Keys to Standout Interviews

cynergies - interviews2You may have all the necessary education, experience, and skills, but if you can’t win at the interview, the job will go to someone else. The key to success lies as much in what you do prior to the interview as it does in the interview itself. Learn the secrets of the successful interview.


The company: We are not talking about a three minute peruse of their website. Research constitutes digging deep, and as an IT specialist, you have the tools and know how to use them.

  • What challenges do they face as a company?
  • What are their areas of strength - where do they shine over their competitors?
  • What are their weak spots - where do they need to step up?
  • What is their mission statement, their core values – what do these look like in the day-to-day operations?
  • What is the financial health of the company?
  • Study their social media interactions with the public. What is happening in the company – what does social media tell you about their priorities, communication styles, promotions, etc.?

The staff: Take time to read the LinkedIn profiles of your interviewer and other top staff. Knowing the people will give you a picture of company culture and ideals.

  • What are the typical strongpoints and highlighted skills of individuals?
  • What personality types predominate?
  • What attitudes do you pick up from reading their posts?
  • What roles do various employees play within the company?
  • What is their history with the company - is there a lot of staff who have been with the company long-term or is the majority new within the last five years?

The position: This may seem basic, but it is crucial to understand what the position entails; and what specific skills, attitudes, etc. the company is seeking to hire.

  • What were the common skill denominators when you researched staff – are these the same keywords mentioned in the job description?
  • What role does the position play within the company?
  • What factors will designate success?
  • Which skills and experience fall into the “absolute must have” category?
  • Which ones fall into the “it’s a nice plus that you have them” category?

Prepare your answers: Be a S.T.A.R.

Study the common interview questionsand practiced your answers, of course, but more importantly, learn how to respond to behavioral questions.

Behavioral questions allow the interviewer to dig below your surface. It gives him/her a solid grasp of how you use your skills and experience, what your core values are and how they influence your professional practices and decisions, and reveals your attitudes.

Behavioral questions will differ widely from one interviewer to another, but regardless of the question, they will primarily focus on the following five areas.

  • What kind of team player are you?
  • How skilled are you at problem solving?
  • How well do you handle challenges or job pressures and stress?
  • How adept are you at interpersonal relationships?
  • Does your professional past exhibit leadership skills?

Prepare for these questions by choosing three – five specific personal success stories and applying the S.T.A.R. method.

  • S: Describe the Situation.
  • T: What was your Task or Target?
  • A: What Actions did you take – what skills did you apply?
  • R: What was the final Result or outcome?

The key is understanding how to articulate your answer. Now is the time to fall back on your research. What were the common skill denominators among staff? What were the key qualities connected to the position? Choose a success story that covers a situation type, which is typical to the company interviewing you. When sharing your task and the action you took, incorporate key words from their job descriptions. Mention qualities they are seeking. If you can, bring in a word picture using an example from some of the company’s recent news. Present the results in a way that resonates with the company’s mission statement and core values.

If you have several success stories well versed in your mind, a solid grasp of the star method, and a solid grasp of both the company and the position, you will be ready to respond thoughtfully to any behavioral question the interviewer presents.

Prepare your questions

Most interviews close with an opportunity for you to ask your own questions. This isn’t as much about giving you a chance to find answers, as it is an opportunity for the interviewer to learn more about you based upon what you ask. Make your questions count.

  • Questions about the company culture, and what the interviewer appreciates most about it, reveal an interest in personal interaction and other people as well as the job requirements.
  • Questions about challenges, necessary training, and basis for performance evaluation reveal an enthusiasm and desire to hit the ground running and do the job well.
  • Questions about the time-frame for hiring, the next step, when to expect an answer, etc. reveal your confidence and your desire to receive an offer.

Taking time before the interview will pay off big during the interview. Contact Cynergies Solutions.We find openings for IT specialists – giving you an opportunity to interview and win your dream position.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you Wayne!
  2. Al
    Good article; very useful in preparing for being interviewed by a prospective client, especially the research part.