How to Land the Job - An Interview with Kathryn Paulson

Alli Kelly

Interviewing is one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences during the job hunt. You spend your time trying to convince a stranger that you are a capable, competent adult without coming off like a know-it-all. You present yourself as a professional, but you also want to show your personality. It’s a balancing act and one that we don’t get a ton of training on. To help ease some of this anxiety, I sat down with Kathryn Paulson, a seasoned Talent Acquisition Lead with ten years of experience under her belt. Here she gives us the inside scoop on how to show up as the best version of yourself during an interview. 

Is it important to prepare for interviews? 

“Prepping will help you feel more confident and calm during your interview. You will feel more in control and in turn, will provide more thoughtful and meaningful answers throughout the interview.”

What prep work should one do prior to the interview? 

“Research, research, research! Look at the company website, check out the feedback on Glassdoor, read through public articles regarding the organization. Go on LinkedIn and search for individuals that currently work on the team or at the company and find out a bit more about their backgrounds. Lastly, practice interviewing. Have someone ask you interview questions similar to the ones I provided and practice your responses.”

Is it appropriate to add your future interviewers on LinkedIn if the recruiter provided their names? 

“Yes, absolutely! Feel free to add an intro message as well (e.g. ‘Looking forward to meeting with you on xx date’)”

How do I handle interviewing during the workday?

“I think this all depends on the duration of the interview(s). If you are going to be leaving the office to interview for several hours, it is best to formally ask for a day off. If it is a 30-45 minute phone/video interview, then I think you are okay to block your calendar and make up that time after.”

What if the interviewer asks me a question I cannot answer?

“Be honest, but inquisitive! Say something like, ‘That is a great question. I am not quite sure of the answer off the top of my head, but let me do a bit more research and I can follow up after the interview.’”

What do I do if the interviewer makes an inappropriate comment or asks a question that makes me uncomfortable? 

“First off, this can be a huge red flag and I would recommend reconsidering your interest in the role depending on how inappropriate the comment or question was. Secondly, I would be honest. It is okay to let them know that you don’t feel comfortable answering that question or responding to that comment.”

What are some common questions I should have answers prepared for?

“Why are you interested in this role?

How does your skill set and experience translate into this role?

What is a strength and area of opportunity for you?

Where do you see yourself in five years?

What would you do in your first 90 days in this role?

Tell me about a time when you worked through adversity at work.”

What are the best questions to ask the interviewers to understand if this company is right for me? 

“This really depends on what is most important for you in your next role (e.g. compensation, location, company mission, diversity and inclusion, upward mobility). I recommend taking some time to understand what drives your happiness at work and focus on those main areas while you ask questions about the role or company during the interview process.

Example questions:

Is there opportunity for career advancement in this role?

What is your company’s stance on diversity and inclusion?

What do you (the interviewer) enjoy most about working at X company?

Is the company flexible with working hours when I need to take my child to the doctor or they become ill and I have to stay home with them?”

If an interviewer asks what my interests are, should I lean into my personal life, or stay strictly professional?

“Definitely share your professional interests but don’t hesitate to mention your personal interests as well. This can be a great opportunity to be authentic and connect with the interviewers.”

In many parts of the world, interviews are taking place virtually. What would be your best advice for someone participating in a video interview?

“Test out the technology and practice! Turn on your computer camera to make sure you are centered on the screen and the lighting is clear. Ensure you are interviewing in a quiet area and dress professionally just like you would for an in-person interview.”

Are thank you notes still a thing? Is there a more updated way to connect with my interview panel after the fact?

“Although thank you notes may not be as common these days, sending one can really set you apart from the other candidates. I would recommend emailing everyone that you interviewed with and sending them an individual personalized ‘thank you’ note.”

Remember to enter your interview with confidence. If the employer didn’t think you were qualified, or was not interested in you, they wouldn’t have requested an interview! You are there for a reason, take advantage of this moment to show how great you are.

Alli Kelly

"Feminism is for everyone. We all need to take an active part in deconstructing the way the patriarchy has shaped us as women. Get educated, get out there, and make a difference for yourself and your sisters."

2 comments on “How to Land the Job - An Interview with Kathryn Paulson

  1. The very root of your writing while sounding reasonable in the beginning, did not really settle properly with me after some time. Someplace within the paragraphs you were able to make me a believer unfortunately just for a short while. I however have got a problem with your leaps in assumptions and one would do well to fill in all those breaks. In the event you actually can accomplish that, I could surely end up being impressed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *