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Interviewing Tips 

Your calling is calling.

You have already gotten the phone call “We would like to schedule an interview…" now what? Being prepared for an interview is vital; the following preparation is very unique and effective in conducting a positive interview.

Preparing for the interview.

The more prepared you are, the easier it will be for you to stand out against other candidates.

The telephone interview.

In most cases a company will choose to have a brief telephone interview with a candidate before setting up a personal interview. Telephone screens offer an introduction to the firm, responsibilities of the job and technical skills needed without taking too much of either person's time. Telephone interviews can be difficult since the conversation is not backed up by personal presentation and expressions. Therefore, it is important to keep a few things in mind when preparing for the call.


Always sound alert and interested.

Enthusiasm will increase your chances of being invited for an in-house interview. One of the most often received objections regarding a candidate is, “We couldn’t determine if he/she was interested or not."

Eliminate background noise and interruptions.

You will seem unprofessional or inattentive if the caller can hear your television, radio, children, computer keyboard, etc. Turn off your call waiting! Try to make your environment sound as quiet as possible to appear 100% focused on the call. In anticipation of receiving potential voice mails, it is important to have an updated, polished, professional message announcement.

Be prepared.

Keep your resume, appointment book and a list of questions you have close at hand during the conversation. Have pre-written and concise answers to common and difficult questions. A pre-written and rehearsed response is always better than thinking off the top of your head. Never portray a previous employer in a negative light as it reflects negatively on you!

Examples of common tough questions:

  • Research the company.
    - Review and study information from company website. Look especially for information about products, competitors, and news releases. Fill in any gaps with help from your recruiter.
  • Understand the job role.
    - Talk to your recruiter to know what position and type of person the prospective employer looking for ideally so you can tailor your presentation to better fit their needs.

  • Prepare 10 questions about the company.
    - Most interviewers will give you the chance to ask questions at the end of an interview. Many general questions will be answered throughout interview, so making sure you prepare 10 instead of just 2 or 3 shows your interest and highlights that you are prepared.

  • Be ready to answer the phone at the scheduled time.

  • Your qualifications have earned you this interview; it´s how well your personality shows that will earn you the job!

Give concise answers.

Think of questions that might be asked and formulate your answers accordingly. Make sure to give enough detail but don't go off track.

Ask questions.

Show your interest in the opportunity by asking questions that are focused on the position. When given the opportunity, ask a thoughtful, pre-prepared question to show your interest. Don’t go overboard and turn it into an interrogation session so limit yourself to 1 or 2 maximum to make sure the interview stays on focus. Do not ask about salary or benefits. A telephone interview is not the time to discuss those issues.

Inquire about the next step.

At the end of the conversation ask what the next step will be. Express your interest in further pursuing the opportunity! Closing The Interview:

Close firmly and confidently.

The hiring manager will likely say they will get back to you. Most hiring managers want to hire a person who is confident that they can meet the requirements of the position. If comfortable, I recommend a very strong close:

"I know that I can add value to your organization as a <position> and I am anxious to join <company>. Do you have any concerns that would prevent me meeting you face to face for an interview?"

If positive response, schedule the next meeting. If non-committal, it may not be a bad sign, just a hiring manager whose style is not to address it at the interview.

Email follow-ups.

At some point in this process whether it is at this early stage or later when thank you letters are sent, it is imperative that your emails look and sound professional. Your email address should not contain any “cute" nicknames or verbiage. Though industry acronyms might be the norm, Internet abbreviations are not. With the advent of Spell check, there is no excuse for misspelled words!

After the interview:

As soon as you are off the phone with the hiring manager, call your recruiter in order to discuss the interview while it is fresh in your mind. Be specific on questions asked, impressions felt, personality fit, and how the interview ended.

  • Send a thank you note.
  • Stay in contact with your recruiter.
  • Be ready to answer the phone at the scheduled time.
  • Your recruiter will be contacting the hiring manager and determining what the next stage of the process will be (hopefully to set up the face to face interview!).

  • The Personal Interview

    You've been invited into a firm for a personal interview. Again, preparation will be the key to appearing confident and ready. With a little effort and focus you will leave a positive and lasting impression.

    Project an enthusiastic personality.

    Once a candidate has undergone a series of screening and preliminary reviews, it is said that the hiring decision is predicated on 50% ability and 50% personality. In today’s marketplace one could easily argue that it is closer to 20% ability and 80% personality. One can assume that once this level is reached that all the candidates being considered have the qualifications to do the job at hand.

    Know where you are going and be on time.

    Your prompt arrival indicates courtesy and a commitment to your profession. Making sure you know where you are going in advance will alleviate any nervousness about traffic and potential miscalculations of time and location. There is rarely a good excuse for being tardy to any business meeting. Get there at least 15 minutes early!

    Dress professionally.

    A first impression is the strongest impression and often it is the last impression. Even if a firm has a casual dress code, you should dress conservatively, preferably in a suit. Remember it is an official interview and physical impressions, even if they may be irrelevant to the job, are a major factor in the decision process. A dark suit, pressed white shirt and conservative tie is recommended. Make sure your socks match your shoes. Make sure your shoes are shined. Get a haircut if possible to promote a professional look. Do not eat, drink, or smoke prior to your interview. Why risk spilling anything, having food in your teeth, or smelling like your last meal or smoke when you are trying to make the most positive impression on a possible new career?

    Smile and be polite to everyone you meet. Be courteous to the receptionist, etc as you never know who has a say in the decision making process. A genuine smile will leave a positive impression while any rude remark will forever be remembered negatively.

    Know your subject.

    Do some basic research on the firm. With the advent of the Internet, company information is readily available. Having knowledge of the company demonstrates your intent and enthusiasm.

    Know whom you will be meeting with.

