How to be Likeable in a Job Interview

Oftentimes, the decision between one candidate and another comes down to one thing: likeability. It can be the quality that sets you apart from those with similar skill sets and experience levels.

Follow their Lead

Take hints from the interviewer when it comes to the ~vibe~ of the interview. If they seem to be acting formally during the interview, stay more serious. If they are joking around, take their lead and joke back! In this instance, you are the one coming into their environment, so you should match their energy. Do not get me wrong—you do not need to change your personality. We just want to avoid coming off too serious or goofy for the job.

Accept Offers

People like to help people. This may sound silly, but if you are offered a drink or something to make you more comfortable during the interview process, take it. It makes them feel like they have done you a favor and makes a tiny little connection. It seems small and insignificant, but it helps to humanize you and (somehow) makes you more likeable.

Be Honest

Do not try to fudge things when you do not know the answer. There is nothing less attractive to a company than candidates trying to BS their way through an interview. Remember: our goal is to be likeable. If you do not know the answer to a question or do not understand the question, say so! Alongside that, you can offer what you think your best answer may be. Offering what you DO know shows you have skills and knowledge to show off, even if you do not have a solution to their exact question. In addition to this, it signals to the interviewer that you are willing to admit when you do not know the answer, and you are willing to ask for help when needed.

We know most articles would tell you to “just be yourself” or something like that, but we refuse to say that—too cliché. Plus, you already probably knew that. Go into that interview with confidence—you’ve got this!


Once you get the job, check out this article about making your first few days count.

Putting Candidates at Ease Before an Interview

If you want to see your candidate’s true character and personality shine, make them feel comfortable around you! This will give you a taste of how they will function within the company once they settle in and get comfortable.

Ask Ice-Breaker Questions

Ask the candidate a few questions to get them talking without feeling the pressure of having the perfect answer. You could ask them how their drive was or how their day has been. Ask them anything that has almost nothing to do with the job they are interviewing for. Creating no-pressure conversation allows them to settle in and get comfortable.

Be Vulnerable

When the interviewee inevitably asks you, “How are you?” respond honestly. If it has been a busy day, say so! Had a tough commute, but a great day? Tell them! Try to be open and comfortable with them to remind them that you are just a person too! Being real instead of the classic stiff, “good!” will put the candidate at ease.

Offer a (non-alcoholic) Drink

Within reason, try to provide things that the candidate may need during the interview. When you get the candidate situated in the room you are interviewing, offer them water or coffee. This welcomes them in and puts them at ease. If they do not bring a pen or paper with them, it gives them something to hold. If possible, provide tissues in the interview room so the candidate can use them if needed. (There is nothing worse than a “sniffley” nose during an interview.)

Comfort Bonus Tip: Show them around the office when they first arrive and LET THEM KNOW WHERE THE BATHROOM IS! If they must go during the interview, they can excuse themselves without having to shamefully follow you to the bathroom.

Selling Yourself without Sounding Prideful

Are you scared of sounding pridefully unaware in an interview? There are a few ways to communicate how great a worker you are while still sounding humble.


Instead of saying something like, “I am great at recruiting,” give quantities. Quantities = credibility. Saying something like, “At my previous job, I helped place over {number} of candidates throughout the year.” By giving statistics of your work, you are simply stating facts, not making judgments about the quality of work you do. Providing numbers can signal to the interviewer that you are talented at your job, without them having to rely on a subjective judgment.


Give credit to those you worked with if people helped you with certain achievements. If you worked on a team to reach a goal, mention them. If you talk about the skills you have acquired or grown, note those who helped you grow or learn. This shows humility and awareness of the importance of working with and learning from others.


If previous employers have said some encouraging words about your work that stuck with you, mention them to your interviewer. Once again, this gives your words more credibility without the interviewer blindly trusting your judgment about yourself. You could say something like, “My previous boss encouraged me to sell more because he thought I had a good rapport with clients, so I pushed myself and doubled my sales in 3 months.” Slip in a few bits of praise from previous employers if you can, even if it may not come very naturally.

Companies love employees who do great work while knowing where they need help. Show them your strengths while also practicing self-awareness!

Setting Yourself Apart from Other Candidates

When interviewing, it never hurts to stick out from others who are up for the job. There is no need to bring company-themed cupcakes to the interview. Simply follow the guidelines below–a few genuine ways to set yourself apart from your contenders.

