Navigating the Interview: From Start to Finish

This guest post is by Alan Carniol, founder of, an online job interview training system. Follow Alan and Interview Success Formula on Facebook and Twitter.

Did you know, out of the many applications an employer may receive, only about 20 percent land interviews? Despite the intense competition to earn each interview slot, hiring managers still find that many job seekers are unprepared. For instance, it has been suggested that 98 percent of college grads need more help gearing up for interviews. This problem is likely the same for other demographics, as well.

To avoid this fast exit from the candidate pool, learn how to navigate through the interview process from start to finish.

Let’s look at some key steps you need to take.

Do Your Research

Researching is one of the most important steps you can take before the interview. It’s how you know how to conduct yourself, present your case, and answer questions. How do you do your homework properly? Check out the company website and their accompanying social platforms. What are other employees saying? What’s the company culture like? Who’s in charge and what’s new at the company? These answers will ensure your interview will run more smoothly.

Quick tip: While knowing what’s going on in your space is important, so is having an opinion on it. So, when you speak up about that recent merger or new CEO, be sure to state your thoughts on it, especially if they coincide with the feelings of the organization.

Come Prepared

You never want to step into an interview without the appropriate materials. This may range from a work portfolio, recommendations, or just a cover letter and resume. During the communication process, ask the interviewer what they’d like you to bring. That way, you won’t be empty-handed and you can always refer to your materials during the interview should you need to.

Quick tip: The interviewer may keep whatever materials you give them. So, if you plan on handing them your work portfolio, be sure it’s a copy or something that you can easily replicate.

Tell Your Story

In job interviews, it’s all about leaving on a memorable note. This means telling your personal story so you stand out from other candidates. For instance, if the interviewer asks you to tell them about yourself, give them a quick synopsis as to why you got into the industry. In addition, giving them specific examples of your positive work experience is also a great way to show why you’d make a great employee.

Quick tip: If you can, tie your story in a way that obviously shows how you’d improve the organization. This shows your value in conjunction with your experience.

Always Follow-Up

Don’t think following up after an interview is necessary? Think again. In fact, 91 percent of managers say that some sort of follow-up will give you an edge in the hiring process. So, when the interview is done, be sure to follow-up to show your appreciation for the opportunity. This could be in the form of an email, letter, or even a phone call. In addition, remember to follow-up soon after the interview and don’t go overboard; once is more than enough.

Quick tip: Try to insert some memorable moments from the interview into your follow-up, such as a funny moment or how much you learned.


If you got the job, great! If you didn’t, it’s time to evaluate. Where do you think you went wrong? Do you think it came down to your responses or maybe your recommendations fell through? What about your online presence? Though it may be difficult to look at these questions objectively, it’s important that you do so if you didn’t get the job. It may change the outcome of your next interview.

Quick tip: There’s nothing wrong with asking the interviewer for feedback! Chances are, they’d be happy to inform you what worked and what didn’t. You can then use this feedback in your next experience.

From research to evaluation, be sure to navigate through the interview process using the above steps for a more positive outcome!

What do you think? What are some other ways to navigate through the interview process?

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  • Val Matta

    Excellent tips for navigating the job interview! Candidates should also always remember to capitalize on the portion of the interview — generally at the end — in which the employer asks if they have any questions. Having one to three questions prepared shows you have a vested interest in the company and position in general — try asking what a typical day in the role is like, or what the next steps in the hiring process are.