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How to Dazzle at Your Next Interview

  • Rodney Apple
July/August 2017

Increasingly, today’s employers are conducting behavioral interviews to assess core competencies necessary for success. The ability for an interviewee to articulate relevant and significant responses that tie in to these competencies while quantifying achievements, is essential. Here’s how.

Before the interview

Be prepared to answer standard questions related to what you know about the organization and why you want to work there. Examine the company website and LinkedIn page to gain information about history, products and services, mission, values, and recent news. Also, read reviews on, as previous candidates will share details about the process, questions they were asked and the like. If possible, speak with people who work for the company or worked there in the past to gain more information about the business, how to be successful, the company culture and so forth. You can run a search on LinkedIn by company name and title to identify the right contacts.

Understand the job you are applying for, including responsibilities, qualifications and desired experience. Know the deliverables for the position and what success looks like, as this will help you prepare. It’s likely that you’ll be asked to quickly answer questions about past situations, how you handled them and the results. Commit to memory five to 10 of your top accomplishments, and be prepared to discuss the related circumstances, your actions and the outcomes. Quantify your achievements with numbers, metrics, percentages or dollar amounts.

Prepare a list of questions to ask related to the job, department, company, opportunities for growth and challenges. This shows the interviewers that you’ve come prepared and are genuinely interested in learning as much as possible. 

The day of the interview

Wear appropriate interview attire for the position and company. When in doubt, overdress. Arrive 15 minutes early, and always remember that the interview starts the moment you drive into the parking lot.

Be courteous to everyone you meet. You will be evaluated on your dress, demeanor, body language and how you treat others — and all of this may be communicated to the interviewer. Put away your phone and keep it silent or turned off the entire time.

Once in the interview, demonstrate enthusiasm and passion for your work. Stay focused on the questions. If you’re unsure of what’s being asked, request some elaboration. Strive to answer questions in two or three minutes, and avoid rambling, interrupting, giving too much detail or going off on a tangent. Discuss things that you personally did rather than things your team did. The interviewer wants to know how your skills and experience led to success.

Watch your interviewer’s body language. If you start to see behaviors such as checking the time more than once, fidgeting or looking out the window, wrap up your current answer. Let the interviewer start the conversation again, or ask if your answer satisfied the inquiry.

Avoid asking about vacation, benefits or compensation unless the interviewer brings it up. It’s best to save these discussions for when you’re a finalist candidate. Don’t be too casual or relaxed in your responses and demeanor. As tempting as it can be, never speak negatively about past employers, managers or peers. Avoid using slang or acronyms unless you are 100 percent confident that the interviewer will be familiar with them. Even if the interviewer curses, never use foul language.

At the end of the interview

Be sure to ask if there are any concerns about your ability to perform in the job. This provides an instant opportunity to counter any objections. You should be continuously evaluating your interest in the organization and position during the interview. If you’ve determined that it is something you wish to pursue, genuinely express that by asking for the job. Inquire about the next steps and when you may expect to hear back. Many candidates are selected simply because they demonstrate a keen desire for the position.

Lastly, always ask for a business card so you may send a thank you email or card. This should be done within 24 hours. Good luck!

Rodney Apple is founder and president of SCM Talent Group, a supply chain recruiting and executive search firm. He has served as the APICS career coach since 2014 and routinely contributes supply chain career development content for members. Apple may be contacted at

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  1. JD August 03, 2017, 02:13 PM
    Good stuff.  As someone who hires regularly and interviews on a lot of panels for other departments, I definitely agree with, "Your interview starts the moment you drive into the parking lot..." and "Be courteous to everyone you meet." (not only is it good advice, but it is the "Golden Rule" right?).  Also, I strongly agree with, "Prepare a list of questions to ask related to the job, department, company, opportunities for growth and challenges." and "Avoid asking about vacation, benefits or compensation..." and "...always ask for a business card so you may send a thank you email or card." 

    And lastly, I learned something (Thank You!) by the point about, "Be sure to ask if there are any concerns about your ability to perform in the job. This provides an instant opportunity to counter any objections."  I will do that the next time I interview for a job.  :)


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