How to prepare for an interview

Dear Dave: Where I work in Rochester there are opportunities to advance, but every time I interview I get the ‘behavioral interview questions’, which always make me feel like I am not able to really explain how good I would be in the position. I know that it is important to know about things like my experiences, but I get so involved in providing the perfect answer, that the real me does not come out. What can I do? — Signed: K

Dear K: I know exactly what you mean, because I have been in the same self-representation struggles when interviewing. The fact is, there are no perfect ways to ‘screen’ job candidates. Your company means well, because they want to hear about what you did and learned in various situations.

Some people come into the job interview with a great deal of education and experience, which gives them a leg up when conjuring up answers to behavioral questions. They have more to reflect back on so to speak, including work experiences, study situations and achievements, and problem-solving encounters.

Now, are there a lot of people who have more degrees than a thermometer and still cannot think? Yup! Are there a lot of "experienced" people, who still do not know what they are doing? Super Yup! I had managers I was surprised were able to find their way to work each day, but they talked a good game.

Being the Best You


I believe experience and education is crucial for being hired, but there are two other critical factors that you must consider. First, do your research! Learn all you can about the organization, department, and position you are interviewing for. This will show genuine interest in the organization and your research skills.


Secondly, come to the interview equipped to share what you will BRING to the position if selected. What do you have to offer that no one else has? Why should you be considered above other candidates? All too often, candidates approach the interview with a "what's in it for me" attitude — this is a turnoff for many Rochester managers I know.

As you may already be doing, think about and rehearse your responses to behavioral interview questions. You should have prepared responses for the very common question realms such as teams, situation handling, communicating, and project management. But, be honest and listen carefully when the question is posed and when the interviewers are talking.

Other Recommendations: 

Discuss your education and fit it into your responses.: If you went back for a degree, find a way to mention this. Also, tell the hiring managers you want to expand your skills base through education, both inside and outside of the company on a continuing basis.

Discuss your experience and don’t be shy: If you have done exemplary things and had great evaluations, make sure to talk about these. If you had taken on a leadership role in some project, make sure this is mentioned. If your evaluations show you are strong in team work, mention this when there is an opening.

Challenge: Here is something that I tell people to do and they nod their head, drooling like Pavlov’s dog, and then don’t do it: build and maintain a graphic and narrative portfolio of everything you are doing to improve yourself,


Include your accomplishments, any projects, papers, and presentations, community and organizational involvement, personal goals, and anything that will help tell your life story regarding how you are a continuous learner and have really accomplished significant things. What a great piece to bring to interviews!


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