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Show Up at the Interview

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Explain engaging interview body language.
  • Answer questions about strengths and weaknesses.
  • Ask value- and priority-based questions during an interview.

This is it. Today is interview day. It’s time to review several tips and tricks you can use to make the day a success. 

Present Your Whole Self

Interviews are about communication. 

  • You communicate about your professional self and goals with your elevator pitch.
  • You communicate your skills and experience with the examples you’ve prepared.

You can communicate with your body language, or mannerisms, as well—things like excitement about the role, engagement with the person across from you, and so on. 

The Leeds School of Business advocates for active engagement in the interview. Think of these as tools that can emphasize your elevator pitch and answers to interview questions. This list is non-exhaustive; and if something doesn’t feel comfortable to you, or it runs counter to your culture, you don’t have to use it.

The key is that you should be confident and authentic in your conversations. 

Practice Active Engagement

Actively engage in the interview process with empathy—this is key to any successful conversation, let alone an interview. However, often our brains are busy and have so many racing thoughts, it can be hard to slow down and be mindful in the moment. But when done right there is an immense impact. 

Practice the following if you are able to do so.

Active Engagement Practice
Listen actively with respect and mindfulness. Something as simple as your body posture can help.
  • Turn your body to the speaker.
  • Uncross arms or put down your phone.
  • Make eye contact.
Demonstrate that you are actively listening by saying things like:
  • “That’s a great idea.”
  • “To your point …”
Avoid talking over others. Catch yourself when you interrupt others and make space for others to speak.
  • Practice pausing, reflecting, and responding to what you recently heard before making the next point.
  • “I’m sorry, I interrupted you. Please, finish your thought.”
Observe your own behavior.
  • Am I following the above points?

Something that can help before, during, and after an interview—breathing. Just take a few breaths to focus your thoughts. Studies show that a few moments of mindfulness can immediately change behavior.

There is a balance between acting confident and engaged in an interview, and being overconfident or rude. If you have prepared your elevator pitch and are ready with clear examples of your experience, you will most likely be more natural and at ease during the interview. In other words, the body language you want to use may come without a second thought!

Address Challenging Questions Directly

There can be questions that stump you in an interview, just like there will be questions that you saw coming and are prepared to answer. No matter what comes your way, it’s best to keep your resume in mind. Your resume is what intrigued them to call you in for an interview in the first place. 

Here are some tips on how to go about answering challenging questions, especially those focused on strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Strengths. Think about what sets you apart from every other candidate (that last part of your elevator pitch). This answer should be more than just saying “I’m organized” or “I’m hard working.” That’s too general. Think of words that stand out, like “perseverant,” “analytical,” or “proactive” and then back them up with examples, the stories you practiced in the previous unit.
  • Weaknesses. Be careful here. Honesty is important, but not at the expense of selling yourself short. Think of something that affects only you and not your ability to do this job. The best answer to a question like, “Tell us about a weaknesses you have,” follows up with something positive. Talk about how you’re actively working on improving upon said weakness.


More on addressing the weaknesses question: for example, if you struggle with prioritizing tasks, talk about how you manage this by creating lists, using your calendar, and even taking advantage of free project management tools to stay on track when needed.

Interview the Interviewer

You’ve almost made it through the interview! You prepared what you needed to prepare, you’ve answered the questions, and now the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for us?”

The answer should almost always be "yes." 

First of all, asking questions shows continued interest in the position. It also allows you to further assess how the company fits with your values and priorities.

Try to have 3–5 questions that provide you more insight into the company culture, highlight goals related to the role or the department, or is a clarifying question. 

The Leed’s School of Business calls out good questions to ask at the end. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • What does professional development look like at this company?
  • What’s the number-one thing you’re hoping this new person can do for your organization?
  • What is the company’s plan for the next year and how does this department fit in?
  • What is the most rewarding part of your job?
  • What’s the single most important skill needed to succeed in this role?

A note on that last question—you can modify it to ask about the most important trait for the team, the company, or the industry. Consider following up by asking how they anticipate that need to change in the coming years so you understand how they’d like you to evolve.

Now questions that should be avoided—avoid anything you can find on the web through your own research. And try to avoid anything regarding salary unless the interviewer asks you for your salary expectations.

Interview Done, Time to Go Home?

Well, it’s not yet time to call it a day. First, the above day-of interview tips are just a start. You can find more preparation materials in the Resources section below. Then, in the next unit, you learn about trends in interviewing and special cases, like the aptly named case interview.


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