Four Letters. Infinite Potential.
How to Prepare for (and Ace!) an Interview

How to Prepare for (and Ace!) an Interview

Tips for recent grads (Part 1)

by Tim Strandquist, VP-Projects & Executive Search

Interviewing is fascinating to me. No two interviews are ever the same, and as an executive search director with JMFA, I get to meet a diverse group of individuals with their own stories and experiences to share. Yet, after years of meeting with job candidates, I can safely say that there are certain things that impress me and give me confidence in recommending them to my clients. Here, a 10-step path for every recent graduate looking to ace an interview.


1.  Research

We have tools in this modern age that college graduates and others are utilizing for research. Would you go on a date with someone without researching their social media presence? You’d want to at least find some common ground or topics of conversation. The same applies to an interview. What about the company do you like and agree with? Know that going in so you can speak to them about it. It shows that you have done your homework while also aligning with their mission and values.

2.  Arrival

Do not show up more than 20 minutes early (and do not show up at all if you are late). If you are running late due to an emergency, always call to alert the interviewer. Arriving 10 to 15 minutes early allows you time to get settled and get your bearings, but arriving any earlier can throw off the interviewer’s schedule. From personal experience, when I know I have someone waiting in the lobby, I feel obligated to stop what I’m doing and meet with them—and that’s not the first impression you want to make.

3.  Present Yourself

Walk in like this is your job to get. Wear a suit and act professional at all times. You never know who you need to impress, so impress everyone. When I was interviewing for my first job out of college, I met with a large company on a huge campus. I learned later that they asked the person at the front desk how I treated her and what her opinion was of me. Also, the person who came to get me was instructed to introduce himself and then not say another word to me on the long walk and escalator ride to the meeting room. They wanted to see how I would react to that and whether or not I would continue to try and create conversation. Present yourself professionally—you never know who is watching.

4.  Phone Interviews

If it is a phone interview, stand up. Unless they are playing the piano or cello, soloists and singers always stand up to perform and project better. Take a walk before the meeting; then, make sure it is quiet in the house and you have no distractions. Dogs barking or background noise is extremely unprofessional and can make it difficult for both parties to focus.

5.  Lay the Groundwork

When you enter the meeting room, greet everyone with a handshake and a smile. Have extra copies of your resume ready, along with the information you have prepared for the meeting. How you start the meeting is extremely important. Open up your portfolio and lay out your prepared questions (more on that later) along with your resume and any notes about your background or previous successes you have jotted down. You may also want to write a few notes down during the meeting, so bring a pen and paper. However, take notes sparingly to avoid distraction. Part of this whole exercise is showing how prepared and confident you are. Let the interviewer know you are setting the stage for an excellent meeting.

And just how can you have an excellent meeting? Stay tuned for Part 2, where I detail how to make a stellar introduction, what questions to ask, how to gracefully follow up, and more.


If you’re ready to put these interviewing tips into action and ace your next interview? We’re here to help you find the perfect fit. Check out our current Job Openings today!


