Interview Tips from Paul May Associates – A conglomeration of excellent tips I’ve found over the years.

There are thousands of pieces of information regarding interviewing. So many in fact, it will make your head spin. Just remember, the overall key is to be yourself and see if the role you’re interviewing for is a good match for the direction you’re looking to move with your career and personal life.

The most skillful play is to position yourself in the best possible light in case you want to advance.   It is better to get the nod to move forward  and turn them down, than for you to want to move forward and not get the chance.

Asking questions in order to build a bridge between their needs and your skills is the best approach.  What do they want this role to accomplish?  What do they need to have happen? What are their day to day challenges?——> Then position yourself closely in relation to their needs.

We’ve tried to pull some of the best information together for you, as a reminder,  and some of these points may bring a new spark to your repertoire. Don’t forget to view some videos and do some practice interview questions with your phone.

Success with interviews are a mixture of knowing yourself and what you bring to the table and your ability to articulate that information to the interviewer. Be well informed and Good luck.

Articles included:

  • STAR INTERVIEW TYPE SCENARIOS Situation, Task, Action, Result



  • Always be most professional in dressing -remember it is better to be a little over dressed than underdressed! Wear a business suit.
  • PLEASE BRING enough copies of your resume for as many interviewers as you will meet. Have a copy of your resume for yourself and use it as your navigational tool. throughout your interview.  Keep it on your lap and look at when necessary.
  • Study your resume the night before. Remember you are the package and the salesman.  No one knows your experience like you and no one can explain it like you!
  • PLEASE BRING a note pad to take down important information- sometimes this is an immediate deal breaker that shows a candidate did not prepare.
  • A firm handshake and good eye contact is essential. Stand up every time someone new enters the room and don’t SLOUCH!!
  • Demonstrate sincere interest in your interviewer. Ask them questions!
  • Actively listen and focus on questions asked. Follow-up with a question when applicable.
  • Describe your experience that is relevant-know your experience/resume.
  • Ask questions about the position not the benefits or vacation. There will be time for that later.
  • Do not discuss salary. Money is an awkward subject and we will handle that for you.
  • Elaborate when answering questions, don’t say yes/no!!!!
  • Focus on questions. Golden rule: if you start to repeat yourself, you’re rambling.
  • Let other’s praise you (my last review said that my strengths are…)
  • If asked to qualify your skills on a number scale, qualify your answer (I would rate myself an 8 because….).
  • Practice polite manners.
  • At the end of the interview ask “do you see anything in my background that would prevent me from doing this job?”
  • Always close your interview by asking, “what is the next step?”
  • Always ask for business cards so you can write your Thank you notes. Write them the next day!!
  • Please call us immediately after the interview so we can be informed and assist you in your decision.

Check out the company website to learn more about their business.

These are general tips to get you thinking about the interview process.

