that you bring two extra copies of your resume. If you are running late, call your
recruiter so she can alert the company for you. After the interview, ask each interviewer for a business card, so you can
follow up with a Thank You email.
Dress conservatively. If you are in doubt about the dress code, ask your recruiter for suggestions.
Types of Interviews
Interviews are often a combination of behavioral and problem-solving questions.
There are four types of questions that interviewers ask.
• Behavioral interviewers like to know how you respond to different stimuli, especially how you perceive stress.
They will ask you about certain actions you took in the past, or require that you explore hypothetical scenarios.
Questions to expect in a behavioral interview would be: “Describe a situation in which you ...” or “Tell me about a time when you...”
• Resume questions. These relate to your past experience, skills, job responsibilities, education, upbringing, personal interests,
and so forth. Resume questions require accurate, objective answers, since your resume consists of facts which tend to be
quantifiable (and verifiable).
• Interviewers will usually want you to comment on your abilities, or assess your past performance. They’ll ask you to critique
yourself with questions like, “What do you think is your greatest asset?” or, “Can you tell me something you’ve done that was
• Some employers like to test you with stress questions such as, “After you die, what would you like your epitaph to read?”
or, “If you were to compare yourself to any great leader, who would it be any why?” or, “Why should we be talking?”
Think about how to present yourself
What have you accomplished at your previous positions? Your interviewer is assessing your skills, personality and attitude
toward problems, and how you will contribute and fit in. No matter how impressive your resume, it is equally important to make
a good “connection” with the hiring manager and other interviewers. Let the company know what you bring to the table and how
your skills can be beneficial to their needs. Your own stories can be very powerful illustrations to the interviewer of your
achievements and skills.
You should have several personal stories that you can tell as examples of your successes, and each story should last between
30 to 90 seconds. Think of these as concise “commercials” about your skills, personality and career.
You should start by developing your stories around these areas:
• Examples of when you either created a revenue stream or saved money for your current or previous employer.
• A crisis in your life or job and how you responded or recovered from it.
• A time where you functioned as part of a team and what your contribution was.
• A time in your career or job where you had to overcome stress.
• A time in your job where you provided successful leadership or a sense of direction.
• A failure that occurred in your job, how you overcame it and what you learned from it.
• Any seminal events that happened during your career to cause you to change direction and how that worked out for you.
Typical questions posed by the Interviewer
• What do you know about our company?
• Why are you looking to leave your current employer?
• Where do you see yourself five years from now?
• What would you like to achieve at this company?
• What do you consider your strengths? Weaknesses?
• What motivates you?
• Why should we hire you?
• How would you rate your organization skills? Presentation skills?
• Do you work best alone or with a team?
• What do you like most about your current company?
• What do you like least about your current company?
Preparing for interview questions
Anticipate the questions that might be asked. What skills are most useful in the job? Look at the job description for ideas.
What have you listed on your resume as a skill, achievement, or responsibility that would prompt someone to ask you about it?
How do the job description and your resume dovetail?
Your recruiter will ask to schedule some time prior to the interview to help you prepare. This is valuable practice for the real
interview, and the recruiter can give you important insights into the company culture and the personality of the team and
Every conversation you have at the company matters. From your first phone screen interview to your last in-person interview,
the company’s goal is to gather information and see what your energy level is. Everyone you meet, from the Receptionist
to the CEO is assessing you.
The employer will be looking at your communication and reasoning skills. Body language is a very important factor during the
interview process. Stand up straight, offer a firm handshake and make eye contact. Make sure your answer addresses the
It is perfectly acceptable to think before you speak. The interviewer wants to get a sense of your communication style.
Your style of answering will reveal much about your confidence level, how easily you feel pressure, your communication skills
and your approach to finding solutions
Why you are leaving your current employer?
Tell your interviewer why you are interested in the position. You may choose to say that you weren’t actively looking, and your
recruiter called with this intriguing opportunity and you wanted to explore it. Never say anything negative about a former company
or boss. It is fine to say that you are interested in a more challenging role, or that you are seeking a positive, team-oriented
environment, or that you prefer a position without supervisory responsibilities. If there is an issue that concerns you, strategize
with your recruiter on how to best address the problem. The way you deal with leaving a negative situation is an important
indicator to your potential employer of your attitude toward problems.
Ask your own questions and always be positive!
Your questions will help the interviewer tell you more about the position and what type of things they are looking for in an ideal
candidate. These answers will provide you information that you can use to present your strengths. It will also give you insight
into how problems and questions are handled at the company.
Below are some of the areas you will need to understand in order to determine your interest in the company and position:
• The requirements of the job, the challenges of the role and what a typical day/week would look like.
• Team members
• Leadership style
• Why the job is open or why has it been created, and the growth potential
• What is the forecasted growth for the company?
• The culture of the company
• How is success in this position measured?
Don’t bring up the subject of compensation yourself. If you are asked about your compensation goals, it is best to answer simply,
“I am confident that you would make me a fair and equitable offer. I am interested in what I can learn and contribute.” If the
interviewer insists on an answer, explain what your current salary, bonus and benefits package is, and indicate again your belief
that the company will make a fair offer. Your recruiter will help you if negotiating an offer is necessary.
Close the deal! Tell your interviewer you are interested and …ask for the job!
Many people feel uncomfortable or pushy asking for a job. There is nothing pushy or obnoxious about telling the interviewer
that you have enjoyed meeting them and would like to contribute to the company. Ask what the next steps will be. Asking for the
job also indicates to the employer how you will deal with the company’s’ clients. If this makes you uncomfortable, strategize
with your recruiter before the interview to find the right words to use.
Send an email Thank You after the interview
The “Thank You” email is one of the most important parts of the interview process. It is another indication of how you will
conduct business. Send a separate email to each person who interviewed you. Try to make each one a little different.
The recipients of these emails may compare notes!
• A good subject line would be: “Thank you for your time ” or “Thank you for meeting with me” or “I enjoyed meeting you.”
• Thank you emails should be sent within 24 hours of the interview.
• The first paragraph should include a general appreciation for the interview
• Within the second paragraph discuss briefly what you can bring to the table.
• End with a final thank you, a positive statement and indicate your eagerness for the next step in the interview process.
After the interview, contact your recruiter and let her know how things went. Summit Professional Search, Inc.
will keep you updated about next steps. Please call or email the office any time to check on feedback. Of course,
we will do our best to update you as promptly as possible.