201-888-1989 info@joelpaul.com

We are pleased to provide candidates and hiring managers, with the following job interview guidance.

One of the advantages of being represented by a search firm is the pre-interview preparation they will provide you with. At The Joel Paul Group, our purpose in preparing candidates for their interview is to help them convince the hiring manager that they are the ideal candidate for the position. The candidates’ goal is to be offered a follow up meeting or perhaps even an offer.

Before we prepare with a candidate, we always advise them to re-read the job description and be able to align with the listed responsibilities and required skills & experience. In addition, they need to research the organization. We will tell them as much as we know, about the person/people they will be meeting with.

  • The candidate needs to thoroughly understand the role and expectations of the core functions of the position.
  • The candidate needs to be prepared to market their skills and experience as it relates to the functions of the role.

During the Interview:

  • Try to maintain a 50/50 balance between talking and listening.
  • Turn every closed ended question into an open ended answer. For example, if the question is “how many people do you directly supervise”? If you answer, 5, it is a correct answer, BUT the conversation ends and the interviewer has to ask another question. The best answer is “I currently supervise a … list their titles, a total of 5 people”. That answer, may have the interviewer ask more questions related to your supervision or management style. Avoid yes or no answers.
  • With any open-ended question, reframe to understand what specifically the interviewer would like you to cover. For example, if the question is “tell me about yourself”, your response could be, “I’d love to! Is there a specific area you’d like me to start with?”
  • With any confusing, or multi-angled questions, reframe to clarify if you are responding with the type of information they are looking for. For example, if the question is “tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a supervisor”, your clarifying response could be “would you like me to discuss my relationship with my last supervisor?”
  • If you are even slightly unsure about a specific question, or need time to formulate and process your response, ask for clarification: “Can you be more specific? I want to make sure I respond accurately to what you are asking for.”
  • If asked “what would you say is your greatest weakness?” NEVER provide a weakness. It’s best to turn any weakness into strength. Say something like, “I was told that I sometimes take on too many assignments, but I have worked hard at managing my time and the projects, to insure that I align prioritization with my manager or colleagues.”
  • Avoid speaking negatively about your current situation, boss, or working environment.We advise both the candidate and client to avoid the subject of compensation, at the first interview. But, if asked, “What salary are you looking for?”, we advise candidates to reply –
    “I am confident that if we are both interested in moving forward, since we are working with search firm X, I am sure we can come to a mutually beneficial compensation arrangement. I am really here to get a feel for the opportunity, the organization, and to determine if this is the best next step for me, and I’m sure you are doing the same.”

    • At the conclusion of the interview, if asked,”do you have any questions for me?” Never say”no, not at this time.”ALWAYS have 1 or 2 questions ready, to ask, such as:
      • How do you measure success for this position? Tell me about the best person you have ever had in this position and what made that person unique.
      • If I am the hired candidate, what are the two most important projects that need to be addressed in the first 30 – 60 days? When you are working with a search firm, you need not ask”what is the next step in your process?” If interviewing without the assistance of a search firm, then it is a relevant question to ask.


  • Unless you are absolutely certain you would not like to move forward in the interviewing process, close for next steps. Ask how they perceive you fitting in to the organization, and if there are any areas that haven’t been covered that are important to the hiring decision.
  • An example close: “I like what I have heard today and am very interested in moving forward. I understand you are looking for someone in this role who has (A, B, and C) and as we’ve discussed, I have (specific experience with A, B, and C). Before I leave, are there any more questions about my background or qualifications that I can answer or clarify for you to better assess my fit within your team?”

Following the Meeting:

  • Send an email to each person that you met, thanking them for their time. Cite specifics from the meeting and further cover any areas that you think may need supplementation.

Questions that may be asked by the interviewer:

“Why are you looking?”

  • Never speak poorly about the current company, team, or boss.
  • Put the reason for leaving in the best light possible; this question provides an additional opportunity to sell, not air dirty laundry or grievances.
  • If not actively looking, be honest – but be prepared to articulate reasons for initial interest
  • Never claim the reason is correlated to poor current compensation, or for more money.

“Why do you want to work for our organization?”

  • This is the perfect opportunity for the candidate to show”Why do you want to work for our organization?” they have done their research.
  •  Make sure the candidate can articulate “why here” – what about the working environment, the reputation of the firm, the type of work, or the support of the team is compelling?
  • Help prepare the candidate to respond in a way that continues to sell for the position and role.

“Why should we hire you?”

  • At this point in the interview, the candidate should know the short list of critical areas the hiring manager is looking for.
  • Share a specific situation, what needed to be done, what the candidate did, and what the specific result was – quantify.

For candidates, visit our website to see a listing of our current client job openings.

If you are an organization looking to fill a position, please visit our website.