Interviewing Tips

This piece came to mind because I am often surprised by how many people haven’t really thought about what type of position is the best fit for them. When I ask candidates or clients the question, “Describe your ideal position,” I often get answers such as, “I am pretty much open to anything,” or “I am not really sure.” These answers are reasonable for recent graduates, but for more senior individuals, it is important to have a well-thought out answer when asked to describe your ideal position.

There a few reasons it’s beneficial to know what type of position is the best fit for you. First, you should target positions you know will bring you happiness and fulfillment. Being miserable in a job can have a negative impact on all aspects of your life. Why not love what you do? Second, recruiters and hiring managers are impressed when candidates can clearly articulate their ideal position.  Third, having a target job in mind helps you streamline your job search. Instead of spending time randomly applying for any job that sounds reasonably appealing, you can focus on applying for jobs that match your skills and experience.

How do you figure out what your ideal position entails? Introspection is the key. By asking yourself the following questions below, you will have a better understanding of yourself and the type of job that will be the best fit for you.

1)      What are my strengths? If you don’t know what your strengths are, think about the positive feedback you have received from managers, co-workers, and friends. What are you naturally good at? When do you tend to shine the most?

A few years ago I met a Software Architect who told me he made a major career change and went from working in academia to becoming a Project Manager for a large company in the software industry. When “Project Manager” came out of his mouth, we both started laughing together because it was clear this type of role was not at all the right fit for him. After a few years of struggling as a PM and not being at all happy, he finally transitioned to a Software Architect role.  In this new role he really thrived and found a much more natural job fit.

 2)      What are my motivations for wanting a certain title or position? If you want to become a manager for example, think long and hard if this is the right position for you. Do you possess strong interpersonal skills? Are you passionate about developing people and helping them reach their full potential? Are you comfortable with conflict? Do you exude a confidence that makes people believe in you as a leader? Are you at ease making final decisions when the answers aren’t always clear? These are just a few questions to ask yourself if you think the management path is the right one for you.  For other types of positions, think about what traits and skills are required to be successful. Then do an honest self-assessment to determine if you possess these same traits and skills.

 3)      What type of work energizes me? Think about your current position and past positions. What aspects of these positions did you love?  When you are truly passionate about what you do, you look forward to going to work each day. If the alarm goes off and you think, “Great, another day at the office….sigh,” it’s time to think about making a career change.

A couple of weeks ago I was speaking to a fellow colleague in Human Resources and his passion was truly contagious. He said, “I can’t believe I get paid to do what I love every day.” How many people are this energized and passionate about their jobs?

 4)      If you could do anything and not worry about a paycheck, what would you do? If fear didn’t stand in the way, what changes would you make in your career? Maybe you would go back to school, start your own business, or ask for a promotion.  

A common theme I see with my clients is that they want to make career changes but they are terrified of doing so. What are my clients afraid of? Failing. Disappointing others. Making a mistake. Giving up a title or salary. These are just some of the issues that have come up in my coaching practice. When you really take a step back and disengage yourself from fear, you realize just how powerful fear factors into the decisions you make about your life. Once you are able to overcome fear, all of a sudden the whole world opens up.

As a personal note, when fear ruled my life, I felt like the clown trapped in a jack-in-the-box with the lid tightly sealed shut. I was quite unhappy and felt my soul was dying. Once I addressed fear and moved past it, I made significant changes in my life that prompted the jack-in-the-box lid to spring open. With fear no longer suffocating me, I felt free and saw a world of endless opportunities.

 5)      What type of legacy do I want to leave? This is a question I myself had to ponder after meeting with a Director of a non-profit last summer. She left a lucrative six figure job in the private sector and took a 50% pay cut to become a Director at a non-profit. I asked this woman what prompted her to make such a major career change. She said, “I want to leave a legacy and this new job allowed me that opportunity.” I was lucky to meet with this Director a number of times and what stood out about this woman was her drive and passion. By leading a life of purpose, this Director truly felt she was making a positive impact in the world.

These are just a few key questions to ask yourself before you embark on a job search or begin actively interviewing.  The more introspective you are, the better decisions you will make about the next steps in your career.

Colleen Canney is a Career, Life, and Wellness Coach. She can be reached via email at For more information on Colleen’s coaching services, please visit


2 Responses to “Interviewing Tips”

  1. Rivlin Says:

    Lovely post colleen I agree with all the examples you have given. This has inspired me a lot

  2. Virendra Says:

    This was really a helpful reading for me. In fact, I have started thinking over it the day I read it. It cleared lot many things and doubts from my mind. Thanks a lot for this share Colleen.
    Here I would also like to share that I keep practicing such experiments with people around me, my juniors and seniors as well. What I came to know is that for following questions, some of them still are not sure with the Perfect Answers. They need some guidance prior to these questions being asked. The guidance that would help them get Perfect Answers for these questions. And the rest would be a free flow.

    What are my strengths? – They think they have too many…
    What are my motivations? – They are confused, as they get motivated with anything or anyone good enough…
    What type of legacy do I want to leave? – They never gave a thought to this…

    There could be some other cases as well. Different people, different cultures, different habitats, different thoughts, different natures…
    Well, just thought if you could help elaborate this topic of yours. This helped me, keeps helping rather. May be a bit more elaboration could practically help a more mass.

    Thanks a lot for this share.

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