  • Here’s some more tips:
  • Some interviewing essentials are simple:
  • Dress appropriately. Your consultant will tell you what to wear to make the best impression in a particular company’s environment.  In general, interview attire should be professional and conservative.  Men and women should wear business suits or sharp business casual outfits and. Jeans are worn only if ok’d beforehand. Be tasteful with your jewelry. Leave most of the hardware at home.  Be clean and neatly groomed. Turn your cell phone off.
  • Arrive for the interview 15 minutes early. Relaxes you and shows interest in the client and gives you time to complete the necessary paperwork.  It also gives you time to get a feel for the company’s environment and relax. . Bring a resume.
  • Complete the application in detail and be truthful. Fill in the form neatly and completely; don’t write “see resume”.  Never misrepresent your education or work experience.  Present only the facts.  Think of the application as the first assignment the company is giving you.  Be sure to do it right!  Companies refer to the application for background checks and if something is misrepresented this could stop the hiring process on the spot.  If you are unsure about exact dates of employment or compensation put “approximately” next to the information.
  • First impressions are important! The outcome of many interviews is decided during the first ten seconds of the introduction.  Create a good impression with the following:
    • * Firm handshake                            *  Good eye contact
    • * Smile                               *  Enthusiasm
  • Say: “Hello!  Nice to meet you.  Thanks for taking the time to see me.”
  • This is important: Try to begin the interview by having the client explain the position.  People will usually lead off with the duties and responsibilities that are the most important.  Then, you should respond with the details from your background and experience that fit this particular position.  So, begin by saying something like this:
  • “I really appreciate the opportunity to meet with you today. Could you tell me more about what you’re looking for in this position?”
  • During an interview, your body language is as important as your verbal language.
  • Sit up straight. Lean forward slightly.  Maintain eye contact and smile!  This shows alertness, confidence and interest.  Never cross your arms over your chest or lean back and slouch in your chair.
  • Politely refuse offers of coffee or sodas. This is a business interview, not a social occasion, and you don’t want to be distracted.
  • Be aware of the client’s body language and what it tells you. If you see the client shuffling papers, fidgeting, or looking out the window, etc., stop talking and ask:  “What else would you like to know about my qualifications for this position?”
  • Always talk in terms of the available opportunity. Show as many similarities as you can between your background and what the client is looking for.  Educate the client on what it is you do and how it matches up.  The client is asking:  “Does this person have what it takes to be successful in this position”.  Keep it concise and to the point.  USE EXAMPLES.  Your objective is to help the client form a mental picture of you successfully performing the job.
  • Throughout the interview, speak clearly, listen closely and show interest. When the client says something that requires an answer, comment, smile or nod…REACT!
  • Emphasize what you can do for the company. Some clients ask broad questions like “Tell me about yourself.”  Don’t answer questions like this by talking about your childhood, family, or personal ambitions.  Instead, mention specific accomplishments that show your abilities and determination to succeed in THIS job.  Your answers should tell the client why you would be an asset to the company, not why you need a job.
  • If you are interested in the position, say so. For example:  “From everything we’ve talked about, I’m excited about this opportunity and believe I can get the job done.  Can you picture me being a successful member of your team?”
  • If the answer is yes, say: “Great!  What is the next step in the process?”  However; if the client expresses reservations, address those specific issues and talk about your experience as it relates to those issues, or (if you don’t have the specific experience or education), your eagerness and ability to learn quickly.
  • At the end of the interview, stand up, smile, and offer a firm handshake and say: “Thank you for seeing me today.”
  • Because human relations skills are more important than technical skills in the interviewing process, it is most important that you project an enthusiastic, professional image right from the start. From the moment you walk in, the client will be evaluating you on a variety of levels…including your appearance, your personality and the way you express yourself.  Remember, people want to work with people they like.  As a candidate represented by us, we will prepare you in advance to make the interview a success.  You’ll need to put our advice into action, smile, be friendly, and get the job offer!
  • The phone screen or phone conversation is often time the first step in the interview process.
  • Be on a landline vs. cell phone (if possible) – phone clarity always helps.
  • Don’t be in a room where the radio or TV is on, dogs barking, kids clamoring etc.
  • Don’t smoke during the interview or open cans or bottles.
  • Have your resume in front of you as well as the job description and maybe the client webpage/info.
  • Know your employment history clearly.
  • Be able to clearly and succinctly communicate why you left each company.
  • Be prepared to talk about each of your positions 1) what were your specific responsibilities 2) what tools/technology you utilized 3) the scope of the project 4) the size of the environment.
  • Smile and have energy – it makes you more likable and also makes you appear more confident.
  • Volunteer verbally that you have done some research on the company & compliment when appropriate.
  • Take some notes during the interview.  You may want to refer back to them at the end of the phone call.
  • Have intelligent questions prepared and written down on paper.  Don’t try to go by memory.
  • After you ask your question stop talking and listen well.
  •  Do not ask about hours, salary, benefits, flex time or work at home options.
  • Don’t take any calls or put the employer on hold – any interruptions will hurt the conversation.
  • If you don’t reach the employer at the designated time slot leave a message with your phone number.
  • Then be there to answer the phone and call them back in 15 minutes if you don’t hear from them.
  • Remember interruptions or delays on both sides are inevitable not personal. Things just happen.
  • Find out as early as possible “what are the 3 most important things” they’re looking for.
  • Avoid giving your opinion on anything (technology, politics, religion) unrelated to your interview.
  • Do not communicate anything negative (past bosses, co-workers, family) ever during the conversation.
  • At the end of your conversation let them know that you’re interested and qualified and why.
  • Mirror & model the person you’re speaking with.  You may need to speed up if they are talking fast and/or slow down if they are talking slower.  People like to interview people who speak just like them.
  • Be short, sweet and specific with your answers.
  • If you don’t understand a question please ask them to clarify the question. Don’t guess or assume.
  • Finish the phone conversation with as much energy as you started with.
  • Do not send a follow-up thank you letter until you have forwarded it to me first.