Follow up

If you walked away from the interview wanting the job, follow up with your interviewer. Thank them for their time while letting them know that you are interested in the position. This does not mean that you can’t play your cards close to the vest for the sake of negotiating. You do not have to say, “I AM READY TO TAKE THIS POSITION AT ANY COST!” Just let them know that you are interested and would like to talk further.

Be real

Don’t be stiff! Try to seem like a real person; after all, you (most likely) are one. It is okay not to have every perfect answer during an interview. Most companies want to employ people, not robots. Find ways to connect with your interviewer. If they ask you any questions about your personal life, try to use that as a segue to learn more about them!


Interviewer: What do you do in your free time?

You: I really like to {insert fun activity here}. Have you ever done {fun activity}?

This allows the interviewer to open up and tell you more about them, giving you the chance to make a personal connection with them outside of the run-of-the-mill interview question/answer time.

Ask good questions

Be sure to ask questions whose answers you actually want to know! Of course, you can ask the basic questions (i.e., What is your favorite part about the job?), but also make sure you get answers to the questions that will impact your decision about the job. You could ask what they think of the area that the building is in. Ask what makes people stick around at the company. Returning to the last point, do not be afraid to ask them questions about themselves (without derailing the interview too much). Just like they are trying to get to know you as a candidate and person, you need to get to know them as a potential coworker and person! ALWAYS ask questions. It signals that you are interested and invested in the position you have applied for.

When you are vying for a sought-after position, it always helps to stand out for what you can bring to the table (NOT for bad things)! Go into your interview with confidence and self-assurance. You’ve got this!

The Questions You Should Ask At The End Of An Interview

Asking good questions at the end of an interview not only shows that you were engaged and interested throughout your meeting but can also help you gather information to make your final decision when it comes to accepting an offer. In addition to the questions below, make sure to jot down questions that come to mind during the interview. That way, you can circle back to them at the end. Keep reading for three types of questions to ask your interviewer at the end of the interview:

Questions about the role

Ask more detailed questions about the position:

  • What would my day-to-day look like?
  • What would you expect from me during the first few days of work?
  • Who would I be working alongside?

Ask questions of benefits and compensation:

  • What is the average pay for this position?
  • What are the benefits like for the role?

Questions about company culture

Ask about positives:

  • What do people like most about working here?
  • What are coworker relationships like?

Don’t shy away from carefully worded questions about negatives:

  • What are some of the challenging parts of this role?
  • What do people struggle with most at this company?

Questions about their company experience

  • What do you like about working for this company?
  • How have you been challenged at this company?
  • How did you achieve the role you hold today?

. . .just to name a few! Good questions can provide you with resourceful information about your potential employer while helping you stand out amongst other candidates. Employers like to see candidates that read as real people with human questions, not just fluffy reputation-bolstering questions. Make sure you get answers to all the important questions floating around your head before the interview is over.

Wondering what comes next? Brush up on writing a post-interview thank-you note here!

Post-Interview Question: What Does Success Look Like In This Position?

Why you should ask it

If you’re looking to impress your interviewers and generate insight on how your success will be measured, ask the following question in your next interview: “What does success look like in this position?” This question will let you learn what is expected of you before you even receive an offer. This could either excite you or draw some red flags. Either way, it will give you valuable information on how your success will be measured if you accept it.

When to ask it

This is a question you should typically save for the end of the interview. However, if the interviewer is beginning to discuss expectations or how your performance will be evaluated, you can then bring it up. Some interviewers, especially if they are the hiring manager, may bring up expectations at some point during the interview. If they do, that’s great! But don’t be afraid to ask for more details if it was only touched on slightly.

For example, you can ask, “You briefly touched on expectations for this position a few minutes ago. Can you please go into a little more detail on what success looks like in this position, and explain how it will be measured?” This follow-up question allows you to receive further clarification and also shows off your listening skills.

Possible outcomes

Are the expectations of you in this position clear? Are they realistic and achievable? Or, are they too easy, and you may not be challenged enough? These are all things you can answer when you ask, “what does success look like in this position?” You want to ensure the expectations and measures of success bode well with you. You may find that the expectations are challenging, yet doable and clear enough that you can personally track your success. However, you may also find that this position isn’t the right fit for you because it won’t push you to give your best effort.

