How to Ace Your Face-to-Face Interview (Show Notes)

The face-to-face interview can be daunting, even frightening for some. Often we have tried and true rituals that help us prepare and get rid of those awful jitters so we can ace the interview.  This past weekend, I covered How to Ace the Face-to-Face Interview on my show, Career Talk with Holly Bunn.  Here are a few highlights from the show.

3 Tips on How to Prepare for the Face-to-Face Interview


I discussed the basics of preparing for a phone interview in my last blog post, How to Rock Your Phone Interview.  Below are a few additional steps to take for the Face-to-Face interview:

  1. Create at least 3 CAR statements (different than those you used in the Phone interview)  Challenge, Action, Result stories.   These stories describe accomplishments that were problems or situations that you have solved.  Create stories that demonstrate your ability to do the job.  After you’ve written these stories, practice speaking them out loud so that you are comfortable with the story.
  2. Research the company for current events (in the last 24-48 hours) and be prepared to talk about or incorporate them into your interview.
  3. Travel the interview route/directions the day/week before the interview (if you have a local interview).  Google isn’t always right when it comes to directions.  Map the route before the interview by traveling the route.  Try this during your rush hour to help determine your commute.



Tell me About Yourself?

How to Answer:  Talk about your career from the most current position through the last five years.  Include education, certifications, and training relevant to the position. The answer to this question is not an autobiography.  Reiterate the high points on your resume.

How NOT to answer: Do not talk about anything from your personal life, such as how you spend time with your children, volunteer organizations, hobbies, favorite color, food, etc.

What are your strengths? Why should I hire you?

How to Answer:  Both of these questions will have the same answer. Talk about your top 3 strengths related to the job. You should have identified your strengths prior to the job interview through your preparation. I cover this in my last episode on Rocking Your Phone Interview.  If you’ve been asked any of these questions during the interview, answer the same every time with your top 3 strengths.  The repetition will work in your favor.

How NOT to Answer: Stay away from cliche answers to this question: “I am a great communicator, I am a people person, I am a leader…”   These answers and those alike are vague answers and could be relevant to anyone for any job. You must present strengths related to the job.

17etwzyirhv2djpgWhat are your weaknesses?

How to Answer: Consider that your weakness is the experience that you do not have related to the job.  This is actually an opportunity to learn. Pick a skill/weakness that is possible to overcome and discuss the steps you are taking to tackle it. Example: “I’m not great at Microsoft Project and I am taking a class on to increase my knowledge of this software”

How NOT to Answer: Do not to talk about personality traits and never try to fake out the weakness question by turning a strength into a weakness.  Employers see this from a mile away and are quite turned off by this type of trickery.


Tell me about a problem you’ve had and how you solved it. 

How to answer: Use one or more of your C-A-R stories to describe the Challenge, Action, and Result (in that order).  You should already have these stories prepared prior to the interview. Remember to be excited when discussing these stories, they are accomplishments. Attitude is everything.

How NOT to answer:  Do not pick stories from your previous or current job that are painful or that paint a negative picture of you. Often a natural reaction to this question is choosing a story that is painful.  Fight this natural urge by preparing CAR stories that are accomplishment based, prior to the interview.

Career-Ladder-Looking-Ahead-MSWhere do you see yourself in five years?

How to Answer:  Talk about career growth as it relates to the job.  Also, be sure your answer is attainable.  Example: I am applying for a management position now and in five years I hope to be a Senior Manager or Director.

How NOT to answer: Do not talk about career growth unrelated to the position which you are applying.  Example: I am applying for this management position now, but in five years I hope to have my own nail salon.  This will signal the employer that you do not plan to stay with the company long term.


10 Face-to-Face Interview Rules to Follow 

  1. Check bad attitudes at the door – prepare to walk in knowing you have the job, it’s a matter of verifying this.  Positive attitude is everything.  Leave all negativity at the door.  
  2. No cell phones – turn them on silent, not vibrate when you enter the interview.  And please don’t stop an interview to take a call.
  3. Use the bathroom before – don’t disturb the momentum by going to the bathroom.
  4. No bad breath – do not eat garlic, onions, or other smelly foods; do not drink alcohol or coffee; do not smoke before the interview.  Your breath will reek and they will smell you before they hear you.  People will remember how you smelled more than what you said. So, pop a breath mint before you walk in the door for your appointment.
  5. No perfume, cologne, or body spray: you never know who will be allergic to your fragrance or who will find it offensive in smell.  Leave the smell goods at home.
  6. Smile – the energy is transferable.  No scary Stepford wife smile.
  7. Sit up straight in your chair almost in the middle of the chair.  Don’t lean back or slouch – this is often associated with laziness.
  8. Do not bad mouth your former/current employer or manager.
  9. Tell the truth – no lies (not even little white lies), no fudging the facts.  All lies will catch up with you. If you don’t know the answer, say so and get back with them.
  10. Dress the part – colors are psychological. Black – associated with authority, Gray – associated with confidence, Blue – associated with loyalty and corporate environments.  Visit my Pinterest Page on Interview and Office attire to get some ideas on what to wear.

your hiredEnding thought:  The key to acing the face-to face interview is preparation and attitude – be calm and be yourself.  Preparation helps instill confidence so you don’t have to search for answers. Remember, people buy from whom they like – so present your best self during the interview and be optimistic. 

In case you missed the show, click here now to listen to the entire episode: How to Ace Your Face-to-Face Interview 

Career Talk with Holly Bunn Online Radio Show,Saturdays at 12:30pm ET. Click here: Ms Resume Help BlogTalk Radio Show (Home)

Join the conversion!  Join the LinkedIn Group, “Career Talk with Holly Bunn” to post your questions and get answers, updates, and information about the show.

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Holly Bunn is a resume writer, career coach, and motivational speaker with more than 15 years of experience in Human Resources, recruiting, and technology.  Her clients have secured interviews with Fortune 100 companies.  She is sought after as a subject matter expert on LinkedIn and has delivered workshops and speeches to hundreds of job seekers.  For more information on career coaching or resume help, contact Holly at (305) 791-6965 or


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