Below is a list of questions an employer might ask you during an interview.  Most employers look at interviews not only as a way to measure your abilities against other candidates, but also as a means of assessing your attitude, personality and mental agility.

REMEMBER:  A successful interview is one that is well planned and well prepared.  The employer’s impression of you will depend on the brief time you are in his or her office.

Don’t be modest!  SELL yourself.  Tell the employer why you are qualified to do the job.  Your self-confidence really makes the difference.

How will you answer these questions in an interview?  PRACTICE your answers.


  1. Tell me about yourself.
  1. Why are you changing jobs?
  1. What are your long-range goals? How are you preparing to achieve them?
  1. What specific goals, other than those related to your occupation, have you established for yourself in the next 10 years?
  1. What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?
  1. What do you really want to do in life?
  1. What are the most important rewards you expect in your career?
  1. What do you expect to be earning 5 years from now?
  1. Why did you choose the field you are in?
  1. Which is more important to you – the money or the career opportunity?
  1. What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  1. How would you describe yourself?
  1. How do you think a friend (or co-worker) would describe you?
  1. What motivates you to put forth your greatest efforts?
  1. How has your experience prepared you for your career?
  1. Why should I hire you?
  1. What does success mean to you?
  1. What do you think it takes to be successful in a company such as ours?
  1. In what ways can you contribute to our company?
  1. What qualities should a successful employee have?
  1. Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and an employee?
  1. What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  1. If you were hiring a candidate for this position, what qualities would you look for?
  1. In what kind of work environment are you most comfortable?
  1. How do you work under pressure?
  1. How would you describe the ideal job for you?
  1. Why did you decide to seek a job with this company?
  1. What do you know about our company?
  1. What 2 main things are important to you in your job?
  1. Will you relocate?
  1. Are you willing to travel?
  1. What hours are you willing to work?
  1. What major problems have you encountered in your career (or life) and how did you handle them?
  1. What have you learned from your mistakes?

Interview questions geared towards Management and Leadership

  • What type of company culture do you prefer to work in?  In your past positions, describe the company culture in which you have been most successful.
  • Do you have any Distribution or Operations or ?? experience & at what level (details)
  • How, if at all, have you involved direct reports in determining their developmental needs?  Give us a specific example.
  • Tell me about one of the toughest teams/groups you’ve had to work with.  What made it difficult?  What did you do?
  • Have you ever had to manage a previous peers; what was the outcome?
  • Describe the most difficult conflict you’ve ever handled.  What actions did you take to resolve the conflict?  Looking back, what would you have different?
  • Have you ever managed a person that was turned down for a same position you apply for?
  • Walk us through your Safety philosophy & beliefs?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years / 10 years?
  • What was your most difficult professional situation & Why?
  • What would your employees say about?
  • What is your management or Leadership style? How do you get things done?
  • Name one person you admire & why?
  • What are areas of development that you can improve on?
  • Describe your leadership style and how you holds employees accountable.
  • Describe your team building skills and how you develop the skills of your employees.
  • Describe how you developed and promoted the culture of the company.
  • Describe your communication / interpersonal skills (how did you communicate with your corporate office.)
  • Describe your strategic thinking skills and tell me about a strategic business initiative your implemented.
  • Describe your project management skills and describe a process improvement he implemented.
  • What would you describe as your biggest accomplishment while working at your company?  Biggest failure?

STAR INTERVIEW TYPE SCENARIOS Situation, Task, Action, Result

 Targeted Interview Process

The targeted selection interviews normally consist of two or three, one hour interviews with hiring managers in our company.   One interview will be with the hiring manager and two interviews with peer hiring managers.  The targeted selection interviews have more of a cultural/behavioral focus.

