Mastering the Interview from Both sides of the Table: Tips for Job Seekers and Employers on the Interview Process

In this webinar, Rich Serby and Jessica Touchard of GeoSearch, are joined by Laura Thorne, The Environmental Career Coach, to talk about how to master the interview process as an interviewer and as one who is being interviewed.

Most professionals are not trained to conduct interviews, so what are some things to keep in mind to make an interview situation more comfortable?

  • Pay attention to the setting. If you are interviewing a salesperson, conducting the interview around a conference table with a big team of people would be appropriate. However, if you are interviewing for a technical position, conducting the interview at a workstation with a smaller group of people would be more appropriate.
  • In your introductions, remember to share some basics about the industry and your company. Be sure to share what makes your company stand out.
  • Remember to ask open-ended questions. Starting with something like, “tell me about yourself” can help put the candidate at ease. If you are interviewing someone for a technical role, you will need to ask specifically closed-ended questions to be certain of their knowledge.
  • Make sure you only ask questions that are legal and appropriate. Inappropriate questions include questions about their personal life (marital status, age of children, etc.). It is acceptable for candidates to provide those answers without being asked.
  • Ask the candidate if they have any questions.
  •  “Is there a question you were not asked that you would like to answer?” This allows the candidate to provide any other information they believe you should know about them and their qualifications.
  • “What would you like to know more about us/the position for which you are applying?” This question can provide insight into what the candidate is looking for in a position.

Video platforms are being utilized more for the interviewing process. Technology companies are using this format, in part, to weed out applicants based on their ability or inability to utilize technology. Companies are using tools like Skype, conference calls, and recorded videos, some of which are timed. Some of the recorded videos also allow you to practice.

Some questions to ask yourself when preparing for a video interview are:

  • How are you dressed?
  • What will the interviewers see in the background on your side of the camera?
  • How do you sound? Be sure to limit or eliminate any distracting sounds (i.e. pets, family, etc.).

You can do this in part by practicing a dry run on a platform like Skype to see and hear how you will be received. Make sure you are prepared to answer the questions in a way that makes you memorable.

An advantage of video interviews is that the employer can better utilize their travel budget for final-round interviews. Video interviews can also allow interviewees with an accent to better present themselves compared to a telephone interview.

Employers need to take care that the technology does not unwittingly eliminate otherwise qualified candidates. Employers are on the candidate’s side and want them to succeed in the interview!
The interviews which benefit both the company and the candidate are those which are comfortable and have a conversational flow to them. Companies would also benefit from remembering the personality type of the majority of people in the field they are interviewing in. For instance, if you are interviewing accountants you probably don’t want unexpected surprises in the interview.

Candidates need to remember that they can and should ask questions about what to expect in the interview from the person setting up the interview. Common questions include:

  • How many people will be in the interview?
  • Will there be any type of test?

Tests can also be incorporated into the interview. Sometimes the tests are actively or passively monitored. If you don’t know the answer, do your best to problem solve to find the answer. Tests can be conducted on-site or virtually as a way to determine that the candidate has a level of proficiency for the job.

Here are some of the questions asked by the webinar audience with some tips offered by our panel of experts:

  • How do you handle the popular question, “What are your weaknesses?” Be sure to speak about how you are working to improve and how you compensate for your weaknesses. Everyone has them, be prepared to acknowledge your weaknesses and share how you work with them.
  • How do you handle employment gaps, frequent job shifts, layoffs, and business failures? There is no need to be embarrassed. Be honest about what happened and share what you have done to get back on track. If you believe this is causing your resume to be overlooked, make sure you address these challenges in the cover letter.
  • Should a candidate provide a portfolio? Yes! This can be accomplished via a personal website, or an addendum to your resume. Each job seeker should also have a complete LinkedIn profile that showcases your work. List your projects, published papers, and be sure to get references on your LinkedIn profile. The best way to get references is to give them. LinkedIn is a great place to provide additional material which doesn’t neatly fit in a resume. Be sure to list your LinkedIn profile at the top of your resume.
  • What should you be cautious about regarding your social media profiles? Employers may lookup candidates on Facebook and make decisions based on what they see online. You should be careful about how you represent yourself online. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward.

Interviewers appreciate candidates who know about and are interested in their company. In all reality, interviews are a two-way street with both parties interviewing each other.

Candidates should do their homework.

  • Visit the company’s website.
  • Look up the company on LinkedIn.
  • Be familiar with the company’s mission statement.
  • In the interview ask, “What makes your company stand out?”
  • Ask the interviewer about their journey to where they are now.

Job seekers should know what is important to them.

  • Where do you want to live?
  • How much travel do you enjoy?
  • What type of company culture do you thrive in?


Remember the interview starts the moment you walk in the door.

  • Be prepared to take notes.
  • Bring copies of your resume and references.
  • Dress the best that you can. Remember they will never see you look this good again. It is typically easier to adjust your dress downward. For instance, men can remove a jacket or a tie.
  • Always ask the question, “What makes your company stand out?”

Contact GeoSearch to see how we can help you or your company