Acing Your Interview – 3 Big Questions Answered

As we all know, before receiving any internship or job offer, an interview will be required. For many of us the interview can be the most intimidating part of the application process.

Only July 24th at AOL Headquarters, NY Creative Interns hosted “Interview to the Top,” a panel moderated by Founder and President, Emily Miethner.

The Panelists included:

Neisha Tweed– Senior Copywriter at Publicis Modem
Chris Lesser– Senior Human Resources Manager at AOL
Susan Karlin– President at Suka Creative
Matt Mullin– Digital Content in the Barnes and Nobel nook division

What follows is part two of a three-part series that will delve into the important questions answered at this event.

1. What do you want to hear when you ask, “tell me about yourself.”

Chris: Different people like to hear different things. When asked this question, it can be good to first frame up what you plan to talk about in a question. For example, “I’d love to tell you about myself. Do you mind if I start with college and then discuss my  interships and work experience?” Most people will probably say this is fine, but if they wanted to hear about your childhood or personal interests they’d now have the opportunity to let you know. Don’t be nervous about this question, often times people ask this just to see how well you can converse.

Neisha: A golden rule when talking about yourself is try to incorporate three personal points and three professional points. Take these six points and intertwine them together in a relevant and fluid way. These points can be used as conversation starters for later in the interview.

Matt: When talking in an interview, smile. Everyone knows that interviews can be stressful, especially your first few. But remember, a key reason you are interviewed is because the company is trying to see if they would like to work with you for 40+ hours per week. While in the interview make it seem like you enjoy being there.


2. The trickiest topic: When is negotiating appropriate? 

Susan: If you feel the need to negotiate then you should try – but be delicate. When it comes to salary, Susan often asks “what are you currently making?”  Often times if a new employee is asking for something higher than she expected she’ll ask if they can meet in the middle, or perhaps they will start at the lower rate, and in 6 months they’ll reconvene and possibly renegotiate.

Chris: Always ask yourself: why are you negotiating? Never negotiate for sport. But if you have a good reason then negotiate. Chris has negotiated both successfully and unsuccessfully in the past. A good thing to remember: it’s not all about money, so much of your job satisfaction is its about people and nature of the work.

Matt: As you advance you begin to realize that a job is not just a salary, it’s a total compesation package. Many other things can be negotiated as well; such as sick time, paid time off, health benefits, bonuses, commission, ability to work from home, etc. there are lots of different factors and many can be negotiated if needed.

Neisha: you need to research for the position’s expected salary. You can use resources such as or to determine what salary is reasonable for your position. If a company gives your an offer that’s lower than expected, take some time to think about it. This gives you time to justify why you would ask for more. Also, some factors such as paid cell phone bills or extra vacation days can sometimes be negotiated depending on the job description. Also, always take time to think about it. Justify why you ask for more. But remember, money is not everything. And when it’s your first job it’s important to just get in there.

Follow Up

3. After an interview should I send a thank you note? If I haven’t heard back in a week can I follow up?

Chris: You have every right to follow up after an interview. A good hiring manager should let you know at the end of the interview what time you should expect to hear back from the company and offer their contact information incase you have a question. But if this doesn’t happen you can also ask on your way out, When do you think I’ll hear back?  Is it ok if I contact you in a week?

Always send a thank you note. Hand written is nice, but an email gets their quickly. You should send your thank you email within one day of the interview.

Susan: Sending a follow up email to touch base in a week is fine. You need to send a thank you. Make your thank you note is personal and includes a specific take away you had from the conversation.

Matt: Matt has never hired someone who didn’t send a thank you note. It’s never a big deal to send a follow up email after a few days of no word- the worst thing that could happen is the employee ignores your email.

image courtesy of Thinkstock 


Do you have any interview tips that have helped you in the past? If so, share them with us in the comments below and stay tuned for part three of this interview series. You can read part one here.

About the Author

I love education & technology. Current member of the Community Team at bitly. @juliawilson89

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