What is Targeted Selection?

The big part of the  interview process is this interview – the targeted selection interview and this is where they ultimately assess the cultural fit.  Interaction with team members is a large part of the culture.  This interview is meant to give the hiring leaders insight into how you work as a team member, what motivates you and what your definition of success is as well as a few other insights.  These interviews will not be technical interviews but there may be technical elements as you may be discussing technical scenarios in your answers.

The targeted selection interview is part of the hiring process for permanent roles. Targeted Selection is a series of three 60 minute interviews with current hiring leaders.  The questions you will receive will be more behavioral/situational based questions.  In your responses, please stick to the STAR (Situation, Task, Action and Result) format in your responses.  Please review the .pdf document attached regarding the Competencies of the Dynamic Organization to give you an idea of what U.S. Cellular as a whole is looking for in regard to cultural fit.

What is STAR format?

Situation/Task:                  What was the context?  Why?

Action:                                  What was done (or not done)?  How was it done?

Result:                                  What was the effect of the Action (or inaction)?

Example question:          Was there ever a time when you had an issue with a customer?  What was the situation?  How did you resolve it?

A good STAR answer would have the following format…

Situation/Task:                 There was a time when we had a client that was expecting delivery of X type of service and they called in wondering why they had not received.

Action:                                 What did you do to solve the problem?

Result:                                 What was the result of your action?  Was the problem solved?

There may be follow up questions to your answer so for those, feel free to stick to the STAR format for those if applicable

Evaluating Topics?

The areas that the evaluation questions will cover will be as follows:

  • Creating Customer Value
  • Pursuing and Demonstrating Technical/Professional Expertise
  • Applying Innovation and Continuous Improvement
  • Delivering Results
  • Embracing and Navigating Change
  • Collaborating Across Organizational Boundaries
  • Making Quality Decisions
  • Communicating with Impact
  • Motivational Fit

As you can see, the areas are varied but the goal is really to assess a candidate in terms of how they fit into our culture.  While there might be some technical questions, this is primarily a situational/behavior interview.  You can answer these questions with either business or non-business examples but business examples are preferred.  It is important to provide full answers or “STARs” and as many “STARs” as you can provide to have a full evaluation.

Tell about a situation / process put in place to improve / monitor quality of service / delivery of products.

Tell about a recent issued escalated to you and how you handled it?

“Success at First Glance: How to Stand Out to the Decision Maker”

Presenter Luis F. Campedelli, Global Head of HR MasterCard Technologies

Companies use hunting jargons e.g., Headhunters

A picture of a deer was shown and asked, “What do you see?”

Than a picture of a hunter was shown.

The question is: The best prey is a victim.

Never, ever, ever behave like a prey…As a candidate be the hunter and not the prey.

Best Hunters  are Attentive, Knowledgeable, Assertive, Proactive, Brave, Focused, Perseverance, Stamina.

Making a lasting first impression:

  1. Presence
  2. Substance
  3. Composure

Making a lasting first impression

Unskilled __ Overused

PRESENCE – The ability to stand out through the expressive qualities of passion, confidence, candor and sincerity.

Unskilled – Shyness and Anxiety

Overused – Arrogance and Bluntness

SUBSTANCE – The ability to convey, at the right amount, the proper balance of information through clarity, poise and thoughtfulness.

Unskilled – Not Knowledgeable, Unprepared

Overused – Perfectionism, Overselling

COMPOSURE – That’s the happiest conversation where their’s no competition, no vanity, but a calm, quiet exchange of sentiments. Samuel Johnson – 18th Century English Writer

Unskilled – Defensiveness, Cynical

Overused – Uncaring, Unemotional

Introverts are better with composure.

Extroverts look anxious.


