Interview Checklist and Comments

Author: Gene Flynn, CCC Volunteer


Interview Checklist:

1. Know your added value and have a simple way to express it.
2. Research the firm and hiring manager.
3. Understand that the hiring manager has risks as well.
4. Understand your body language and how it can help or hurt you.
5. Use short clear answers with examples of past behavior. (SAR for past situation, actions you took and results.)
6. Be very explicit on why you are in job search with a brief and believable message.
7. Plan for good questions that get the hiring manager talking.
8. Understand and address negative assumptions of hiring manager.
9. Close positively and send a thank you note.
10. Be willing to walk if not a good fit.



I lead 25 interview workshops a year at the Community Career Center.  I would like to discuss three success-limiting patterns that I often see. 


#1: Job candidates often do not fully understand or clearly express what sets them apart from other candidates

Many job candidates that have done extraordinary things in the past do not realize or do not share what was truly extraordinary. 

For example, job candidate “Jane” had worked in sales for a medical supply firm and moved to different medical supply firm five years ago.  When a major hospital group realized that Jane had moved, they called the Sales VP of her new firm and asked that Jane be assigned as their sales representative.  When the workshop attendees probed the situation, we all realized that Jane had supplied extraordinary service to the hospital group.  With the workshop insight, she will successfully share what sets her apart.


#2: Use short clear answers with examples of past behavior. (SAR for past situation, actions you took and results.)

Most of my interview workshop attendees readily understand that value of sharing past situations and actions; after all, past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. However, I regularly see job candidates minimize the importance of the past situation.

For example, an attendee seeking a warehouse operations management position told of a situation where shipping labels were falling off in transit to the customer.  He went on to explain the actions he took and the positive result. When the workshop attendees asked for more details, it turned out that the firm’s largest customer, which represented 40% of sales and 60% of profits was about to drop the firm because the packages lost in transit. If you have dealt with important situations, you should make that clear to the hiring manager because it sends the message that you can solve important problems.  


#3: Understand and address negative assumptions being made about you.

From the moment the hiring manager shakes your hand to the final question, they are making assumptions, often wrong, about you.  You need to understand and address negative assumptions.

For example, at our Palatine office we have seen scores of engineers due to Motorola’s downsizing.  They are often seeking employment at mid-sized firms with small engineering departments.  My guess is hiring managers often assume that ex-Motorola engineers had hundreds of corporate resources to call on and would be a bad fit for a small engineering department.  If the ex-Motorola engineer understands this negative assumption, he or she can often address them by pointing out that they worked many projects within a small team.


Common assumptions might include:

- Your skills are out of date

- You will not fit well with our team because you are too old, too young or too educated.

- You will jump ship for a better offer

- Your skills are too specific or too general

- Your family commitments will prevent you from occasional travel or longer hours.



Founded in 1996, Community Career Center is a 501c3 charitable organization that provides a supportive and professional setting where job seekers can conduct an effective job search. Last year, we supported over 881 clients.   Visit for more information on the Community Career Center.

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