Getting the most out of your interview!

Getting the most out of your interview!

The job application process can be painful. 

Navigating various application systems and websites without ever even talking to a real person, can feel hopeless.

You fill out a 2-3 page application form.  Attach a resume.  Enter the exact information that was already in your resume.  24 hours later, receive an automated email response: “thank you for applying.”  2-4 weeks later, receive another automated email response: “We have reviewed your application. However, we have decided to move forward with other candidates.” Repeat.

After all that, just getting to an interview can feel like a reliefthat is, until the anxiety of preparing for the interview kicks in. The idea of interviewing is enough to make anyone’s palms sweat and heart race, but there are ways to set your self up for success, and to understand if this job is really the best fit for you. 

Let’s focus on some practical ways to get the most out of the interview!  

Prepare in advance.

  • Research the company. Understand their products, customers, mission, values.
  • Research the interviewers.  Are you talking with HR? The CEO? A Software Development Manager? Those are three different conversations.
  • Go into the interview with the mindset that this is THE JOB you want.  If they feel you don’t want the job, then I wouldn’t expect an offer.
  • Bring three copies of your resume and a notepad to write on.
  • Three questions are coming:
  1. Tell me about yourself? This should be a 4-5 sentence professional summary, including an accomplishment you’re incredibly proud of.
  2. Tell me a time when you failed & how you worked through it?  Take ownership of a failure and emphasize what you’ve learned. This example can also shape the entire tone of the interview.  Personalize the message, help them feel your pain and growth.
  3. Why do you want the job? If you don’t know this answer, that’s going to be problematic.

Get clarity on the job.

  • Ask questions. Three Priorities:
    1. What are the position’s core technical responsibilities?  If you know these, then you can be clear about your relevant experience.
    2. What are the pain points?  You might be able to provide advice or a solution during the interview.
    3. How will you add the most value to the company immediately? This adds clarity to what the first couple months look like, no surprises.
  • When they ask questions about experience that you don’t have, confirm if that experience is significant to the job.

Understand career advancement opportunities.

  • Is there a specific career path for this role or a precedent that has been set?
  • Is there an expectation of advancement after a year or two?
  • Let’s say you don’t have the experience required for the Software Developer job that you’re interviewing for.  I know several companies that hire candidates for QA or Product Support jobs and discuss a plan to transition to a Software Developer position within a clear time frame.  Ask if there is a precedent for a path like this.
  • What do the most successful employees do well?

Define work culture.

Answers to these questions should provide insight into the company culture:

  • How does leadership empower employees?
  • How does change happen?
  • What are a few of the real values in the DNA of the company?
  • Tell me about a time when you felt overwhelmed, what happened? How was it resolved?
  • How did leadership communicate with employees during the pandemic? Did you feel supported?

Give them a recap of what you heard.

  • Because, once you have clarity on the reality of the job & you know that you have the skills to do the job, then you should be able to observe the body language and communication of the interviewer, that tends to reveal the answer. You are looking for agreeable head nods and language describing how you will be effective in this role.
  • This approach also creates space if there’s a disconnect. The interviewer can add clarity and then you can provide a better explanation of your experience and emphasize your interest.
  • Repeat the three focus items (responsibilities, pain, and value) and emphasize your fit and interest.

Salary negotiation.

  • First, emphasize job fit, team fit, company fit, and then tell them “I’m looking for your best offer.”
  • I recommend providing a salary range for similar jobs that you’re interviewing for & for your skills.
  • If your salary is above average, then be ready to provide examples of what differentiates you from your peers.
  • Remember, if money is your #1 priority, that tends to show.

Can I promise an offer if you follow this advice?  No.  There are too many unknown variables in play. But with this approach, you should be able to make a good impression and understand (before receiving feedback) if this opportunity is the right fit or not. Additionally, the experience of the interview should be more pleasant.

Big picture… Use your network.  Be diligent in the process.  Contact Tech Talent Link for interview prep advice.


Tech Talent Link becomes PDX Women in Tech Bronze Sponsor

Tech Talent Link is invested in the Portland community. We have been a part of Portland Women in Technology (PDXWIT) since the beginning stages of the organization, when Susan Robinson, CEO of Tech Talent Link, attended one of their first networking events in 2012. At that time, it was only around a dozen women meeting in a bar, but Susan jumped at the chance to get involved and volunteered her time during the beginning stages of the mentorship program and job seeker tables.

In 2014, Megan, Founder and current President of PDXWIT, voiced the need for some assistance putting on various networking events. Annie Schrock, TTL Talent Connector, leaped in to helped run things behind the scenes during this vital period for the organization. Her work as one of the organization’s first volunteers ensured that they were able to continue putting on these events, and Annie has seen them grow from 30-40 attendees to over 250! In 2016, when PDXWIT became a non-profit, Annie was asked to be one of the founding board members. She is currently in her second term and has served as Secretary for almost four years.

In addition to our history of volunteer service with PDXWIT, Tech Talent Link has also recently had the opportunity to provide financial support to the organization by becoming a Bronze sponsor. This will help PDXWIT support its operations and fund their Scholarship Program, State of the Community Survey, and many more amazing programs. Tech Talent Link is very proud to work with this organization and looks forward to continuing our support.

Ben Newbill

Ben Newbill joins the Tech Talent Link Team

Tech Talent Link is excited to announce that Ben Newbill is joining the Tech Talent Link Team as a Lead Talent Connector.  He brings 15 years of technical recruiting experience in the Portland area.  Ben started his career in recruiting when Susan Robinson hired him as a Recruiting Assistant at ATSI Group, and she is thrilled to be working with him again.  His role will include account management, recruiting, and training the team as we grow.


He is a connector who believes in building authentic relationships. For him, partnering with candidates and clients throughout the interview process is the most fulfilling part of the job.


Ben is married with three kids and lives in Lake Oswego.  He enjoys volunteering at Oregon Food Bank, paddle boarding on the Willamette, golfing (15 handicap), coffee, whiskey, wheat beer, and mindfulness breathing.