8 ball in the corner pocket - at work
March 26, 2006 1:24 PM   Subscribe

Have you aced an interview? How'd you do it?
posted by vers to Work & Money (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Hard to tell if you "ace" a work interview, unless you're told specifically afterwards that was the case. You either get the job or you don't. When I think I've done well, it was usually because I had prepared answers for questions I thought I'd get, because I had a long list of questions of my own to ask, and because I made explicit connections between the employers' needs and my own background and experience.

When I knew I "failed" an interview, it was because the hiring manager looked and sounded so much like Christopher Walken that I freaked out -- I literally could not put thoughts together. I had to leave the room at one point, feigning thirst. If that helps.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 1:53 PM on March 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

SSF is right; chances are, especially in a large organization, that no particular person you interview with has unilateral control over whether you get hired. So it would look pretty bad if someone told you that you aced an interview if there's even a remote possibility that you haven't gotten the job.

Ask lots of questions. Know your shit, and engage in conversation. You'll be surprised at how infrequently you get asked all the stereotypical "interview questions." And if you seem like an interesting, engaging person, there's no need for them to ask those BS questions in the first place.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 2:01 PM on March 26, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you both. Pre-interview jitters today. In-house position. I am uniquely well-qualified, and have an excellent working relationship with the department involved. However, the full process will be in place; resume (submitted last week) and multiple interviews. I am lookng for confidence building stories - I hope some of you can share. Oh, what to wear?
posted by vers at 2:06 PM on March 26, 2006

One interview I "failed" (but was still offered the job, go figure) involved a manager that looked and sounded almost exactly like Bill Lumberg from Office Space - it was very disconcerting and off-putting.

Usually, when I "ace" an interview, it's because the interviewer and I have a conversation - I feel personable and like a good listener, and I ask intelligent questions about the company.
posted by muddgirl at 2:16 PM on March 26, 2006

Confidence counts for a lot (And fake confidence is fine!) Know your shit, know the company and what they are looking for, and act like the job is yours. Be approachable and ask them lots of questions about the company, but questions that show you have done your research. Your hygiene should be impeccable. Don't smell of cigarette smoke. Good luck!
posted by LarryC at 2:24 PM on March 26, 2006

Lying through your teeth helps. I've ruined several interviews just by being honest.
posted by psychobum at 2:43 PM on March 26, 2006

I've aced two interviews, got through on some and failed others.

On the ones I aced, quite simply I got on with the people and was very well suited to the job and gave the answers that were true, described how I was suitable and that twigged what the interviewers wanted to hear (that was learnt later in both cases when talking to people).

Interviews are not perfect, but sometimes they work really well, including some of the cases where I 'failed' the interview, where the interviews and I didn't get on and I probably wouldn't have been suitable for the job.
posted by sien at 2:53 PM on March 26, 2006

I have. The interviewer was thinking about bringing me to work in the US. I told him I was going to go whether he brought me over or not and generally spoke as if I'd already gotten the job.
I think he liked my pushy/proactive stance, because he picked me from about 30 applicants.
posted by skree at 2:54 PM on March 26, 2006

I've aced a couple, and one of my previous jobs involved hiring/firing, so I've also been on the other side of the table from people both acing and failing miserably. Aside from the obvious (well-groomed, prepared to answer questions, having at least a basic understanding of the company, etc.), I've found that the single best skill someone can have in an interview (aside from job skills, of course) is being able to read the tone of the interview and interviewer and adjust him/herself accordingly. Display adaptability. Being able to relax and crack the odd appropriate witticism (if that's "you", and if the interviewer isn't a stuffed shirt), being approachable and open but also reassuringly responsible and taking your job seriously, basically being able to fit in. Because (in most office-type jobs, anyway) what they're really looking for is someone who will fit in well with the group they already have. A good skillset is all well and good, but it's useless if the person who has that skillset is an asshole who makes everyone around him tense and unable to work together well.
posted by biscotti at 3:13 PM on March 26, 2006 [2 favorites]

The interviews I've aced, I've prepared answers to expected questions and rehearsed well. I've also keyed in on certain buzzwords I want to use and prepared questions for the interviewer about the company and why I should work there. Basically, I interview them as well. They want to hear you're interested in the company, their mission, their vision and the challenges. Admittedly, where you're interviewing in-house, this could be different.

The interview I know I failed, I just didn't have my heart in it. I got in the door and realized I had stepped through a wormhole into 1970 just from their waiting area. That, and from the tour and the people, I knew I just wasn't interested. They sort of failed my interview at that point.

I bought a couple books on interviewing. I was checking out the job market, looking to move on and needed some refreshers. I recommend "How to Interview Like a Top MBA" and "201 Best Questions To Ask On Your Interview" They detail different interview scenarios and how to handle them. If time doesn't permit waiting out a book order, you can also Google search out "Interview Questions" and "Questions to ask an interviewer" etc and get at least a primer on preparing.