Looking for more interview questions you can ask?

If you are looking for more interview questions that you can ask at the end of your interview, head to our candidate resources to explore!

How To Address Being Fired During An Interview

Job interviews are stressful under any circumstance. Add in having to address why you were fired from another position, and the anxiety can be almost crippling. However, it is NOT a deal-breaker! It is possible to gracefully cover a previous firing while selling yourself during an interview. Here’s exactly how to address the fact that you were fired during your next job interview.

Be Honest

First and foremost, be honest. Don’t try to hide the fact that you were let go or lie about the reasoning behind it. A reference check or industry connections could easily expose the truth and prevent you from receiving an offer. And unfortunately, in this situation, it won’t be the firing itself that keeps you from your next position but the deceit surrounding it. So, when the interviewer asks why you left your job, address it head-on.

Keep It Brief

While explaining past firings, keep it brief. You can tackle this directly without divulging too many details. Don’t let the conversation linger on past mistakes. Additionally, leave emotions out of it. There is a fine line between explaining your employment situation and airing grievances about your past company, manager, or coworkers. Instead, be straightforward in your answer and focus on moving the narrative towards the future.

Demonstrate Growth

After your brief, honest explanation about your situation, it’s important to demonstrate to your interviewer that it won’t happen again. Hopefully, you learned an important lesson that you’re ready to carry into a new job. Share that lesson and use it as an opportunity to articulate why this job is a great fit. In the end, it should transition nicely to you selling yourself for the position.

Remember, past firings are not a deal-breaker for employers. They are not concerned about whether you are suitable for someone else’s job; they want to know why you are ideal for their job. Ultimately, they want to see that you are honest, direct, and able to take responsibility for your actions.

Are you looking for more interview advice? Head to our candidate resources! We have endless amounts of insights on interview questions, what to wear, and how to follow up. Good luck!

Outdated Interview “Rules” That No Longer Apply

For as long as interviews have been around, there have been a set of “Interview Rules.” Some were explicit, and some unwritten, but all were standard practice for years. However, the hiring process has recently undergone a significant transformation. Both hiring managers and candidates are now challenging once standard practices. Here are three examples of outdated interview rules that no longer apply.

You always need to dress “business formal”

Business formal used to be the standard for interviews. It was expected that you showed up in a formal suit and tie or plain skirt and blazer. This still may be the case for more traditional business industries such as banking or investments. However, it is no longer the rule for all interviews. We encourage you to dress “one step up” from the company’s dress code. Check out our guide to dressing business casual for an interview here.

You must kick off the interview with a firm handshake

A global pandemic stopped this outdated interview rule in its tracks. Not only is it a quick way to spread germs, but it also makes people uncomfortable. Many hiring managers are coming around to the idea of allowing a candidate to dictate which greeting they are comfortable with. It is now perfectly acceptable to give a wave or a friendly nod and smile as you meet your interviewer.

You cannot ask about salary or PTO during an interview

Until recently, it was completely taboo to discuss salary or PTO during an interview. However, the tables have recently shifted. It is now understood that people have a right to know the salary range and if it will be a good fit with your goals. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic changed how employers and employees alike think about PTO. If it is important to you to know how a prospective employer handles sick time, potential exposures, and benefits, don’t be afraid to address it.

These interview rules and more are being challenged every day. Just remember that when you’re interviewing, it is a two-way street. You may want the job, but employers are looking for someone who will be a good fit and voice their opinions and questions! So, don’t be afraid to ask questions, stick to what you’re comfortable with, and dress in a way that represents you and the company.

3 Ways To Assess A Company’s Culture During Your Job Search

Now more than ever, it’s essential to understand a company’s culture before joining their team. According to a report by SHRM, in the last year, one in five Americans left a job due to poor company culture. Additionally, consumers are holding brands accountable. In a recent COVID-19 brand trust report, 90% of people believe brands must do everything they can to protect their employees’ and suppliers’ well-being and financial security. So, it won’t cut it anymore to simply provide a competitive salary. But how can you determine the company’s culture during your job search? Start with these three ways.

