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Women at Work

This Master Interviewer Has 5 Tips For You

From returning to work after an illness to re-upping your skills.

Martina Lauchengco, Operating Partner at Costanoa Ventures, has spent over twenty years as a marketing and product executive at top companies. And those top companies include Netscape, Microsoft, Loudcloud, and now Costanoa Ventures where she works with fast-growing startups to build their teams. Martina has interviewed thousands of candidates and knows just what it takes to nail an interview.

Martina sat down with a small group of PowerToFly VIP's and answered all of their questions regarding the interview process. Do you want access to exclusive chats with women like Martina? Click here to become a PowerToFly VIP and join our community of women here to empower one another.


Q: What are your best interview prep tips?

ML: Make sure you do the work before you get there. Go to the site, review the products, and get to know their competitors space.

Q: What was it like interviewing at Microsoft?

ML: I really liked interviewing at Microsoft because I was able to learn so much. You had to be mentally on the entire time because you were trying to go through an exercise of pushing someone else through their mental paces, and assessing their capacity and talent beyond what they could talk about. It required being nimble, and thinking just as much as the person you were interviewing.

Q: How would you handle addressing technical skills that have stagnated?

ML: Take the opportunity to teach yourself new skills. Know how you like to learn, and go do it - whether it's the classroom, self taught, or another way. Different disciplines have different requirements around whether or not you need to true up on things. If you're on the coding side, you would have to be current on those technologies. If you're on the marketing side, there's a lot in the marketing technology stack that has evolved very rapidly that you would want to spend some time retraining on.

Q: What would you say if you had to stop working for a year due to health issues?

ML: First of all, it is far more important to step out of work and take care of your health than to work through the issues - and so I would spin it that way. Something like, "I spent a year dealing with my health issue so I could be my complete self when I returned to work."

Q: How do you balance being assertive and being perceived as forceful?

ML: I think this is a perpetual balance for women, and there is no single right answer - it's very contextual, and it has to do with the environment, and the moment you are in. This "balance" has just as much to do with who's in the room and how they are perceiving the information as well as how you are actually acting.

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