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3 Interviewing Lessons From the Woman Who Went on 100 Job Interviews

Sofia Faruqi has this job interview thing down to a science, and no wonder: while working her way through school from 2007 until 2013, she interviewed 100 times at 40 different financial-services firms.

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(Photo Credit: Notions Capital/Flickr)

In a recent conversation with The Wall Street Journal, she explained what she learned from going on so many job interviews. Here are three lessons you can apply to your own experience.

1. Have an elevator pitch.

You'd be surprised how many interviewees get tripped up on the first question, which is generally some variation on the dreaded, "Tell us about yourself."

Faruqi can give her entire biography in about two minutes:

"I am originally from Pakistan, and grew up in the Middle East. I got a scholarship to study in the U.S. at Dartmouth, and that’s how I came here. After undergrad, I started doing investment banking at JPMorgan JPM -0.01% in New York, and then during the financial crisis of 2009 I discovered that my passion was in the stock market and investing. So, I joined the investment team at a pension fund in Toronto, and that later led me to business school at Wharton, during which I worked at a hedge fund in San Francisco. After that, I managed money for a client for a few months after business school, and then in February I started at Loring, Wolcott & Coolidge."

Note what she includes and doesn't include: her passion for investing makes the cut, as do the brand-name schools and firms that might impress a hiring manager, but she doesn't get bogged down in titles or minutiae.

2. Be prepared for bad questions.

An interviewer once asked Faruqi, "What’s the most exaggerated point on your resume?" Surprisingly, she didn't object to that, although it's more confrontational than many of us would find strictly comfortable.

"It's a good question, because all resumes have some level of exaggeration. It's really good to just ask that outright," she says.

What's the worst question she's been asked? "Will you go out with me?" has to be right up there.

3. Strike a balance between confidence and humility.

"It's about having what I would say is a humble confidence," she says. "So you never want to lie to yourself and pretend you know something you don't. But at the same time, you don't want to openly say that you have no idea about something."

Tell Us What You Think

What's the worst question you've ever been asked during a job interview? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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