Also, for acing the interview -- eye contact, eye contact, eye contact. And I throw in a knowing nod or pleasant smile a lot too, especially if you get someone who is rambling on. Occasionally, I pretend I'm doing the interview portion of Miss America, faking up some extraordinary confidence and poise... you know, except without the toupee tape keeping my outfit on.
posted by jerseygirl at 4:03 PM on March 26, 2006 [4 favorites]

The opposite of psychobum, I've aced interviews by being honest. I don't try to bull my way through but try to give straightforward answers the best that I can. If I don't know something, I'll say, "I don't know that but here's how I would go about finding it out." I'm a really shitty liar and also have no interest in trying to get anything by deceit. If you're trying to lie, you won't be relaxed and comfortable because you'll be too worried about trying to keep your story strait. Also, stop in the mens/womens room right before the interview and check your fly/hair/teeth/etc so that you won't be worried about such things during the interview.
posted by octothorpe at 4:04 PM on March 26, 2006

Well this might not help you in this situation, but maybe for future interviews. Go on a lot of interviews. Apply for jobs you might only be marginally interested in. Sometimes good jobs are poorly worded in the ad and it might be something you are interested in but you don't know that until you know more about the job. The second thing you get out of it is the practice. If it's a job you don't really care about getting, you relax a little bit and sharpen your interview skills. No two interviews are the same. The practice will help you relax when you are interviewing for the job your really do want. I've had two job offers that came out of these kinds of situations, where I wasn't interested in the job I interviewed for, but they kept me in mind when something else became available. Nice!

Be gracious if you are offered one of the jobs you don't want, you never know when you might encounter those folks again or in what capacity.
posted by 45moore45 at 4:30 PM on March 26, 2006

I have overwhelmingly done well in interviews (I've been offered a position for all but two jobs I've interviewed for.). It's good to memorize answers to the "most asked" questions. But because interviewers are moving more toward behavior-based questions, I find that this trick works the best:

Think of five adjectives to describe your professional self (conscientious, hard-working, etc.). Then connect at least one situation or work experience to each adjective...a situation that demonstrates you are indeed conscientious, hard-working, whatever. You can pretty much answer any question they throw at you using this technique. It's good because you can easily get across whatever image you want to present to the interviewer and be able back your shit up.
posted by lunalaguna at 5:08 PM on March 26, 2006 [5 favorites]

I think the key is to be prepared, but not too prepared. In other words, you need to have ideas ready for typical questions, have done your research about the company, and have a few questions to ask them, but you need to be ready to stray from your canned answers and ideas to go with the flow of the interview.
posted by purplevelvet at 5:10 PM on March 26, 2006

I am friends with the people who interviewed me for my last position. They liked my enthusiasm for the job and the fact that I paused to think about things before I answered, ostensibly to think before I spoke. Of course, I'd memorized answers, but I do think it's good to pause for dramatic effect from time to time.

One thing that goes over badly, at least in my profession is boasting, and sure fire cockiness. I am always clear that I think I am good for the job, and that I hope that I am the best who applies. We turfed someone from our place of work for continually talking about how she was the best and would get the job because she had a PhD. Remember, you don't know who you are going up against.

It sounds like you are in a good position. Being calm and collected, but not boastful should be a good stategy. GOod luck.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 5:38 PM on March 26, 2006

It helps if you're at a company that's the right fit for you. I think I impressed my boss at the interview for my internship last year, she hired me on the spot. It was in the development dept of a local animal shelter / human society, and I'm an animal lover / mba student so it was the perfect job for me.

Honest enthusiasm and knowledge about the company is key.
posted by radioamy at 6:16 PM on March 26, 2006

I had examples and achievements to back up every single assertion that I made. So should you.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:57 PM on March 26, 2006 [1 favorite]

As far as what to wear - look around at what the interviewers are wearing to work everyday, and take your cue from them. Try to wear an outfit that matches theirs, or is slightly more formal. Just make sure that everything fits you, and if you aren't used to heels, practice!

You'll do fine! At least you don't have to worry about who these people are that are interviewing you. You probably already know them, or can at least find out about them. That's a huge advantage over someone coming in to the interview without that knowledge.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 8:02 PM on March 26, 2006

be friendly and focus on your professional experience. don't talk too much about your personal life. know about the company and position. answer questions first and then explain...don't take too long to get the answer.
posted by BigBrownBear at 4:26 AM on March 27, 2006

LISTEN. I've interviewed people who are so eager to prove themselves they were not listening to the questions at all. I consider that the kiss of death. Recently I interview a guy who not only didn't listen to my questions, he literally monologued for almost 40 minutes. It was insane, especially since he was actually qualified for the position and I started off the interview thinking he would be one of the stronger candidates.
posted by miss tea at 4:40 AM on March 27, 2006

As said above- answer succintly. Ask questions that show your understanding of the job, and what the difficulties might be. Never interrrupt, never give vague answers. If you don't know the answer to a question, think about it and tell them how you would go about finding the answer. Build a repor with the interviewer- let them talk if they want to, but be sure that you're making your presence felt (laugh along, nod, agree, interject politely).
Indeed, confidence does go a long way.

I've aced an interview doing all of the above. It helped that I already knew I was a great fit, but I found out later that the questions I asked were what moved me into the 'sure hire' category.
posted by Four Flavors at 9:31 AM on March 27, 2006

« Older How would you track down someone from an online...   |   My kingdom for a cannoli! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.