Professional Fridays: The #1 Best Technique for Acing the Interview

Interviewing is one of the most important aspects of professional development. Without a successful interview, it is not only hard to land a job, but it is also difficult to advance your career. As a college student I am not used to talking about my accomplishments. While I had received tips on interviewing, prior to PLEN, I did not realize that interviews are an opportunity to sell oneself to employers.

When I started researching my topic, I knew that I wanted to discuss less traditional interview tips. I found many great articles that discussed unique interview tips in the Wall Street Journal. One of my favorite articles discussed how to answer any interview question. I thought this article was extremely interesting because it dispelled the common belief that the success of an interview depends on the questions the interviewer asks. According to the article, the opposite is true–a job candidate can get his or her message across to the employer no matter what question the employer asks.

The article mentioned a unique job interview formula: Q = A + 1.

In this formula, “Q” is the question, “A” is the answer, the “+” is the bridge between the answer to the interviewer’s question and the message one wants to deliver, and the “1″ is the actual message one wants to deliver. Without the “+ 1″, the interviewer controls the direction of the interview. However, with the “+ 1″, the person getting interviewed can make sure to drive home their most important points.

Until I did my first mock interview with PLEN, I did not recognize the importance of asking employers questions during interviews. An article from the Nonprofit Times provided valuable information on asking questions during interviews.

I was surprised to learn that the questions I ask an employer during an interview can reflect my knowledge and interest in the position to which I am applying . It is important not to ask simple yes or no questions. It is even more important to avoid asking questions whose answers I might have overlooked while doing my background research on the company. The questions to ask during an interview should be thoughtful and should engage the employer.

Good questions to ask during an interview might discuss what the day-to-day activities in the position include or challenges the organization is currently facing. From the discussion with my fellow PLEN interns, I learned that it is acceptable to ask the employer questions in your follow-up after the interview. In fact, this can even be considered positive as it shows you are still thinking about the interview and are dedicated to the organization.


Avantika Handa is a senior Economics and Political Science major atTulane University in New Orleans. Originally from Miami, she attends Tulane ona full tuition merit-based scholarship. She participated in the Public Leadership
Education Network (PLEN) summer internship program and served as a policy and communications intern at the National Institutes of Health this past summer. After graduating in May 2012, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree and career in health policy and management. This blog post originally appeared at the Public Leadership Education Network’s Intern Blog and is cross-posted with permission.  PLEN is the only national organization whose sole focus is preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena.

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