Got an Interview?? Think SPA!!!

By Emily Giacomini


  • Record a professional voice mail message on your phone, stating your full name so recruiters know it’s you and get a great first impression. Respond promptly to interview invitations.
  • Select your interview slot strategically. People remember what comes first or last, so take the first interview spot to set the bar for other candidates OR pick the last one to apply the “recency effect” and be top of mind for interviewers discussing which candidates will advance.
  • Pick a time when you function best e.g. bright and early if you think most clearly in the morning.


  • Request the name and title of the interviewer and interview format help you better prepare. Case preparation is very different from rehearsing behavioral questions.
  • Find the interviewer on LinkedIn and the web to understand her background and career path.
  • Research the company thoroughly. Visit the Online Resources section of HireSmith for links to Hoovers, Vault and Factiva for company financials, recent news articles and competitor info.
  • Review the 3-5-5+ you wrote for your target industry/function and revise it to create a stash of SAR stories, at least 2-3 for each skill, competency, or experience listed in the job description.
  • Identify the top three things you want to convey in the interview e.g. analytics skills, leadership across functional teams, and process improvement with examples of how you’ve delivered each.
  • Practice SAR (Situation, Action, Result) stories with your coach, Leadership Fellow and a friend for feedback. Rehearse out loud before a mirror and time responses to max. two minutes each.
  • Type up 8-11 questions to ask, covering the role, department, hiring process, items you learned about in the news etc. and direct them at a level appropriate for the interviewer.
  • Align interview mode with practice mode: if it’s a phone interview, do mocks on the phone. For video interviews, meet your buddy on Skype. For recorded interviews, use InterviewStream.
  • Reserve a room in OCS/case rooms or find another quiet space. For video, pick a plain background and adjust light sources to avoid shadows. For phone interviews, plan to stand so your voice comes from your core. Spread out notes for easy access- an ironing board can help!
  • Get some rest the night before the interview. Sleep greatly impacts your creativity to compose answers on the spot for tough questions. When you first wake up, review your SAR stories.


  • Eat breakfast to activate your brain.
  • Dress professionally even for phone or video interviews so you’re fully engaged.
  • Arrive 15 minutes early and use the time to review your TMAY or SAR stories in your head.
  • Smile! It will make you come across as approachable and even make you more relaxed.
  • Shake hands firmly, web-to-web with 1-2 pumps of the hand while making eye contact. Avoid a death grip and be sure to wipe off sweaty palms discretely before shaking.
  • Connect with the interviewer. Make eye contact, sit up straight and lean in slightly to engage.
  • Be confident that your preparation will empower you in the moment.
  • Breathe to help your mind focus. Stay present so you can respond to what the interviewer says.
  • Answer the question! Keep stories relevant to the question asked.
  • Maximize cadence by varying your voice pitch and speech tempo to indicate enthusiasm.
  • Ask thoughtful questions at the end. Show your knowledge by making inquiries that build on your research of the firm. Acknowledge the response before moving to your next question.
  • Close! As the interview ends, reiterate the top three skills you offer for the role and tell the employer you want the job e.g. “I’d love the opportunity to join your team this summer.”
  • Request the interviewer’s contact info so you can thank her later.
  • Follow-up that day with a Thank You email. To distinguish yourself, send a hand-written Thank You within 24 hours. It will remind the interviewer of your stellar candidacy a few days later.

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