Do Your Research

Now, with the presence of social media, it’s easier than ever to get a picture of a company’s culture. Check out their LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Don’t forget to explore employee profiles too! Additionally, browse company reviews on Glassdoor or Google to get an idea of what past and current employees think. (Just remember to take reviews with a grain of salt!) And, if any red flags come up, be sure to address them during your interview.


If you go in person for an interview, be sure to observe everything around you. Do the other employees seem friendly and happy to be at work? What does the office look like? You want to keep an eye out for how people are dressed, office cleanliness, and updated equipment. As you observe, try to picture yourself as an employee. Does it seem like a place you could see yourself working?

Ask The Right Questions

When the interviewer turns it back around to you, have a couple of great questions at the ready. You want to go beyond the obvious, “what’s the company culture here?” in order to paint a complete picture of the team and company culture. Here are a few of our favorites (and what to listen for in an answer):

Tell Me About A Recent Team Win.

When the interviewer answers this question, you want to hear them celebrate wins, both big and small. Additionally, a hiring manager should give recognition to the team members involved.

How Does The Department Handle Conflict?

Conflict is bound to come up in team environments. However, it’s all about how the leadership handles it. Ideally, they will have a process in place to address inner-team conflict. The answer you don’t want to hear is, “we don’t have conflict.” Chances are, they are avoiding it, or team members don’t feel comfortable sharing any conflicts with their manager!

Are There Opportunities For Development?

Development opportunities are a great indicator of a supportive and encouraging work culture. If companies give their employees the chance to grow their skills and move up in the company, they will invest in your success.

In the end, there’s actually quite a bit you can learn from about a company’s culture from the outside. You just have to know what to look for! Another great way to understand company culture is to partner with a recruiting firm like Johnson Service Group. We have exclusive relationships with hiring managers and get all of the insider information that you need. Ready to get started? Explore our jobs or contact a recruiter today!

Interview Questions For Every Stage Of The Interview Process

If you’ve spent any time on our blog at all, you know you need to ask questions during your interviews. However, it can be challenging to determine which questions to ask at which stage. Modern interviews feature anywhere from one to eight different interviews for one job. And the questions you ask during the initial phone screen should be different from the questions you ask at a final interview. Today, we’re breaking down the differences and laying out interview questions for every stage of the process.

Initial Phone Screen Interview Questions

The initial phone screen might not even be with the actual hiring manager, so it’s not the time to get into the nitty-gritty details. However, it is an excellent opportunity to get any further clarification on the position, company, or work environment. Here are a few examples of great interview questions to ask during your initial phone screen.

  • Can you provide some more information about this aspect of the job?
  • Is this position in office, remote, or hybrid?
  • Would you like a list of references?
  • What is the next step in the interview process?
  • When can I expect to hear about the next step?
  • Is there anything else I can share about my experience or qualifications?

Face-to-Face Interview Questions

When you have a face-to-face interview, things are getting a bit more serious. You’re most likely meeting with the hiring manager or maybe even additional team members at this stage. Whether it’s in-person or over video chat, it’s the perfect opportunity to delve deeper into the job’s duties and the team’s culture. Here are a couple of great questions to ask during a face-to-face interview.

  • How can I make an immediate impact in this position?
  • Who will I be working with most closely?
  • Are there opportunities for professional development?
  • What is the company or team’s management style?
  • What is most challenging about this job?
  • What is your favorite part about working here?

Final Interview Questions

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! You are in strong consideration for the role, so this is the perfect time to really wow the interviewer with some great questions. At this point, you can really get into the details of what it would look like for you to be in this role and how you personally would fit in with the team. Here are a few bold questions you can ask during a final interview to leave a lasting impression.

  • What are the performance metrics for this role?
  • How will expectations and feedback be communicated for this position?
  • How do I compare to other candidates interviewing for this job?
  • What would you say are the most important skills for a successful person in this position to have?
  • How does this position contribute to the larger goals of the organization?
  • How would you describe your department’s culture?
  • If I were to be hired for this position, when would you like me to start?

These are just a handful of questions you can ask at each stage of the interview process. Keep in mind that it’s best to also incorporate questions that arise during your interviews, and don’t be afraid to circle back to something you need more information on. And if you’re interested in more interview advice, check out our interview prep and advice resources to increase your interview knowledge and boost your confidence.