  1. Poor personal appearance
  2. Lack of interest and enthusiasm; passive and indifferent
  3. Overemphasis on money; interested only in the best dollar offer; lying about current salary
  4. Condemnation of past employer
  5. Making derogatory comments about women, particular ethnic groups, people’s ages, physical appearance or handicap. Such comments are discriminatory and will immediately rule you out.
  6. Limp, fishy handshake
  7. Poor eye contact
  8. Late to interview
  9. Failure to express appreciation for interviewer’s time
  10. Not asking questions about the job
  11. Vague or rambling responses to questions
  12. Overbearing, overaggressive, conceited “know it all”
  13. Unable to express self clearly
  14. Lack of confidence and poise; nervous; ill at ease
  15. Lack of planning for career; no purpose or goals
  16. Unwillingness to start at bottom
  17. Lack of tact and manners.
  18. Lack of vitality
  19. Lack of maturity
  20. Indecision
  21. Makes excuses, hedges on unfavorable factors in record, evasive
  22. Merely shopping around
  23. Wants job only for short time
  24. No interest in company or industry; has not looked at company website
  25. Cynical
  26. Low moral standards
  27. Lazy
  28. Intolerant; strong prejudices
  29. Inability to take criticism
  30. High pressure type
  31. Narrow interests
  32. Asks about hours and time off.
  33. Doesn’t want to work overtime.
  34. Answers cell phone during interview-or cell phone/pager rings during interview.
  35. Argues with interviewer about technology.
  36. Admits that he cannot get along with co-workers.
  37. Clips nails, chews gum or eats candy, even if offered.


Salary negotiation is an issue that many people don’t know how to handle correctly.  Consequently, they end up making less than they might have, or being ruled out for job opportunities they really wanted.

Everyone wants to earn as much money as they possibly can.  As one of the select candidates, you should realize that an important part of our service is to provide assistance as a third party to negotiate the best possible employment offer.

Many people believe salary negotiation comes at the end of the interview process but it actually starts at the beginning, when you fill out the company’s application.  Always write “open” in the space for salary desired.  Never write a figure.  This could rule you out before the interview begins!

The attitude to convey during the interview is that you are excited about the position, eager to do the job, and willing to work hard.  Express your interest and enthusiasm about the opportunity to contribute to the company.  Don’t create the impression that you are only interested in personal gain by saying or implying that the highest dollar offer is your only consideration.  That will also rule you out.

Be prepared to respond to questions about money.  Practice your answers in advance so you will feel comfortable during the interview.  For example, an employer may ask how much money you’re looking for.  Respond by saying:  “At this point I am focused on the opportunity and I feel it is a great match to my technical and professional needs.  I am very interested in joining your team. I would be interested in a competitive offer based on my qualifications and professional experience.”

If, however, the employer presses you for an actual salary figure, tell the employer what you are currently making.  Example:  “Currently; I am at a base salary of $90,000 with a $10,000 bonus for the year.  I would be interested in a competitive offer based on my qualifications and professional experience.”  It is a good idea to give your potential employer a starting point.  This will enable them to recognize what your compensation is at this point so they know how to create a competitive offer.

If you say:  I would like to be at a base salary of $95,000; the top of the range may have been $100,000.  You might be cheating yourself out of more income.  At the same time if you say too much ($110,000) the employer could think you are too expensive and you could not be eligible for the position all together.  This is why it is important to be honest about your previous compensation.  Let them know your salary with bonus and say you are open to considering an offer that is competitive to your previous income.  Try not to volunteer the figure that you would accept THIS position for.  We will negotiate the best offer for you.

The best scenario is when the employer offers you the position on the spot!  WOW!  That is ideal.  If you are in this situation feel free to accept on the spot.  If you are not really sure and would like to take time to evaluate the entire package the company can offer; thank the employer.  Example:  “This is great, thank you for offering me this position.  I would like to take some time to review all of the offer information and get back to you on my final decision.”  Never refuse an offer of employment until you’ve had time to think about it and discuss it with your technical recruitment consultant.  Remember we are here for you and will be able to help you in this process.

Most importantly, we’re here to help.  Your best interests are our best interests.  We have a “partnership” to get you the best possible offer your skills can command.

Interview Question Guide (Potential Questions)

Typical questions asked by Interviewers:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why are you looking to change positions?
  • Why did you change jobs when you did (for every job change)?
  • Tell me what you consider to be your strengths and what you consider to be your weaknesses?
  • What salary are you looking for?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What do you like most about your current job (or manager)? What do you like least?
  • Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  • What is the best thing that your manager will say about you? What is the worst?
  • Name five adjectives that would best describe you.
  • What has been your most important professional accomplishment?

