Interview prep

Last week somebody I know had an interview. It was for a position of a gardener and involved a mathematical test.

I would not expect that. Unless it involved calculation of surfaces for gardeners. But it was a very complex test. He did not succeed, also because of stress.

This story motivated me for writing this post. I would not give you all recipes for how to succeed with interview. But I will accumulate a few golden rules for a typical behavioral interview:

  1. Read about the company that you are interviewing for. Stories where a nice lady succeeded even if she thought a big pharmaceutical company was selling computers (a true story) are rare. Show interest in joining the company during the interview.
  2. Let the interviewer talk. The interview should be a dialogue and not monologue. When they ask about your experience in international project, answer it but say: “I read your company’s clients are based also outside Switzerland. How does it work, can I be involved in projects abroad?”. This way you show you read about them but also you let the interviewer brag about their company or achievements.
  3. Use examples of your work or skills. When they say: “Tell me your biggest strength” do not answer simply: “I have excellent communication skills.” Answer “I am a great communicator. When working for my pharma company, there was a manager who did not like our program. I met him to understand his department and what he is looking for and was able to convince him that I am an expert in what I do”. Examples are crucial, I failed about 5 interviews because of lack of examples.
  4. Use short and clear sentences. Another reason of my few failed interviews was that I was talking too quickly, too long with no pauses.
  5. Tone of the voice: relax and smile. Smile always helps. If you feel tired, start walking on the room (*only for phone interviews). During a phone interview, when you are standing (or sitting properly straighten up when there is a Face to Face), your tone of voice is more confident.
  6. If they will call you on your mobile phone, check your battery and network. If it is a face to face interview – dress up properly and arrive a few minutes earlier so you do not have to rush.
  7. Use some key sentences: “I want to make a move toward a new challenge, where I will have possibilities to grow professionally”, “Given my proven ability to learn quickly and my willingness to invest my own time, would you consider talking to me more in detail about this position…”, “The areas you require sound like a match to my experience. It sounds as if you have some exciting projects at hand. What projects would I be involved with in the first few months?”
  8. Some key phrases about personality (please use only with examples): goal‐orientation, willingness to be a team player, motivation and energy: commitment to the job, eagerness to learn professionally, analytical skills, dedication and reliability, determination: I don’t back off, confidence in taking on new challenges, to make changes, problem-solver, team player
  9. When you have doubts about the question, use some phrases:
    – Let me think about it for a moment.
    – That is a very good question. I want to be sure I understand. Could you explain it again?
    – When you don’t know the word that you want to use, rephrase it. Do not say sorry when you do not know the word, just change it.
  10. Print the job spec and your CV. In stressful situation you can forget if you graduated in 2011 or 2012. With CV in your hands, you can always take a glance
  11. Take a notebook to take notes. It will show your interest and motivation.
  12. Show your flexibility – if they ask if you could work during 3 weeks during a year, do not say “No” straightforward
  13. Let’s say the job is in Geneva and you do not know French at all. Show your eagerness to invest in your own time to learn this language and to integrate into the country.
  14. When going to an interview, even if you know you would not take the job, you are participating in the interview to win, you will make your decision afterwards.
  15. Be passionate about the projects or achievements you made. Be proud of yourself. You are fabulous 🙂

Good luck during your interviews! Please leave a comment on my blog directly or write me an email at: in case of any questions.


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