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Message from Robin

Answering interview questions can be very difficult — and nerve-wracking. I’ve been sharing a proven strategy with my clients to help prompt them with answers and selling points while interviewing online.

Most recently I taught the technique to my client Ann, who used it successfully to nail her interview and land a job she really wanted. Read my article below, just published in Forbes, to learn how to apply this “secret-weapon” strategy. The article is my most read one so far in 2024.


The Secret Weapon To Ace Your Next Job Interview: A Proven Strategy

Answering interview questions can be very stressful. You want to do your best and impress the employer. The outcome you wish for is to get hired; yet, many times that doesn’t happen. The best career advice you can apply to improve your interviewing skills is to do your homework and prep before the job interview. That preparation is often the difference between losing out or landing that job.

When Ann read the job description, she was excited, as she could envision herself working and excelling in that new role. She called about interview coaching and explained her situation. “I was laid off a month ago, and unemployment doesn’t cover my rent. I’m single and in my early 50s, so I’m anxious about being unemployed. I love everything about this job and the organization. I have the experience and skills they ask for. I know I would be great in that role. So, when I talk to the hiring manager, I need to knock this thing out of the park.”

During the coaching session, we covered how to respond when the employer asks a difficult situational question. This requires a thoughtful and specific answer involving a work example. Learn more about creating these types of answers by reading “Ace Your Next Interview Using the STAR Method.”

We also tackled crafting effective answers to tough questions like these:

1. What are your weaknesses?
2. Tell me about yourself.
3. What is your most outstanding achievement?
4. Why should I hire you?
5. What is your salary expectation?

We role played, and she felt good about how to present herself in the best possible light. But Ann expressed another worry. She said, “Robin, I get nervous in an interview. I’m afraid my mind will go blank, and I’ll mess up. How do I get over that to feel confident and not make a big mistake?” Excellent question. Ann was quite surprised when I shared my top tip for handling the interview like a pro.

The Technique To Use

Zoom has made it easy to use this cheat-sheet strategy, which works because the employer can’t see your screen. You just need Post-it notes. Yes, you read that right — Post-it notes: those sticky pieces of paper where you will write the words to remind you of the correct answer to a specific question, and what your top selling points are. You then place these Post-its — and there will likely be a lot of them — around your monitor and on your screen.

You may also highlight essential parts of your resume and tape that to the screen. The other significant advantage is that you can maintain eye contact by looking at the monitor camera and simultaneously see your cheat notes with effective answers outlined before your eyes.

For this strategy, you can use tiny phrases and key words to remind you of answers and selling points, or, as my client Ann did, you can cover everything in detail.

Whereas some people often use tiny phrases and key words on their Post-it notes, you’ll notice in the photo that Ann covered everything in detail, which is what she said worked best for her. Either style is effective, so use whatever way best triggers your memory.

Eye Contact Is Critical

The other significant advantage of this technique is that you can maintain eye contact by looking at the monitor camera and simultaneously see your “cheat notes” with effective answers outlined before your eyes. I have coached hundreds of people on Zoom interviewing, and I’m always amazed at how many people, including professionals, glance up, down, to the side and break the critical eye contact that you must maintain during the interview.

You need to continuously look at the camera, which is the only way to maintain “eye contact” with the person on the screen. It’s not the natural thing: you want to look at the person’s face, but that doesn’t come across right to that person you are interacting with on Zoom.

Placement Does Matter

Using notes and resumes can be very obvious, if you are not careful. Position your Post-it notes as close as possible to the monitor camera using the outside edge and the screen so that you only need to glance at them. If you have so many notes that some of them are a little far away from the camera, glance at them without moving your head, and return your eyes to the camera as quickly as possible. Remember not to focus on the person’s face you see on the monitor screen. Also, don’t look down or at your keyboard which is a red flag you’re checking the resume.

Does It Make A Difference?

Ann called after the interview to say, “I nailed it. This technique was brilliant. The Post-its and my detailed notes helped me remain confident and calm and give the most effective answers I could. Remember how you told me to slow down and breathe to calm my nerves? Here’s a picture of what my computer looked like. You’ll see right in the middle of my cheat sheet it says ‘BREATH’ in yellow highlighted letters,” she said, laughing.

Two days later, Ann emailed to say, “Robin, I’m so happy. I got the job!

This all may take a bit of practice. Ask a friend to interview you on Zoom to let you know if you are maintaining good eye contact. Try this technique before your next interview. It will enable you to do your best and have the correct answers to impress an employer.

A version of this article was first published in Forbes

More Articles of Interest

If you found today’s featured article to be helpful, here are related articles by Robin to read (if you have not already done so).

Avoid These Job Interview Mistakes That Turn Employers Off — Are you underestimating how challenging online job interviewing is? Tim was. In the last year, this over 50-year-old had gone on 10 executive-level interviews and… READ MORE »

Common Zoom Job Interview Mistakes To Avoid — Many over 50-year-olds have decided to start a job search. Unfortunately, some of them have not had an interview in years. Because they… READ MORE »

Interview Coaching

You’ve found a job opening — or maybe the employer found you.  The job is promising.  You’ve sent your resume.  Now you’ve been invited to interview.

Are you ready?  

On average 80% of interviewees fail to land the job.  Many times, the first 5 minutes make or break your chances.  

You need to be ready to make the right first impression.  You need to concisely answer hard questions about situations, technical skills, and who you are.  You need to open and close strongly.  

Robin is just the person to get you ready.

She wrote a #1 bestseller book on how to interview, “60 Seconds & You’re Hired!” She’s interview coached over 3100 job seekers.  She’ll role play with you and get you prepared for tough, tricky questions.  She’ll offer hiring insights and strategies that make you stand out as the candidate to hire. She’ll guide you on salary negotiations.

To learn more, visit Robin’s Interview Coaching page for details and pricing.

About Robin Ryan

The Los Angeles Times calls Robin Ryan “America’s Top Career Expert.” 

Helping her audiences, readers, and clients succeed in their career aspirations is Robin’s passion.

She’s appeared on over 3200 TV and Radio shows including Oprah, Dr. Phil, NBC Nightly News, CNN, and NPR. Her advice has been seen on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Houston Chronicle, Forbes, and Money, just to name a few. She is a columnist for

Robin has had over 30 years of direct hiring experience and has an extensive HR background. HR Weekly named Robin Ryan as one of The 100 Most Influential People In HR for 2021.

A popular trainer and speaker, Robin’s high-energy style has had her in front of over 1200 audiences including for conferences, associations, employee groups, and college campuses.

A #1 Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, Robin’s career books include:

  • 60 Seconds & You’re Hired!
  • Over 40 & You’re Hired!
  • Winning Cover Letters
  • Soaring on Your Strengths
  • Winning Resumes

In addition to media appearances, speaking, writing bestselling books, and being a columnist, Robin offers career and job search services to clients nationwide including resume writingLinkedIn writinginterview coachingjob search coachingsalary negotiation, and career coaching for new college graduates.

Contact and Follow Robin      425.226.0414

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