100% 12 months 14 years 20 years 2020 2020 vision 40 years abusive abusiveness Academy account holder account holder retention account holder strategies account holder strategies; growth strategies; account holders accountability Achieve achievements Advancements Advice Agreement agreements alerts Americans analysis analytic Analytics announcement ask the expert Assistance ATMs Attendees attorneys attracting talent auto loans Automation awareness B2B Balance Bank Bank of Pacific Banking banking services banks banks and credit unions batching Benefit best practices bills board governance board member board of directors Bob Layendecker bottom line branch equipment branch profitability brand loyalty branding Bryan Hanks budget budgets bundling business business culture business environment business practices business processes business strategies calendar candy card processing cardholders career advice Career Goal CARES Act caring case studies Case Study cash CDC CEO CEO onboarding certainty CFPB Challenges change charitable Checklist Cher Cheryl Lawson Choose Chris Karstens civil litigation claim clarity class action class-action lawsuit Classroom clients Cloud Cohron collections CommFirst Federal Credit Union commitment committed Communication communications communities community community banks Community Outreach Referral Program Competition Competitive competitors Complaint Compliance compliance examinations compliance risks compliant condition conduct Conferences confidence connection Consistency Consistent consultant Consultation consultative consulting Consumer Consumer FInancial Protection Bureau consumer protection Consumer-focused Consumers Contactless Contactless cards Contingency Contingency Pricing contingency-based contingency-based fees Contract Contract Analysis Contract Negotiation contract negotiations contract negotiator Contract Optimizer Contract Renegotiations contract review contract staffing Contracts Convenience core processor contracts Cornerstone Credit Union League coronavirus corporate culture corporate governance cost costs Courtesy Pay coverage COVID-19 CPE credits Credit Card credit card contracts credit card processing credit cards credit report Credit Union Credit Union Vendor Management credit unions crisis Crissandra Fry CSS culture customer customer experience customer service customers CUVM cyber security Damian Data Data Analytics database Deal debit debit card contracts debit cards Debt deceptive Decisions Demand Letters Department of Labor Deposit deposits Development Dick Miller digital digital wallet directors Disclosed disclosure disclosures discounts Discussion Dodd-Frank Act dollars donation Donna Sumrall Dynamic earnings Economic economic recovery economy Education efficiency studies election Email Emergencies Emergency employed employee employee retention employees EMV migration enchancing productivity enforce enforcement Engagement environment Errors evaluation Evolve examiners executive search Expectations Expense expense management expense reduction expenses Experience Experiences Expert expert negotiations expertise Experts expire Facilitators families family FastTrack FDIC Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Board fee Feedback fees Field Consultant Financial Financial Institution financial institutions financial integrity financial security financial services financial stability Financial Worry FinTech fit Fixed limits Fixed-limit Floyd's Forum Forrester Franklin First Federal Credit Union Free Analysis fright full disclosure Fully Fully Disclosed fully disclosed overdraft program fund funds future Gen Z Generating Income generating leads generation Generation Z Gift Gil Johnson global Goals governance government government agencies Greenwood Credit Union Grow growth guidance Gym Halloween Hammond Happiness health Heartland Tri-State Bank hiring HKW Holiday Holidays Houston Area Food Bank Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo HR HR policies Hubur human capital human resources impact Implementation implementing important Improved improved efficiencies improved results improvements Inc. incentives income income enhancement Industry industry partners Innovate Innovative in-person Institution interest rates interests internet banking services interview strategies interview tips IT contracts Jackson Jai Jai Darden James Jamone Moore Jan Southern Jennifer Peoples Jennifer Simmons Jessica Pickett Jim Griffis Jimmy Nguyen JMFA JMFA Academy JMFA clients JMFA News JMFA Next Generation Overdraft Privilege JMFA team Joe Marsh John Cohron John M. Floyd John M. Floyd & Associates judicial justification Kelli Silvernale NCUA Kelly Flynn Kennedy knowledge law lawsuits Lawyer leaders leadership Learn Learning Legal legal risk legislative lending program Lesson leverage Limit Limits Literacy litigation litigators lives loans local Long Term Long-Term lost revenue Maggie Thompson Maintenance manage Managed management management experience Mark Roe marketing marketplace Mary Soergel MasterCard matrices Matrix Matrix-based measurable measurable results meeting Member Members mergers Midwest Region Millennial Millennials mindset minimalism minimalist Mississippi Missouri mobile Mobile Banking mobile phone app Model monetary Money monitoring Morrison & Foerster Partner mortgages Most Valuable Provider NAFCU NCUA Needs negative balance Negative Settlement Negotiate Negotiating negotiating contracts negotiator Net Operating Analysis New Decade new revenue New Year New Year's Next Generation JMFA Overdraft Privilege NOA Non-Compliant non-disclosed non-interest Non-Interest Income North Carolina NSF NSF fees Obrea Poindexter OCC Officer Oliver Ireland onboarding Online operational operations Opportunities Opportunity Opt-In organization Organizational Health Outcomes outsourcing Overdraft overdraft compliance overdraft coverage overdraft fees overdraft practices Overdraft Privilege overdraft privilege program overdraft program Overdraft programs overdraft protection overdraft protection programs Overdraft Protection Service overdraft service overdraft services overdraft strategy overdrafts overdrawn Overspending pandemic Part 2 Partner partnership Paul McFarland paycheck emergency payday loans payment cards Payments Penalties Pennsylvania performance personnel physical distancing plan planning plug and play Plus4 Credit Union podcast Podcasts policies policies and procedures Policy POS POS transaction Positive Swipe post-pandemic practice practices Press Release Privilege Manager CRM proactive problem-solving procedure Procedures process process improvement Processing product profitability Productivity Products Professional Profitability Improvement Program Program Management programs prohibited project staffing Promotions Proposals Provider providers PwC Quality quantity Reactive reality Reassess recovery Recruitment Services recruitment strategies reduce expenses refer referral refunds Reg E regional director regulation Regulation E regulations regulators regulatory regulatory consent orders relationship Relationships reliability remote Renegotiate Renewal Reporting Reputation resolutions Resources Results Retail retail operations Retaining Employees Retention Retirement revenue revenue enhancement review Richard Miller risk risks ROI Ron Jennings Roy Roy Seifert Rules Ryan Armstrong safety Sales Salesforce Satisfaction savings scary Scrutiny secrets Security senate Senior Relationship Manager service service agreements service contracts service delivery Services Sessions settlement shareholders Sheila Bridges Shopping social distancing Social Events social media socially distanced Software Solution South Carolina specialization speed Spending staff staff development staff spotlight staff training staffing staffing gaps staffing studies staffing study stakeholders standard Statistics stimulus payments Strategic Planning strategic vision Strategies Strategy streamline Stressful study succeed Success success factors successful Succession plan succession planning Support survey Susan Prell system talent team team members technology technology costs technology upgrades technology utilization temporary staff term terms Text Third-Party Expert third-party providers third-party vendor contracts third-party vendors threat three Tim Strandquist Time Tools Tools and Resources Tracking Trainer training transaction transactions Transparency Transparent Travel Treats trend trends Trey Martin Trust turnkey UDAAP uncertain times uncertainty underperforming undisclosed unemployment unfair updates upfront Upgrades Value Variable Variable Limits Vendor vendor agreements vendor contract negotiations vendor contracts vendor management services vendor performance vendors video violation Virginia VISA volunteer waives Walker Washington Washington D.C. Washington Savings Bank Webinars weeks well-rounded Westmoreland Community FCU Whitney & Company Wish list women work work ethic Workshops YouTube