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Get the Most From a Job Interview

4 suggestions to help you find a better job

by Single Ma  |  3386 views  |  1 comment  |        Rate this now! 

Are you on the market for a new 9-to-5?

Do you dread the idea of updating your resume?

Do you hesitate to leave a comfortable (but unfulfilling) work environment for fear of the unknown?

Does the thought of interviewing make your stomach turn?

If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, I’m sure you also agree that looking for a new job is a job. It’s emotionally taxing, time consuming, and stressful. Therefore, once I decide to put myself on the market, I try to make use of all resources to find the best job match for my skills, career development, and quality of life. By putting forth the effort to seek multiple opportunities and being very selective when making a final decision, I hope to connect with a new employer that I can growth with for at least five or more years. To do this, I’ve put together four ways to get the most out of a job interview:

1.) Scratch the standard Q&A. If you’re beyond entry level, nothing important will be disclosed through standard Q&A. You must have a real “conversation” with the interviewers and observe/listen to the indirect communication. How do they interact with each other? When you ask a question, do they hesitate to answer? Do they look to the other person for an answer? Does the tone of their voice change when they answer? How does their body shift?

2.) Avoid pointed questions. If you frame a question, expect a cookie-cutter answer. Ask open-ended questions that require more than a yes or no. Ask questions that will generate discussion. For example: “Can you describe a typical workday for a [insert position you are interviewing for] at [insert company name or department]?” or “Can you describe the personality of your most successful [insert position you are interviewing for]?” or “If I had a chance to ask your most junior (or senior) [insert position you are interviewing for] how they like working here, what do YOU think he/she would say?” There’s nothing worse than a pregnant pause when a person thinks they’ve answered your question but you’re still not satisfied. If you need more information, ask follow up questions: “I’m not sure if I understand. Can you explain what you mean by ___?”

3.) Request a site visit/tour. The response to this may depend on the level of the position you are interviewing for and if they are seriously considering you as a candidate, but once you gain entry, observe how you are greeted, the way people interact with one another, or try talking to them. Assuming it isn’t busy season, if everyone is chained to their cubicle/office, barely glance, or speak when you walk past, take heed. Also, many higher level positions require follow-up interviews that may be held over a meal -- another opportunity to observe and listen.

About the Author

A working (single) mom and author of the personal finance blog Fabulous Financials @

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1 comment so far...

  • This is great advice. I so agree that the job interview is very much a two-way street. Candidates should definitely aim for a conversation and a personal connection, rather than expecting to recite stock answers to a list of questions. And it's always a good idea to come prepared with a list of talking points.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 26th February 2008