3 BEs of Effective Interviewing: Part 1

Jack in the Box
Google, Starbucks, Apple and Netflix– what do all of these industry leaders have in common?  In order to secure a job with them, each candidate must undergo a thorough interview. 

Mastering the interview process is an integral part of managing your career – whether you are 15, 20 or 60 years old. Every company relies on interviews to assess the right "technical fit" in addition to the finding the candidate with the best "cultural fit."  In other words, not only will you need the hard skills, but you will also need to mesh with the company's environment, dynamic and "vibe." The interview process is your opportunity to showcase these hard and "soft" skills, in addition to determining whether or not you would enjoy working for the business.

Effective interviewing hinges on six key ingredients. We call these the "6 BEs of Interviewing" and in this post, we will address the first three.

BE Prepared

Preparing for an interview is of the utmost importance. With the amount of information available on the Internet, you can uncover a variety of intelligence regarding a company's business strategy, their latest press releases and, in some cases, details about their management team.

Many interviews that fail are the result of a lack of preparation. There's nothing more unimpressive to a hiring manager than a candidate who has failed to read the job description or who lacks an understanding of the company's core business. Useful resources of information include LinkedIn, corporate websites, analyst reports, press releases, blogs, The San Diego Business Journal, The San Diego Daily Transcript, recruiters and, most importantly, your personal network.

BE a Good Listener

Listen carefully - one of the worst offenses you can commit during an interview is to constantly interrupt the interviewer.  Not only does this demonstrate your lack of listening skills, but it also causes the interviewer to question your ability to communicate with others and carry out assigned tasks. Bring a notepad to the interview and write down your questions or interesting points as they arise. Before asking a question, determine whether it's the most appropriate time. With some patience, perhaps the interviewer will answer the question before you ask.

If the interviewer asks a question you are unsure about, it is completely appropriate to respond with "I want to be sure I understand your question – did you mean … "  Finally, you should always leave your cell phone in the car during an interview to avoid being distracted or interrupted; well-qualified candidates quickly lose all credibility if they receive or accept phone calls during an interview.  

BE Inquisitive

This is one of the most obvious components of an effective interview, yet it's often underutilized.  Having read the job description and researched the company, you'll arrive at the interview with a very basic and purely academic understanding of the company and position – nothing more.

An in-person interview provides you with an opportunity to discuss the true substance of the position.  During the interview, you'll discover the company's culture, the long-term prospects for growth, the day-to-day activities, the hiring manager's expectations, the manager's work ethic and work style, and the makeup and tenure of the department. Without asking the proper questions, much of this substance remains a mystery… and the worst time to find out about the culture is after you start working for the company! 

We will discuss the final 3 "BEs of Effective Interviewing" – BE Specific, BE Energetic and BE Yourself – in our next post.


Ken C. Schmitt is Junior Achievement of San Diego's board member, the founder and president of TurningPoint Executive Search and the Sales Leadership Alliance.

A native of San Diego, Ken has been recruiting and coaching for over 15 years, supporting professionals from a variety of industries and functions. In 2009, he launched StartingPoint Careers to provide interviewing, resume writing and job search coaching to high school and college students. We invite you to contact Ken at

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Work Readiness, Know-How

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Ken C. Schmitt is the Founder and President of TurningPoint Executive Search.