Getting Ready For Your Big Interview Part 2


Previously in the post “Getting Ready For Your Big Interview“, we discussed elements of interview preparation including what to wear, what to bring, what to do in the three days before the interview, and more.  Here, we continue with advice on how to prepare for your big interview, and then go over what to do after the interview is done.

Special Considerations for Out-of-Town Interviews

While preparation for the actual interview is basically the same, there are several before and after aspects to consider when preparing for an out-of-town interview.


Interviewing When You Work Full Time

When you work 40+ hours a week, it can be hard to job hunt and interview for a new job, especially when you don’t want your current employer to know about it. Here are a few thoughts to consider when in this situation.



The STAR Technique of Answering Questions

One of the most common ways an interviewer judges the quality of a candidate’s future performance is through behavioral interviewing. In this approach, questions are asked concerning past experiences in order to evaluate one’s skills, abilities, and behaviors. For example, an interviewer may ask the following types of questions:


When asked this type of question in an interview, make sure to listen carefully so that you clearly understand the question before answering. Take 5-8 seconds to plan your answer, and then give your response in 3 minutes or less. This should be long enough to answer thoroughly without dragging it out and losing the interviewer’s interest.  The interviewer will likely ask more questions about your experience.  Respond to these questions with brief, concise answers.


The STAR technique to answering questions is a way to form your response in a clear and organized manner.

Situation: First describe the background of the story. Give the context the interviewer needs to understand your experience.

Task: Tell about the challenge you were facing and what needed to be resolved.

Action: Explain the action you took to resolve the task at hand.

Results: Describe what you accomplished, how those around you responded, what you learned, etc. If applicable, use specific numbers and stats to illustrate your success.

3 provides this example of using the STAR technique to answering the question, “Have you ever had to define yourself in the midst of criticism, and did you succeed?”


Using this technique will help you better impress employers by demonstrating your qualifications through clear, personal stories.  Practice answering interview questions in this kind of format.

Write a Post-Interview Thank You Note

While the majority of job candidates do not write a post-interview thank you, writing a short but well-written thank you email could only help your chances.  Worst-case scenario, the thank you is ignored and deleted.  Best-case scenario, it impresses the employer, makes you stand out, and shows communication skills, courtesy, sincere interest, and enthusiasm.


What To Include


Make It Short But Well-Written


Who And When


Here is a sample thank you email you can use as a template for your own:

Dear Mr. Johnson [Mr./Ms. Last Name],

Thank you for taking the time [yesterday/today] to speak with me about the third grade teacher opening [job title] and to interview me for the job.  It was a pleasure meeting you and learning more about Lillie B. Haynes Elementary School [name of company/organization], and I am enthusiastic about the possibility of teaching there [enthusiasm about possibly obtaining the position].

After our conversation, I am confident that my previous teaching experience has qualified and prepared me with the classroom management skills, enthusiasm, and teamwork and collaboration skills that the LBH third grade team and students need [reiterate why you are the best candidate for the job].  As we discussed, I agree it is critical for teachers to collaborate and work well together in order for the students to receive the best education possible and for the school to be run smoothly with unnecessary obstacles.  I am positive that I would be an asset to the third grade team and would work to help unify the staff and avoid unnecessary conflicts, as have unfortunately been an issue for you in the past [refer to something specific/important from your conversation].

I am very excited about this position and look forward to hearing back from you.  Do not hesitate to contact me if you need further information.  I hope you enjoy the Giants game this weekend—let’s hope Bumgarner throws twelve strikeouts again! [refer to something you “connected” with the interviewer about]

Best regards,

Lucie Larsen

[LinkedIn Profile URL]

[Phone number]

Following Up After the Interview

Don’t stress if you don’t hear back right away—employers are often delayed in the hiring process for reasons beyond the candidates.  However, if you were told you’d hear back by Monday and you still haven’t heard anything by Wednesday, do a positive follow up with the employer. Make a quick phone call or send a polite email asking where they are in the hiring process (without sounding accusatory or pushy). If you don’t get a reply, try again in a few days.


What to Do if You Totally Messed Up

Doing poorly in an interview often leads to feelings of insecurity and negativity. Some mistakes might not be fixable. HOWEVER, trying can’t hurt. Sometimes interviewers are willing to overlook mistakes if you have skills and abilities that would be really valuable to the company.

If you totally mess up the interview, try to patch things up a little through the follow-up. When you get in contact with the employer again, founder of Career Confidential Peggy McKee says, “Tell them you’re going to provide them with additional resources,” such as references, further examples of your work, or documentation of your abilities.


You could also address your obvious blunders in your post-interview thank you note. If you were distracted because of a personal issue going on outside of work, let the interviewer know. Acknowledge your mistakes without making excuses, and possibly write a quick apology (use your judgment if your interview flaws merit saying sorry). However, only include the things the interviewer definitely noticed. You don’t want to bring up something small that could have gone unnoticed, only to bring that to the interviewer’s attention and lessen your chances even more. Click here to read 10 avoidable mistakes that could bomb an interview.

Most importantly, learn from your experience! No interview is a waste if you can take something away from it that will make your better. Jacquelyn Smith from says, “Don’t wallow in self-pity or allow the bad interview to be an excuse for not following-up or not interviewing for a while. Instead, ask yourself what you would do differently to prepare next time; figure out what information you should have had that you didn’t; and think about how you would handle a difficult question next time.”


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