The Top 3 Things You MUST do During a Job Interview

Kevin McElroy
4 min readJan 8, 2021


Interviewing is not easy, intuitive or even remotely normal. Here’s a quick checklist to read right BEFORE you go into your interview. Good luck!

Congratulations on getting an interview. You probably already realize that you are in a privileged space. Many people in similar circumstances have not received an email back, let alone an interview request.

It would be a real shame if you blew the interview…

Most people are so excited (aka, nervous) that they forget one or more key things to say, do and ask — especially if they feel like the interview has gone well.

People understandably want to quit while they’re ahead and get out of the room/call as fast as possible before they make a mistake.

The real mistake isn’t tripping over your words or not giving a great answer to a question — the real mistake is missing opportunities to show the interviewer that you’re right for the job, you’re ready for the job, you’re a pleasant person to be around and most importantly: you want the job.

So here are some tips to help you relay that information to your interviewer. I’m not going to give you standard advice like “Make eye contact and smile.” Of course you should smile and make eye contact.

No, these tips are specific beats you MUST hit in order to put yourself in the best position to get the offer.

Relax. You’ll do great:

  1. If you’re asked a question, it’s ALWAYS ok to take a breath or two or 12 to compose your thoughts, calm your nerves and come up with the answer you want to give. Doing so is just a good idea — especially if you’re nervous — but it also gives the appearance of being a thoughtful, independent person who won’t rush to do something just to get it done. It shows you’re interested in being a quality thinker and worker. It shows you care about how you present your work and your ideas. Take a look at this video of Keanu Reeves, VERY thoughtfully considering a question:

Be like Keanu.

2. Ask tough questions! One of my go-to questions that always puts the interviewer on the back-foot (in a nice way) is: “how much turnover has your firm experienced in this role?”
Tough questions, again, reveal you to be a thoughtful person. Asking this kind of question shows that you want to stick around for the long haul. You’re not treating this role as a stepping-stone: you want to be a part of a long-term arrangement that’s beneficial for yourself and the firm.

Consider asking questions that are more specific to your field. Stuck on the kinds of questions to ask? Take a look at the Joel Test: a list of questions that programmers use to find out if a project/team/company has all the right stuff to make them want to be a part of the show:

Before the interview, come up with at least 3 of these types of questions. Plan on asking at least one. You probably won’t have time for all 3, but it’s good to be prepared in case the interviewer is especially taciturn or curt — or if they they plaintively ask if you have anymore questions…

3. Most importantly, if you want the job, you should tell the interviewer.
Interviewers might talk to a dozen people before they offer the job to someone. If the candidates are all about the same level of qualified (they probably are, considering most hiring managers use a bot to comb through relevant resumes), who do you think will get the job — the person who says “thank you, goodbye,” or the person who says they want the job?

Now, some people might incorrectly trot out the bold, cliché question: “When can I start!”

But that’s presumptuous and pushy. Instead, try something like, “I know you’re probably speaking to several other qualified candidates, but I want to make it clear that I am very interested in this position and I would love to join your team in this role.”

In the same vein: don’t skip the thank you card. At the very least, send an email to the interviewer thanking them for the interview and reiterating your interest. Consider writing the thank you card before you even get the interview so you can mail it that day. That way, you can go straight to the bar after your interview and drop the thank you note off in a mailbox on the way.

And if the job is NOT what you’re looking for, don’t be afraid to tell them. You would want them to give you the same information if your roles were reversed.

Best of luck. And if you have any questions, concerns or you’re losing your tenuous grasp on reality, please feel free to send me a message: