Newbie Interview Tips From My Virgin Interview

My first-ever interview is now posted over at Hulbert Lee’s blog, From Bottom Up . I hope you’ll pop over to take a listen and say “hi” in the comment section.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some tips to share from my virgin interview experience.

Getting interviewed for the first time is like doing anything else in blogging for the first time . . . fun, scary, exciting, nerve-wracking . . . pretty much your typical roller coast ride.

Luckily, a little preparation goes a long ways towards smoothing out the bumps.

Here are a few things that will help:

Before the Interview

  • Know the technology. I hadn’t used Skype until this week (stop laughing!), so I posted a message on the A-List Blogger Club forum that I’d like to practice a Skype call. My blogging friends came to my rescue, and we all had a great time together while I got comfortable with Skype. If your interview requires you to step into unfamiliar technology territory, admit that you’re a newbie and get the help you need to gain confidence.
  • Practice. I didn’t practice for my interview, but if you’re feeling nervous, consider listening to prior interviews by your interviewer to get a feel for questions and format. Then, enlist a friend or family member to conduct a practice interview to help you prepare.
  • Stay busy. My interview was scheduled for noon, and I probably would have gotten twitchy if my morning hadn’t gone straight to heck from the first minute I stepped out of bed. Between technology glitches and household emergencies, my mind had no time to careen towards scenarios of impending interview doom. Hopefully, your interview day will be less chaotic than mine, but do plan to keep busy with work or fun until your interview time arrives.
  • Go Into ‘Do Not Disturb’ Mode. I let my husband know I’d be in an interview so he wouldn’t fire up the chainsaw outside the window while I was talking. Go on the offensive to create a quiet environment for your interview by alerting family members, arranging for childcare, putting a ‘do not disturb’ sign on your front door, and turning off phone ringers.
  • Get comfortable. Get a glass of water or another beverage to sip on in case your throat gets dry, and take a bathroom break whether you think you need one or not. Also make sure you’re wearing something that feels especially comfy.
  • Pay attention during the prep. Most interviewers will email or call with information on how the interview will be conducted. Your mind may be jangling with nerves, but do force yourself to focus. Knowing what to expect will help you feel more at ease during the actual interview process.

During the Interview

  • Focus on the familiar. Looking at a favorite picture, a candle, or a familiar scene during the interview process is relaxing. I turned my chair towards a window that overlooks the garden so I could look at flowers and fruit trees as I talked.
  • Relax. If you’re nervous during the interview, intentionally slow your breathing, relax your shoulders and jaw, and stretch your fingers. All of these things help release tension in your body so you can stay present and focused.
  • Be real. When the interview begins, say hello and talk to the interviewer just as you would if you were having lunch together. Don’t worry about impressing anyone or what people will think. The more you can bring your authentic self to the process, the more folks will relate to you.

After the interview

  • Maximize the post-interview session. When the interview concludes, be sure to thank your interviewer. Use this time to ask when the interview will appear and offer to help promote the interview if you’re able. Ask any other questions that may be on your mind, and if it feels appropriate, express your interest in working with the interviewer again.
  • Promote. When your interview is available, let your readers know about it on your blog, in your newsletter, and on your favorite social media sites. You may also want to put up a link to the interview on your sidebar so that future visitors will have an easy way to get a more personal glimpse of you.
  • Continue the conversation. If your interview is posted on a blog, drop in to interact with readers and listeners who comment. An interview on a blog is essentially the same as a guest post. It’s your introduction to folks who may be seeing you for the first time, so make the most of it.

My first interview was a positive experience all around, and Hulbert Lee did a great job of making things easy and enjoyable for me. Please do come over and visit us at From Bottom Up.

Your turn: Do you get nervous at the thought of being interviewed? If you’ve been interviewed, what was it like for you?

Related Post: A Newbie’s Guide to Guest Posting

47 Responses to Newbie Interview Tips From My Virgin Interview

  1. Dev | Technshare July 1, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

    Hey Jean,

    That's awesome to hear. Congratulations on your first interview. You've done awesome work Jean.

    Thanks for sharing those awesome tips. Really Brilliant tips.
    I like the “The more you can bring your authentic self to the process, the more folks will relate to you.”. Great advice jean.


  2. rob white July 1, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    Well done, Jean. Your authenticity has shone through. I highly recommend that everyone take the time to listen.

  3. virginbloggernotes July 1, 2010 at 6:14 pm #

    Thanks so much, Rob. It was really a fun experience overall for me.

  4. virginbloggernotes July 1, 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks, Dev. Whether we're writing or talking life is a whole lot easier if we just be who we are. We might not be the most impressive person in the world, but who cares about that?

  5. Dia July 1, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    Thanks for these tips Jean. I will go and listen to the interview now :)

  6. Zengirl @ heart and mind July 1, 2010 at 11:53 pm #


    Congratulations on your first interview! I bet there will be more to come. These tips are great for successful bloggers! I am going to check out now at Hulbert's site.

  7. annahaller July 2, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Hi Jean,

    I was the one interviewing this week with two experts in the outsourcing field and they were my first interviews ever so talk about being nervous…I got through them though. One was video and the other was audio and believe it or not I enjoyed the video one more, funny huh?

    Congratulations on your interview and you really give some good tips here which I had utilized for my interview as well. I will definitely check it out and leave a comment!


  8. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 2:19 am #

    Good job for doing those interviews! Now you're an expert. I've never interviewed anyone other than for print publications, so I think you're brave :)

  9. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 2:22 am #

    Thank you. It's funny when you write blogs how you don't think about being interviewed, or at least I didn't. When the opportunity came up I was surprised and a bit scared, but I'm glad I didn't chicken out :)

  10. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 2:24 am #

    You're welcome, Dia. Thanks for stopping by.

  11. Hulbert July 2, 2010 at 2:29 am #

    Haha, this line was so funny, “…I let my husband know I'd be in an interview so he wouldn't fire up the chainsaw outside the window while I was talking.” Hey, at last you didn't get the lawn mower. :(

    Jeez, I didn't know that so much stuff was going through your mind Jean. I get nervous around the thought of being interviewed, especially for a job. It's usually a nerve-racking experience for me, but this is for blogging for crying out loud! I'm not a professional interviewer or anything like that… and I hope people don't get nervous by my questions. :)

    Also, I remember in the interview you said something along the lines of how you usually write about your experiences to help people out with blogging. I see this post as a great example of what you meant by that! Thank you for writing such at great in-depth outline. I've never had an interviewee put so much effort into writing about our interview experience so thank you!

  12. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    Yeah, chainsaws and interviews don't go too well together :) I think just the term 'interview' makes people feel twitchy. And now I'd better get over to your blog and continue the conversation by checking on comments :)

  13. Leah McClellan July 2, 2010 at 4:11 am #

    These are great tips, Jean. You sound like a pro instead of a beginner! I haven't ever been interviewed, but I have interviewed others, more times than I can count. Corporate types, people I need info from for articles, a doctor who wrote a book on male menopause (laughing here in retrospect about some of my questions!), a veterinarian for tips on tick control lol Even with the vet, I was nervous. Lots of your tips apply to being the interviewer as well as the interviewee–once the dogs started barking and it wasn't during the vet interview! lol–so I'm definitely going to refer back to this post next time any sort of interview is going on!

  14. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 5:02 am #

    Thanks,Leah. I think what happens is that my mind conjures up every possible thing that can go wrong, so that gives me a lot to write about :) You could write a great humor article about your interview experiences!

  15. Kaizenvision July 2, 2010 at 6:40 am #

    I just listened to your interview, it was GREAT! Your a natural speaker.

    Thank you for these tips. Practicing with the technology is very important (especially for someone whose not tech savvy like me).

  16. matthewneedham July 2, 2010 at 11:56 am #

    Some really great tips here Jean. As I sit at my desk I can hear someone with a very noisy mower going. So, having a quiet place to work and do the interview definitely works.

  17. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 11:59 am #

    Thanks so much, Aileen. The bonus of this interview is that it finally motivated me to get on board with Skype, get a decent headset, and practice. Now I love it!

  18. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 12:00 pm #

    Thanks, Matt. Lawn mowers and babies both make life interesting when an interview is going on :)

  19. Blog Angel a.k.a. Joella July 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    OMG! This is an awesome article, really stellar.

    Jean, you should tweak this a bit and make it into a pdf and offer it as guide to interviewing for bloggers. This is one of those posts that takes useful to the highest level. Great job.

  20. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 1:08 pm #

    Thanks, Joella. Isn't it funny how the most useful posts usually come right straight out of paying attention to our own experiences and relating what we learned to readers?

    Thanks for banner on your site! Looks great, and I think you've got a great method there of encouraging comments!

  21. Angela Artemis July 2, 2010 at 1:47 pm #

    Great tips as usual Jean! Your mind works with the precision of a finely tuned machine – I'm always so amazed at how helpful and practical your tips are. What a great idea to continue the conversation and do an after interview post on your interview – wish I'd known to do that after Hulbert interviewed me!

    Thank you, thank you.

    By the way – I'm psyched about our coffee/skype date one AM.

  22. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Hi Ange. Since the only time my mind has been compared to a machine has been when I've been told I've 'slipped a cog,' or 'have a screw loose' I'm especially appreciative of your comment :)

    I'm really trying to stay tapped into what I'm learning/doing/feeling so I can pass it along. It's really easy to overlook the obvious though . . . the 'block' I might feel when I'm writing a post, learning Skype the other day, trying to get things wrapped up for a little vacation . . . all of those things are possible post ideas but only if I pay attention!

  23. Eric July 2, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    Great tips here. I've yet to be interview but look forward to anyone offering me one, *wink* *wink* hehe.

    Anyway, I'm going over to check it out now. Thanks for the heads up.

    P.S. As much Dr. Pepper as I drink a day I doubt I'll have a dry throat in case I do get interviewed although I do have the issue of running out before it's over lol.

  24. Katie Tallo July 2, 2010 at 5:11 pm #

    Seems you followed your own advice. Your interview was great. You sounded relaxed and real, but that's just you. Terrific guide for interview prep. Just make sure the camera's off if you are wearing very, very comfy clothes.

  25. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 5:28 pm #

    Well, if I ever start interviewing folks, Eric, I'll be ringing you up on Skype :)

  26. virginbloggernotes July 2, 2010 at 5:35 pm #

    Good point on the clothes, Katie :) With the way I go back and forth between the garden and work some days, I can look on the frightful side anyway.

    One day I'd been in the house about three hours, finally passed a mirror, and saw bit of raspberry branch and a leaf poking out of my hair that had been there all that time. Now that would have made for a great interview starter :)

  27. Kim July 3, 2010 at 12:15 am #

    Hi Jean,

    You didn't sound nervous at all! I confess I just signed up for skype in April and I felt every twist and turn with Hulbert, as you did : )) I couldn't help but judge myself because I'm usually the one eliciting answers from clients, not being in the hot seat. Anyway yay, we're no longer virgins 😉 Loved your tip on focusing on the familiar.


  28. virginbloggernotes July 3, 2010 at 1:35 am #

    Hi Kim. I really do think that my chaotic morning kept me from being nervous. Guess I just need to schedule a few catastrophes prior to every interview. I didn't think you sounded nervous either, so you hid it well :)

  29. k0zm0zs0ul July 3, 2010 at 1:39 am #

    I've been interviewed once, and while nerve wracking at first, I got pretty comfy pretty quick..probably in large part to the interviewee. lol He was good at 'leading' me. :) And congrats on your first!

  30. prolificliving July 3, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    You did SUPERB on your interview, Jean and what a wonderful idea to write about your experience and share thoughts. Interviewing skills are HUGE, both in and out of corporate American and really, in any position. I love being interviewed and I love giving interviews. I think I just love getting to know people in general……All your advice is right on! You did well, you really did…..:)!

  31. virginbloggernotes July 3, 2010 at 2:27 am #

    I would think you would give any interviewer a run for their money. Haha. If I ever start doing interviews I'll be after you :) Seriously, with all the guest posting you've done and the freelancing work, etc., there's a ton of great info to be extracted from your brain. Not that you don't leak some of that smart juice all over your blog, but extractions are so fun :)

  32. virginbloggernotes July 3, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    Farnoosh, you popped on here just before I scampered off to begin my long weekend. Thank you for taking the time to listen in – I really loved the experience overall. I am like you in that I take pleasure in getting to know people. It is a joy to me. Well, once in a while it's not, but we won't talk about that :) I hope you have a wonderful weekend, Farnoosh, and here's hoping I don't get consumed by either bears or mosquitoes!

  33. k0zm0zs0ul July 3, 2010 at 3:54 am #

    Ha ha.. the key is extracting it! LOL I've got shyness issues, and HATE the
    phone. But I did whoop shyness in the butt to do it once, so I might can do
    it again sometime. lol

  34. alexwhalley July 3, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    Hey Jean,
    Really awesome of Hulbert to interview you and I am actually listening to it as I write this (and they say boys can't multitask!) :) Really good to put a voice to the person I feel I know so well!
    This is a great post too, not only have you promoted your interview you have also turned it into a fantastic how to for any up and coming interviewee! Awesome.
    You go girl!

  35. virginbloggernotes July 4, 2010 at 3:56 am #

    HI Alex. Thanks for giving the interview a listen. You know me . . . if I can squeeze 55 uses out of the same piece of content, I'll do it. And, hopefully, I'll be able to help everyone else do that too.

  36. virginbloggernotes July 4, 2010 at 3:58 am #

    I love that you've got shyness issues because I had them too and can totally relate. I think we're the last two people on earth readers would ever think we would have a shy side :) Hope you're having a great weekend. I haven't been consumed by a bear yet, so mine's going well.

  37. k0zm0zs0ul July 4, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Lol.. so good to hear I'm not alone! :) And you're right, online I'm not
    nearly as shy. Of course, I'm not nearly as shy once I've got to know
    someone either, so I'm thinking it has something to do with I feel I 'know'
    a lot of my readers online, even when I don' it makes it easy to be
    more open. Happy 4th hun, and sheesh.. bears?! My advice is to keep the
    honey jar locked up. 😉

  38. J.D. Meier July 5, 2010 at 7:55 pm #

    I like your precision and depth. Your comfortable in your skin and that shines through.

  39. virginbloggernotes July 5, 2010 at 10:03 pm #

    Thanks, JD. It took me a lot of years to really find and experience that comfort, but that journey has been a blessing too.

  40. Sibyl Chavis July 5, 2010 at 10:10 pm #

    Jean: Your interview was great! I thought you did an AMAZING job and sounded so natural. Thanks again for sharing all your great advice.

  41. virginbloggernotes July 5, 2010 at 10:58 pm #

    Thanks for listening in and for taking the time to comment too. I really appreciate it! It sure makes it easier to be relaxed when you can be in your home environment where everything is familiar.

  42. vince July 5, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    you are just so human… I find it difficult to say more… I love reading your blogs…

  43. virginbloggernotes July 6, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Well, thank you, Vince. That means a lot to me.

  44. Thu Nguyen July 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    I really enjoyed this article because it highlights the actions which we’re unaware of. I love that you’ve documented just about every point from the beginning to end. Thanks for sharing. Tweeting this!

    Thu Nguyen recently posted..What is DDOS and How You Can Better Protect Yourself From This Dangerous Attack

    • Jean Sarauer July 29, 2010 at 6:20 am #

      Hi Thu. Thanks for stopping by. Yes, it is normally the hidden things that trip us up in life. When we bring our awareness to all we do – including prepping for interviews – it’s like shining a light on the things that truly need our attention.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..10 Plugins to Boost Your Blogging


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