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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

If you’re looking for ways to overcome those nervous jitters before your next big job interview, consider a few tips from Elizabeth Cassidy, Patagonia’s HR Manager. Elizabeth spoke to college students and staff on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno as part of a 30 Minute Success series offered by the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association (NNHRA) on April 10, 2014.

Here are eight key tips to help you prepare for a job interview:

  1. Preparation is key. Visit the company’s website and get a sense of the company culture. If the CEO has written a book, read it. Job candidates often fail to do enough research prior to an interview and can be taken off guard when they are asked why they chose to interview for a particular position at a company. It may be helpful to contact the recruiter or HR contact ahead of time and ask what kind of attire is appropriate for the interview. For example, at Patagonia, it may not be necessary to wear a suit to the interview, but the hiring manager may be interested to know if you use Patagonia’s products and participate in outdoor activities. Even if attire is informal, don’t be too laid back during the interview.
  2. Practice. Job hunting websites list many interview questions. Behavioral questions are common. For example, “How have you handled a difficult problem in your past jobs?” Be ready to give specific answers. Other questions might pertain to experience: “Tell me about a dysfunctional team you were on. What role did you play? Did you make the deadline?” Scenario questions are also common: “How would you handle an angry customer?” It is helpful to practice your answers out loud or rehearse with a friend prior to the interview. UNR also offers free practice web interviews at
  3. Everyone is interviewing you. Be aware that your interview begins as soon as you come into view, so make a good impression on the receptionist. Elizabeth said that she asks her receptionist to mark “smiley faces” on resumes of candidates who are personable and who make a good first impression as soon as they walk in the door.
  4. Be on time. It is helpful to allow enough time to find the interview location, park, and collect yourself before the interview. If you have questions about timing and location, contact the recruiter in advance. Candidates who arrive late may throw off the interview schedule and may not even be given a chance to interview.
  5. Tell the truth. If you have had a challenging boss in the past, be truthful about it in your interview, but don’t provide excessive detail. Highlight what you learned from the experience and don’t focus too much on negative experiences.
  6. Pay attention not only to what you are saying, but to your body language. Many hiring managers make their decision within the first few minutes of meeting you. Although you may be nervous, don’t stare at your lap. At the same time, don’t get into a staring match with your interviewer, either.
  7. Answer the questions directly. If you are unsure about a question, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer to repeat it; however don’t ask for continuous repeats. Demonstrate that you are listening and don’t ramble.
  8. Bring good questions for your interviewers. Interviewers like to tell their success stories, so it is acceptable to ask about how he or she came to work for the company and what role he or she plays there. Who would you work with? How did the position become open? If you have questions about pay and benefits, run them by the recruiter; don’t ask the interviewer. Pay can be discussed later if you are offered the job.

If all goes well, reiterate how much you admire the company and think you would do well working there.

Good luck!

Gina Akao

Gina Akao is the owner of Writing and Editing Today, and provides social media management and builds WordPress websites and blogs for authors and small business owners. To learn more about her products and services, please visit

Five Career Search Tips to Help You Find Your Target Job Opportunities

Would you like to know how to find a job in your targeted industry? What would a career consultant advise about job hunting in today’s challenging economic climate? I had the privilege of attending a presentation given by Career Consultant, Stephanie LaPlace on September 17, 2013. Stephanie works for Lee Hecht Harrison, the global leader in career transition consulting and was gracious enough to volunteer 30 minutes of her time to talk to college students and staff members on the campus of the University of Nevada, Reno as part of a 30 Minute Success series offered by the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association (NNHRA). Prior to joining Lee Hecht Harrison, LaPlace had worked for ten years as a recruiter and had served as a Vice President at Adecco, one of the world’s largest staffing companies.

Here are five key tips from Stephanie’s presentation:

  1. Conduct a personal assessment to identify your strengths and gifts. What kinds of tasks do you receive compliments on after accomplishing? Once you have identified those talents, match them with market demands. Then, research the potential industries you would like to work in, and start targeting your ideal geographic locations. Do you want to work in the same town in which you graduated college or high school? Are you open to relocating? How about international work? Use this information to create a written job search plan that targets your desired industry as well as market leaders within those growing industries.
  2. Set up an internship in your targeted industry. First make a list of companies or organizations where you seek to volunteer or intern. Research those companies to find out if they take interns. Some companies may even offer paid internships. If you are unsure whether you want to commit several months of time to an internship, you can set “shadow” dates to schedule time with someone who does a job you would like to pursue. By the end of the day, you can better identify if you are interested, or even passionate about, that type of work.
  3. Spruce up your resume. Most resumes just list past job duties, but if you want your resume to stand out, highlight accomplishments and measureable results. Be sure to tailor your resume with keywords from the posted job description, especially if you will be posting the resume online. Also, many companies use LinkedIn as a recruitment tool, so if you don’t have a LinkedIn account, create one, and form your digital resume. LinkedIn is a social network that is similar to Facebook but is geared towards highlighting workers’ professional achievements.
  4. Expand your network. Only 25% of jobs are advertised online. That means that 75% of jobs are placed through connections. When a hiring manager has a job opening, he or she may ask current employees for referrals, but in many cases these jobs are secret and will be filled through networking outside of the organization. If you are in the market for a job, ask your friends for contacts within your targeted companies and set up informational meetings with hiring managers so that you can talk to them about their industry and company needs without coming out and asking for a job. Those hiring managers may talk about hidden jobs and actually hire you. It also helps to join professional associations in which your target companies participate.
  5. Polish your interviewing skills. Before an interview, be sure to research the company’s website and familiarize yourself with the industry. Prepare answers to common interview questions with real accomplishments that relate to what hiring managers seek in terms of skill sets and expertise. Highlight your skills and accomplishments and how your talents fit with the employer’s needs. If you feel bold enough, ask for the job and what the hire date is. Finally, send ‘thank you’ emails that reiterate your abilities and how you can address their needs.

Most of all, you are in business for yourself. Think of your career path as “ME, Inc.” In other words, you create job security for yourself; no company will do that for you. Eighty percent of employees just maintain the status quo. Twenty percent comprise an elite class of employees who not only develop their personal brands, but also actively seek out connections to people who can help them reach their career goals. Keep in mind, not all variables are perfect, so it is important for you to love your work in utilizing your talents and create criteria for ideal work settings, bosses, and teammates. Prepare good questions for the interviewers to answer so you can determine if the opportunity fits most of your criteria.

Now that you’re armed with a new arsenal of career hunting skills, go get ‘em!


Gina Akao is the owner of Writing and Editing Today and offers consulting services to authors and small business owners who need websites, blogs, and social media management. Would you like a copy of my notes from Stephanie LaPlace’s presentation? Please go to and fill out the contact form to request a free copy of my executive minutes.

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