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my very best interviewing advice

My Very Best Interviewing Advice: Do’s and Don’ts For Successful Interviews

by | Nov 24, 2014 | Authenticity & Transparency, By Karin Hurt, Career & Learning, Everything Else |

I’m always asked for interviewing advice– from interviewers and candidates. Of course, you need the basics. Do your homework. Hone your situational-based interview stories and don’t say anything stupid to the receptionist on the way in.

But what else?

Here’s my very best interviewing advice.

Beyond the Basics: My Very Best Interviewing Advice

Juan and I were sure this was the candidate of our dreams. His track record was solid. The awards plentiful. In fact, we’d already began to wonder if we needed to continue the search. Surely this interview was a formality and would support our intuition.

Thank God. This was our guy. Ahh… that was easy.

But as the interview continued, Juan’s face revealed the angst in my heart. Crap. How were we going to justify that this guy’s not qualified? We hadn’t listed humility in the “required” or even “desired” competencies in the job posting.

We both felt this candidate was a nightmare in the making. He wasn’t listening or open. He had a plan and was ready to execute, but had very little desire to hear what we had to say. He told us five times he was the most qualified candidate, and why we shouldn’t waste a second more on our job search.

But we couldn’t get past the cocky decorum.

Perhaps he really was as good as he said, and all the “me, me, me” stuff was just nervous energy. I’ll never know. Juan and I hired the next “best” candidate on paper. She turned out to be a rock star.

I have a mentor who tells anyone interviewing for a job, “This is not the time to be humble.” To some extent that’s true.

Interviewing is certainly not a time for self-deprecating remarks or uncertainty. Be bold in your ideas, vision and in sharing what you bring to the table.

But–the leaders you really want to work for will also be looking for a humble streak. They want to see that you’re willing to learn, can lead from behind, and are open to new ideas. If you’re that kind of leader, don’t hide those rare and precious qualities.

The best candidates interview with confident humility.

My Best Interviewing Advice: Approach the Interview With Confident Humility

Winning Well: A Manger's Guide to Getting Results without Losing Your SoulFor more see our book: Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results–Without Losing Your Soul 

Confidence Says...I’m smart and extremely qualified.
Humility Reveals...I’m eager to understand your culture.

Confidence Says... My skills are highly transferable.
Humility Reveals...I’m open to new approaches.

Confidence Says...I have a long track record of success.
Humility Reveals…I like to surround myself with strong talent.

Confidence Says...I’m a quick study.
Humility Reveals...I’m eager to learn.

Confidence Says…I’m a visionary.
Humility Reveals...Vision is nothing without solid execution. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way.

Confidence Says…I know I can make a difference for your organization.
Humility Asks…If I were in this role, what could I do to make your job easier?

See Also: One Common Interviewing Mistake That Will Cost You Your Job

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. Steve Borek

    Lots of great advice.

    I mentor students at Syracuse University regarding interviewing skills.

    What I see lacking is passion for what they do. This can mean they’re not jazzed about the job. Or, they love it but aren’t showing it.

    If you don’t love it you should look for something that lights you up.

    • Karin Hurt

      Steve, So agree. It’s really obvious when people aren’t into it. If you don’t really want the job, you’re doing noone any favors by “going for it.”

  2. LaRae Quy

    Oh, I’ve been in interview situations like that as well…you think you have the perfect candidate on paper and then you meet them in person and WOW—what a back peddle!

    Whether they’re trying too hard to impress, or just not selling themselves…it’s hard to know either way.

    One thing I’ve found helpful for me is to anticipate the questions I’ll be asked ahead of time and then “rehearse” those answers, either on video or in front of a mirror. Having a trusted friend listening to your response may help as well…

    • Karin Hurt

      Larae, I so agree.The more prepared you can be the better.

  3. Terri Klass

    Interviewing takes a lot of finessing which can be difficult if a person is feeling insecure or nervous. I love the idea of making sure that humility is part of the process because it forces candidates to be more authentic and clearer.

    I also think that when someone thinks they are going to take over right away in a new job and not first learn about what the team and organization are currently doing, that is a recipe for disaster. I just saw this happen in a volunteer position with an individual who only wants to redo every aspect of the organization. Unfortunately she forgot that being human was most important.

    Thanks Karin for a terrific post!

    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, Thanks so much. Being human makes all the difference.

  4. Alli Polin

    Oh my gosh I feel like I’ve interviewed that guy! In fact, I can remember a guy who spent so much time telling me how amazing he was, not only did he completely turn me off but also made me think that he would hate the position because he wouldn’t be leading the whole show. Humility is often such a hard quality to put into words, you’ve done an excellent job here. Thanks!

    • Karin Hurt

      Alli, Thanks so much. I wonder if it was the same guy 😉

  5. Kalyna Hanover

    Very nice.
    I believe I have been presenting myself this way.
    However it’s a great confirmation and reminder that I must continue to stay aware and balanced.

    Thank you.


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