    Make a list of those individuals that you will be meeting with. Get proper spelling and pronunciation of names, titles and contact information. This will not only help during the interview process, but when you follow up with thank you communiqués later.

    Brush up on your skill set.

    Review as much of your recent and past work experience as you can. This will help you to recover lost details and facilitate your recall of them during the interview.

    Let the interviewer talk.

    Be courteous to the interviewers and let them take the lead, especially early in the meeting. Some interviewers have a set agenda/list of questions they have to get through. Ask your questions when related issues are addressed by the interviewer or at the end when the interviewer asks if you have any questions.

    Stress measurable accomplishments.

    Always remember to market yourself to the best of your ability. Particularly if the position was listed on the Internet job boards, what differentiates you from the other 200+ candidates they have reviewed?

    Ask good questions.

    Be sure to ask questions relating to business issues and operational procedures in addition to questions that will address the factors on your wish list. Interviewers are impressed with candidates who show knowledge and interest in the position and organization.

    Ask indirect or open-ended questions.

    These question start with how, what, when, why, where and cannot be answered with a simple, non-engaging yes or no.

    Ask them to describe the ideal candidate.

    Make a concerted effort to relate your experience and describe your attributes as they relate to the ideal candidate. Similar verbiage should be incorporated later in the thank you letter.

    Be yourself.

    Project yourself as flexible by showing there is more than one-way to handle a given situation. Avoid controversial subjects such as politics, religion, gender and other issues that generate strong emotional reactions. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with the interviewer. Be honest but not argumentative. Walk away from the interview with a balance between flexibility and independence.

    Bring additional, updated copies of your resume.

    Along with a complete list of references and contacts, to the interview.

    Use positive body language.

    Remember to smile and use posture that demonstrates attentiveness and a positive self-image. Face your interviewer; sit up straight and don't forget a firm handshake!

    The salary question.

    If you are planning to interview, be prepared to discuss your current salary and other related earnings. Prospective hirers want to understand how you are compensated, and what your expectations may be, in order to ensure your needs are within their capabilities. A recruiter, in your field of specialty, would be a good source of information to help you make this assessment.

    How to handle the salary discussion.

    Know your total compensation and the various components (base, bonus, stock options, etc) and when you are due for your next review. Be honest with your representation of these numbers. (This information will be verified at some point in the process!) Your compensation expectations should be realistic and representative of the position's responsibilities. Be ready to present your expectations clearly and consistently through the process.

    Remember to demonstrate flexibility with your expected pay. This means to be open to what the prospective hirer feels is appropriate for your background in comparison to the job and their internal company structure. Your career and the actual position are the main priorities at this point in the process. You do not want to leave a negative impression by appearing overly focused on monetary issues. If you leave the impression that you will consider any fair offer, you are leaving the door open, not only for current consideration but for future possibilities as well.

    Frequently Asked Interview Questions:


    • Describe a typical day at your office.
    • What is your role within your department?
    • Do you supervise or manage people? If so, to what extent?
    • What is your experience with external entities? (FDA, software vendors, CROs, etc)
    • What are your technical competencies?
    • How would you describe your ability to communicate technical issues to non-technical people?
    • How do you prioritize projects and/or crisis situations?


    • How would you describe your abilities as a team player?
    • What is your leadership style? Do you enjoy being a leader? Why? Would you prefer to not be in a leadership role? Why?
    • How would you or past employers describe your personality? (initiative, enthusiasm, stability, consistency, etc.)
    • How would you or past employers describe your work habits? (address issues promptly, met deadlines, provide accurate paperwork, etc.)
    • How do you perform under pressure?
    • What do you like to do outside of work?
    • Be prepared for hypothetical questions where you will be asked to explain what you would do given a certain situation. These types of questions address how you respond to situations in a short amount of time. They also attest to the extent of your business knowledge.

    After the interview.

    Contact your recruiter immediately!

    Action needs to be taken by an effective recruiter to enhance your chances of getting hired, but there is vital information that the recruiter must first have. Though a potential employer may tell you to take your time with this all-important decision, they normally are in contact with the recruiter within an hour of your departure to hear what sort of feedback the recruiter has received. Do not put off making this call!

    Write a thank you note.

    Even in this day and age of technical advances, your best bet is to hand write a brief note to the primary interviewers. Thank them for their time, tell them you enjoyed your meeting and if appropriate, express interest in the position or in hearing from them soon.

    Keep a record.

    Of your initial impressions of the day, what you learned and also questions that you still have that will need to be addressed. Very often the interview process can take several weeks. Writing down your thoughts will help keep information from various interviews/companies sorted and assist in stirring your memory on events and issues that may become important later.

    If you get an offer.

    Always respond enthusiastically! Leaving a positive impression at this point is extremely important. If you are disappointed by the offer, don't start to negotiate on that first call. It's better to wait a day (but no more than one day) to make your request. Even if you're not interested in the position, it's best to let a day go by before you decline the offer. Waiting makes it appear as though you've given the offer some serious thought before responding. This is appreciated by the prospective company. Again, whether you have an inherent interest or not it is always important to make a professional and positive presentation.


    Interviewing Tips


    Your calling is calling.


    Preparing for the interview


    The Telephone Interview


    Always sound alert and interested.


    Thank You Letters

    Here are some examples of some generic thank you letters, that you can use to follow up with after your interview.


    Resignantion Letters

    You got the offer, now what? The last thing we want to do when changing organizations is leaving your reputation and hard worked spoiled by a poorly executed exit.


    Counter Offer Advice

    Keep the ego out. Receiving a counter-offer can make you feel great. Everyone would. It is as though your employer has realized what you bring to the table and does not want you to leave now that another company has made you an offer. You may think that your hard work and skills have paid off and now you have them right where you want them; or do you?

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