Typical questions every Candidate should ask:

  • Could you tell me about the growth plans for the company (the department)?
  • What is the greatest challenge I will face in this position? What will be my responsibilities?
  • What skills do you feel are important to be successful in this position.
  • To reconfirm strength: “That is very interesting.  Let me tell you about my background and what I have done as a professional that has prepared me so well for this position.”
  • Overcoming a weakness: “How important is that skill to this job?”
  • Mr. Interviewer, I don’t have that specific background, but I am bringing the following skills to the job…” (give examples) “Let’s talk about how you can help me in the one area that I’ve had less exposure to.” (Alternative:  “How long would it take to learn that skill?”)
  • Why did you join this company?
  • Is there anything in my background or experience to prevent you from considering me as a viable candidate?
  • What is the next step from here?

Other Interviewing Tips:

  • Plan to arrive early for your appointment. Try to drive to the location a day or two before so that you know exactly where you are going the day of the interview.
  • Dress conservatively and professionally.
  • Greet the interviewer with a smile and a firm handshake.
  • Establish good eye contact early in the interview.

11 Best Job Interview Preparation Tips

By:  Brie Weiler  Director of Online Content

Do some serious company research.

Job interview preparation begins with research. “Research the company and for larger companies the division you would be working in. LinkedIn, Jigsaw, the company website and social media all provide information that will be useful.  Also, job evaluation websites where former and current employees talk about their jobs is helpful to get an idea of what to expect.  When I apply for the job, I start a Google Alert for the company and I review everything I find there.”

Research your interviewer online.

“I search LinkedIn for the interviewer’s profile. It helps to know what the person looks like, but I also like having some background information on them as well. In some instances the person I have interviewed with has been connected to the same people I am and I can get the scoop on the company or person in advance.”  Understanding who will be interviewing you is a great job interview preparation tip.

Make connections between your experience and what this company needs.

“Most importantly, I review the job description carefully and takes notes on how my experience relates to each of the requirements.”

Practice answering typical interview questions out loud.

“Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse answering questions you think a potential employers will ask (why do you want to work for us, what are your plans in five years, what makes you the applicant they should hire, as well as explaining oddities on your resume e.g. work gaps, etc).” Job interview preparation is extremely important if you want to sound professional and prepared.

Bring nice copies of your resume and cover letter.

“I always go over and update my resume, print off several copies of my resume on off-white special paper I pick out at my copy center, and take these printed copies with me along with a company specific cover letter. Resumes tell a lot about you along with your personal appearance and can forge a nice first impression.”

Create a small portfolio of work samples.

“The other thing I do that makes me feel as though I’ve prepared as completely as possible is to gather any samples of my work that prove my skills – Powerpoints, spreadsheets, correspondence – whatever I can use to showcase myself.”

For video job interviews, practice ahead of time.

“I am also sure to practice with my webcam, prior to interviewing remotely, to be sure I am sitting far enough away that I appear to be making eye-contact with my interviewer. If you sit too close to your webcam, you tend to look as if you are looking down at your keyboard rather than paying attention to the person who is asking you questions.”

Ready your outfit ahead of time.

“I have my personal ritual where I check out my suit the night before, iron my shirt, and polish up my shoes.”

Psych yourself up to get confident.

“My ritual is emotional: on the way to the interview, I think about my really wonderful friends and why they believe in me. I am not one to go around thinking how wonderful I am, but before a job interview, this allows me to take a deep breath and enter the interview confident and happy.”

Put on a happy face.

“My other trick is to sing “If you are happy and you know it clap your hands” before I enter the building.  There is nothing like a simple song in the key of C to brighten your voice and make you sound merry and chipper!”

Make sure you know where you’re going.

“If you have prior notice, do a trial run [trip to the company] to make sure you know the traffic pattern and parking availability!”

If you follow these job interview preparation tips before your next interview, you’re sure to be confident, prepared, and ready to land the job!

Good Luck with the interview and remember to just be yourself and do your best,

Paul May

Interview Tips from Paul May Associates

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