From treating candidates like members of the team to conducting proper research, here are eight answers to the question, “Tell us about your best interview experience as a job seeker, and how can interviewers learn from it?”
Treat Candidates Like Members of the Team
“My best interview experience was when a company flew me out to their HQ, showed me the office, introduced me to the team, and then sat me down for a live coding test.
I had a lot of technical interviews that year, but none of them were as efficiently run or as immersive as this one. They had done a lot of preparation in advance, and they saw the interview as a chance to get to know me as a person and a candidate.
I left that interview feeling like we were old friends, and they had a chance to decide based on both my qualifications and our rapport during the interview. I feel like other interviewers can learn from this approach. Sometimes the best candidates slip through the cracks because they don’t fit the perfect profile. Instead, really vet your candidates and make sure you’re hiring someone who’s going to be a good fit for the team.”
Try a Coffee Bar Interview
“The best interview I’ve ever had didn’t take place in an office, at a job fair, or even over Zoom. It took place at a coffee shop.
When I showed up for my very first job interview after law school, before I could even sit down, the attorney interviewing me asked if I liked coffee. I said I did. He immediately replied, “good, come with me.”
He led me down to the courtyard of the building, where a little coffee shop operated in the corner. He ordered us a couple of lattes, and we sat down in the shade in a quiet corner. We then chatted casually for a few minutes while sipping coffee, before getting to the meat and potatoes of the interview.
It was the most relaxed, easygoing interview I’ve ever taken part in, and I remember it to this day. I didn’t get the job, but I still recall the interaction vividly. Clearly, this interview approach was meant to disarm me, and honestly, it worked.”
Leverage CliftonStrengths Results
“I once interviewed for a job where the managers had me take the CliftonStrengths Assessment. It’s a scientific quiz that was created by the Gallup Organization.
The company paid for a key to take the test online, and they let me keep the accompanying book about the many strengths associated with human behavior. The assessment helped us all gain helpful insights into how, if selected, I would best fit into their team. I was very impressed with this, as I felt they went above and beyond to ensure we all got the most out of the experience.”
Clearly Communicate All Details
“I would describe my best job interview so far as a really informative one. Before the interview, I received information on all I needed to know, including the interview duration, office dress code, parking areas, and how to access the office building for the first time.
Also, the interviewer allowed me to schedule my interview based on my convenient time. Interviewers should learn to communicate both minor and important details effectively throughout the interview process. Even if job seekers do not get the job, they will still feel respected and say good words about your company to others.”
Tour the Workplace
“My best interview experience was when I was interviewing for a technical sales role and I had to visit the factory of the company I was interviewing for.
When I arrived at the factory, I was greeted by the Director of Sales of the company and taken on a tour of the facilities. They showed me how their product was made, how it was packaged for shipping, and I could even see the first stage of quality control.
The tour was eye-opening, and it really gave me an idea of how their business operated. It was also a great opportunity for me to ask questions and get a better understanding of the role I was interviewing for.
After the tour, I had a one-on-one meeting with the Sales Manager, and he answered all of my questions about the company and the role. I learned a lot about the company, the role, and the opportunities available to me.”
Avoid the Canned Responses
“I went through a two-day interview for a job years ago, and I came into it feeling very tense, but prepared. One of the top executives started asking me questions after I sat down with him.
I answered them with ready-made responses that sounded like they were getting pulled directly from a cover letter. The executive stopped me mid-sentence and told me he wasn’t interested in hearing about my credentials or what I thought made me a qualified candidate.
He just wanted to know how well I would fit into the culture—and he wanted my answers to be more honest and more about what I thought or how I’d react to certain situations. He wanted me to express myself freely.
I took my cues from that executive and I continued through the rest of the 48-hour interview process, more relaxed and more confident. Not only did I get hired, but I learned a lot about how to better interview a candidate.
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Take an Interview as a Conversation Not An Interrogation
“My best interview experience was a long time ago when I applied to a marketing firm. The HR manager started with, “How was your day today?” Starting with a casual question like that really put me at ease and built my confidence in the interview ahead.
She even shared her own experience about why she loved working for the company, which showed me how passionate she was about the role and made me want it more than ever.
She let me talk more, allowed me to ask my own questions, and gave sound advice on how to look at things differently before jumping to any conclusion. Her style was thoughtful and gave equal weight to our conversation.
It was quite refreshing because I felt like my opinion mattered, and it wasn’t just a one-way dialogue. From this experience as an interviewer, I learned that being approachable, listening intently, and understanding your candidate’s perspective are essential when interviewing.”
Do Your Research Properly
“My best interview experience was with a company looking for an IT specialist in 2019. Before the interview, I did my research and had a very good understanding of their goals and priorities and their industry.
During the interview, I communicated confidently about my qualifications and showed that I could solve problems quickly by giving examples of successful projects I’ve completed in the past. I was also able to clearly articulate my value proposition and how it would add value to the company.
My knowledge of the industry impressed the interviewer and my enthusiasm for problem-solving. At the end of the interview, I received an offer for the position!
Other job seekers can learn from this experience by preparing thoroughly before their interviews. Researching the organization and industry is key, as it will help you stand out from other candidates by showing that you clearly understand what they are looking for in an applicant.”