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Prepare for an Interview

A successful job search has many components: an effective search strategy, a compelling resume and cover letter, and sharp job interview skills. If you’re getting a lot of interviewing invitations, completing lots of phone screens and first interviews but no job offers, it might be time to examine the last part of the equation: your interviewing techniques.

Research the company and the position

It is essential to do your research about the company and the position that you want to interview. Interviewing preparation often starts as early as you draft the cover letter. Ask yourself, why do you want to work for this company? This position? If you submitted a cover letter with your application, review the document and continue to gain knowledge about the company. Incorporating relevant company information into your interview answers shows the employer that you are interested in part of this company, not just wanting a job.

Some great resources for company research include industry professional organizations, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn, among others. Below are examples of areas to research and questions you can use as guidelines to assess the company before attending the interview:

  • What is the mission/goal of the company?
  • What major events are going on in the industry? Any major company events/leadership changes?
  • What is the business model? How does the organization make its money?
  • What products/services does the company offer? Have you used them? What do you like about it?
  • How will your position fit into the larger company strategies and future plans?

Understand the different types of interviews

HireVue (AI)/Phone/Video Interview: A mix of behavioral and situational questions to assess your fit with the company. They are usually conducted by recruiters. Dressing professionally is highly recommended for video and HireVue interviews.

Case Interview: Whereas traditional interviews seek to understand a candidate’s past experiences, a case interview presents a candidate with a scenario to assess how they approach a problem (analytical and problem-solving skills), how they engage with people (communication and interpersonal skills), and what they know about the business. Usually, you will receive a description of a situation and several questions you need to answer. The most crucial thing recruiters are looking for is your ability to ask questions and think through your solution. This means you need to communicate your entire process and ask the recruiter questions because the prompt will be deliberately vague. Conducted by employees on the team or individuals with experience. Dress professionally.

Take-Home Assignment: You will receive a prompt or case problem which you will need to solve under a certain period; depending on the role, it is recommended to save a portfolio of work that you can use to showcase your skills and knowledge.

Group Interview: You will be invited to an interview with 2-4 other candidates where there are 1-2 interviewers who will ask a series of behavioral and situational questions. In these interviews, it is essential to be aware of your ability to communicate in a group setting. Do not excessively dominate questions and do not interrupt others.

Super Day: This is a 2-day event where you will have to visit the office on-site and undergo a series of interviews to assess your candidacy. Before Super Day, there is usually a networking event where you can mingle and network with other candidates or recruiters/employees at the company. The networking event is held the night before the interviews or during the morning of the interviews. Finally, you will usually have a few back-to-back interviews, usually 45 minutes each. Throughout this event, you must be aware of your ability to communicate with employees and candidates and to endure several hours of interviewing and networking.

Panel Interview: This interview has a panel of interviewers, usually with recruiters and members of the team which you’re applying for. You may have 2-3 interviewers who may ask you a range of behavioral to technical questions. It is important to study your technical skills or research the specific team because it is more likely that they will ask you questions directly related to the role. Also, you want to use this opportunity to illustrate your fit with the team.

Luncheon/Dining Interview: This is more of a casual conversation than an interview because you will be eating lunch with the team or relevant employees. Eat food that is easy to eat so that you can focus on your conversation, avoid alcohol, and have some basic table manners. You must be an active listener. Overall, this interview aims to assess your fit with the team and your personality.

 Practice Interview questions and your answers

Prepare answers to commonly asked interview questions. Doing so will help you analyze your background and qualifications for the position. Plus, thinking through your responses will help you sound confident during the interview and avoid rambling or incoherent responses. Often time, you will come across four types of interview questions.

Factual questions – Usually start with What, when, why, how, who, how often, how many, etc. This type of question aims to gather factual information from you. Be specific with your response.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why are you applying for this position?
  • How often do you interact with clients in your current role?
  • What are your career goals?

Behavioral questions – Behavioral interview questions ask candidates to share examples of specific situations in which they had to use certain skills or explain how they navigated certain types of scenarios. Interviewers like these questions to get a more realistic and nuanced sense of how you work. Employers often start with Tell me about a time/Give me an example/Provide me with a situation where…Use the STAR method to answer these questions – Situations, Tasks, Actions, Results.

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with someone whose personality was very different from yours.
  • Give me an example of a time you faced a conflict with a coworker. How did you handle that?
  • Describe a time when you had to step up and demonstrate leadership skills.
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake and wish you’d handled a situation with a colleague differently.
  • Tell me about a time you needed to get information from someone who wasn’t very responsive. What did you do?

Technical/Industry-specific questions – These questions aim to assess your knowledge of the industry or your career aptitudes. Review industry hot topics covered in your coursework or industry trade publications related to the position.

  • Walk me through an income statement.
  • What do you think of our current social media presence? What would you improve?
  • Imagine you need to communicate bad news to a patient concerning their health. How do you go about it?

Brainteaser/Scenario-Based/Case questions – these questions are designed to assess your problem-solving skills, your communication skills, and your ability to think under pressure. The process used to solve a given challenge is of interest to employers, as it gives them a glimpse into how you would solve a real-world problem at work. Think out loud and verbalize your thought process, answer clarifying questions and focus on the rationale on how you come up with your answer rather than focusing on getting it right.

  • Why are manhole covers round?
  • How many golf balls will fit inside a double-decker bus?
  • If you have the option to eliminate color in the color spectrum, what color will you choose and why?

Overall Interview Tips

  • Preparation is vital. While you cannot anticipate every question, you can prepare to make the most of whatever you are asked. It is critical to know as much as you can both about the organization/position and industry but also do lots of self-analysis so that you can best articulate your skills and experiences.
  • Listen to the questions. While the interviewer controls the flow of the interview, you can control the content. If the employer is looking for specific facts, provide them. If a question is general, refocus it to your advantage.
  • Be honest. Let an employer get to know you. Avoid dissembling or comparing yourself to others. You want to be sure that you and the employer know what you are getting if you are hired.
  • Be positive. Never say anything negative about past experiences, employers, courses, or professors. Focus on what was positive about an experience and talk about that. Watch for your tone of voice and your body language. Remember to smile and show your confidence.
  • Be enthusiastic and demonstrate interest. If you are genuinely interested in the job, let the interviewer know that. This can be achieved by doing research on the organization prior to the interview. It can also come across by asking questions during the interview about the job, the organization and its services and products. When asking questions, be sure that the answers will give you information that you don’t already have (or should have) and that the questions are of interest to you.
  • Silence is OK. Taking a moment to consider your answer is certainly appropriate. It can be a sign of thoughtfulness and intelligence, in addition to giving you time to collect your thoughts. If an interviewer poses a question that catches you completely off guard that you cannot come up with an immediate answer, then try using some of these responses to buy time and come up with a response:
  • Stall for time – ask to have the question repeated, or paraphrase it yourself
  • Ask for a few moments to think of the best example
  • Ask for clarification or simply say, “That is a great question, I will get back to you later.”
  • Take notes during your interview. Write down the name of the interviewer and keywords of the interview questions. It helps you to focus on the purpose of the question.
  • Convey professionalism, maturity, and poise in all interactions with the organization. In a sense, the interview process extends well beyond your actual interview to include all interactions with the organization, employer presentations, night-before events, and correspondence.
  • Ask for the next step. At the end of the interview, ask for the next phase of the process. Follow up with a thank you email or notes within 24 hours of your interview. Take some time to reflect on your interview and write a thank you note to each interviewer.
  • Practice, practice, practice. It is not easy to prepare for job interviews. Schedule a mock interview with one of our career advisors to practice and rehearse your answers.



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