12 Interview Strategies

1. Use the CAR Method

  • The CAR Method helps guide you through three points to craft a thorough and compelling answer in your job interview. This method helps you provide context for your answer, highlight your skills and abilities, and demonstrate your impact.
  • In response to a question, address the following elements in this order: First, you will address Context. For context, you’ll want to state where you were working and what the goal was that you were trying to accomplish and what your purpose was in a particular role. Depending on the question, you can focus on the organization; its climate, size, the number of co-workers/employees, timing, interpersonal situations, etc.
  • “I was working in . . .”;” “ I was __________ in a ___[size of organization]_____”
  • Second, you will address Action. For action, you’ll want to address the work that you did and your responsibilities. Depending on the question, you can talk about your objective, job duties, your daily responsibilities, the tasks you accomplished and the involvement you had.
  • Third, you will address the Result. For the result, you will explain what the outcome was and what your impact was. As with your resume and cover letter, focus on numbers. How much? How many? What is the depth and volume of your impact?

2. Practice Interviewing

  • No matter what kind of interview you’re doing—in-person, phone, or online—you can do a mock interview with a friend or trusted colleague before your actual interview. While you may not be able to anticipate the exact questions you’ll be asked, by practicing what you’ll be asked to do and formulating answers to some common interview questions (see “What are they going to ask me?” in the FAQs) you will be better prepared to talk about the organization/company and your skills in a high-pressure situation.

3. Be prepared for other tasks during your interview

  • Depending on your field, you may be asked to perform other tasks during your interview (such as solving a coding problem in real time on a whiteboard or formulating a resolution to a conflict). You also may be asked more technical questions about your field or to give your critical opinion (for instance, "What is cobalt trading at today?" or "How could our marketing platform change to bring in a more diverse audience?").

4. Know the company and organization

  • If you’ve formulated a solid and engaging cover letter, you’ve probably already researched and identified why you’re a good fit for a company/organization and why you want to work for them. Go back to your research and notes to remind yourself about what the company’s main goals, ethics, and culture is. 

5. Know your resume

  • If you’ve been applying for many jobs and have multiple versions (in addition to a CV), you want to remind yourself what information you’ve shared via your resume with whatever employer you are interviewing with. Make sure to know your resume inside and out. Be confident in the information you have provided and in your experiences.

6. Study the job description

  • Again, if you crafted a compelling cover letter and resume, you’ve already done 90% of the work. Before your mock interviews and actual interview, go back and remind yourself of what the job is and what the employers are looking for.

7. Make eye contact

  • Be friendly. Be warm. Be present and make eye contact throughout the interview. 

8. Know Your Body language

  • Your body language will communicate much about your personality and your interest in the job.
  • Make sure to sit or stand up straight if possible. Keep your arms and legs uncrossed—try to remain open and confident.
  • Try not to fidget or play with your hair. Use moderate hand gestures. Place both of your feet on the ground.
  • Try to use your hands for moderate gestures. Keep them out of your pockets.
  • Practice good listening skills. Nod your head and make eye contact with whoever is interviewing you. Leaning in occasionally shows engagement with the interviewer and what they have to say.
  • Make sure to address everyone. If you have more than one person interviewing you or in the room, make sure to look everyone in the eye and acknowledge them.
  • This is why it is so important to do a mock interview (or even a few!) with a friend or colleague. It is normal to be nervous during your interview, but try to breathe and remain calm. Focus on building rapport through a firm handshake, smiling, and making eye contact.

9. Prepare for the unexpected

  • For sure bring extra copies of your resume in a portfolio (in addition to any other portfolio materials you may need to bring with you depending on your field)
  • In addition, you might want to bring: printed directions to the office, eye drops, a notepad, a bottle of water, cough drops, and pencil with you in a discrete bag to prepare for the unexpected. 

10. Only speak about past employers or professionals in the positive or don’t talk about them at all. 

  • In other words, don’t badmouth anyone you’ve worked with or for in the past. What this communicates to your potential employer is that if they hire you, then you may speak poorly about them in the future. If asked about your past, show gratitude about the experiences you’ve had in the past and the skills these experiences have helped you develop.
11. Make sure to have questions for the interviewer.
  • At the conclusion of the interview, the interviewers or interviewers will probably ask you if you have any questions. It is a good idea to have a few questions prepared to ask. You may have questions that have come up for you during the interview or during your job application. Regardless, asking questions at the conclusion of the interview is a good idea—it helps show your interest and learn more about the company.
  • This is not the time to ask about vacations or salary. If you are offered a second interview or the job itself, it is appropriate then to ask about such concerns.
  • If you aren’t sure what to ask, here are a few places to start:
    • What are the immediate objectives and challenges that face individuals in this role?
    • What is the typical career trajectory for someone in this position?
    • What is the timeline you’re looking at in hiring this position?
    • What are the organization’s/department’s/company’s goals over the next few years?
    • What would you consider to be the most important responsibilities of this position?
    • You can also ask questions targeted to the interviewer such as: “What’s your favorite part about working here?”
12. Send a Thank You note ASAP after the interview
  • You’ll want to send a handwritten note or e-mail to whoever interviewed you.
  • See our thank you note outline for guidance. 

Want to talk with someone confidentially about your job search or Dual Career Path preparation? Make an appointment with one of our Career Coaches today!