You’ve got an interview invitation. Congratulations! But what’s next? This section will talk about what and how you should research before you attend a job interview. The preparation at this stage is going to be significant in helping you to crush the interview and get the dream job you want.
Types of Interview
The first thing you need to know is how you will be interviewed because you are not going to assume it is a one-to-one interview. Then you come into a room full of people, or you receive an interview call from the hiring manager while you are sipping wine in your bathtub.
1. Traditional Interview
This is the most common form of an interview. No worries. You will be asked a few questions by facing just one interviewer, and you better make sure you do whatever it takes to impress this one person who is going to decide if you are hired or not.
2. Phone Interview
Definitely not the type of interview you want to do when you are in the toilet. It is akin to a traditional interview, except that you are given a call instead. In a phone interview, the way you speak is significantly important than in a traditional interview because the interviewer does not see you. Your voice helps the interviewer to imagine how you look and who you are.
3. Video Interview (One-way and/or Two-way)
This has become the norm recently by taking the traditional interview completely online. A video interview can either be a traditional interview done remotely or an on-demand/one-way interview. In a one-way interview, you will be required to record your response to a set of questions for the interviewer (or perhaps an AI) to review. This can be one of the most stressful interviews to do if you are not a tech person or always have too many distractions around. (Cue: Mom and dog)
While a two-way interview might be final, the on-demand interview is often used during the beginning stage before you are invited to talk with the interviewer.
4. Case Interview
This is more common in positions like consultants and strategists. The interviewer will give a scenario, and you will be asked to explain how you will manage and solve a situation. This is to test your analytical and problem-solving abilities.
5. Puzzle Interview
This is often done in the middle of the interview or when you are least expected. It aims to test certain skills like creativity, logical thinking, problem-solving, humor, or personality traits. For example, “Design an evacuation plan for this office building.” There is often no right or wrong answer to the question.
6. Lunch Interview
A lunch interview is a more informal type of interview, and you can eat while you busy presenting yourself as the best candidate. This is usually a test of your social skills when you are under pressure, just act like you are meeting your client even if you know the interviewers are judging you from how you talk, how you behave with other people, what you order, and what you eat. Be selectively honest to build relationships, but don’t go overboard.
Don’t order anything that will stick on your teeth, either.
7. Group Interview
This is where you will be interviewed with other shortlisted candidates together. You will need to show empathy, respect, and active listening while taking the chance to contribute to the conversation with a clear objective and purpose. Be sure to keep your handphone in your bag, socialize and interact with other candidates.
8. Working Interview
For an interviewer to test your skill, you will need to perform an actual task. If you really possess a certain skill, this form of the interview will do the talk for you.
9. Panel Interview
This is like a traditional interview, but you face not one, but a few interviewers who may be from the same or different departments. Trying to impress several people at once takes a bit of work. The first vital step would be asking who is in this panel and from which department.
After knowing what type of interview you will be in, be sure to ask who will be the interviewer(s). It’s good if you can get both the name and position. If you can’t, the position is sufficient for you to do further research. Let’s move on to what you need to do next.
Research the Company and Interviewer
The reason we are researching the company is that you can feel more confident walking into the room, and your answer can be more relevant. It shows you do the homework and are genuinely interested in their company. Attending a job interview without doing any research about the company is a big no-no. It shows you just need a job, instead of a career. So where can you get this information and what should you look for?
1. Company website
You get a direct source of information from the website. Extract and understand every piece of information. If there is any term you don’t understand, make sure you further research it. Don’t forget to look at their photo albums too. Knowing how the internal company and the people look like will help you to feel less nervous and fit in faster.
- Story (‘About’ section)
- Products or services with different brand names and functions
- Press releases
- Top management
Look for keywords and phrases that are being repeated throughout the website and jot them down to be used in your interview answers later.
2. Official social media profiles
This includes all the famous social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. You are not only looking at what the company has posted. You are also going to read the reviews and comments to know what their customers think and what is happening as well. It’s also important to see what is their latest marketing campaign to know where their current effort is on.
This is not just for the company. You can search for interviewers’ profiles, too, especially on LinkedIn. If you don’t know the name and/or the position, you can search for the employees listing who work at the company and make your best guess by job titles. Learn the interviewers’ backgrounds, what they shared and posted to learn what are their interests and values, and their articles if they wrote any. If you have a network who works in this company, don’t be afraid to ask if he/she can give you some information you need.
Google is the best place to gather information. Just by searching the company’s name, you would get news, images, articles, and reviews related to it. You are not going to stop here. You also need to search for the company’s competitors and make a simple comparison of what makes each other different. If your company makes a lot of brands or models, be sure you know the different functionality of each product.
4. Annual reports
If the company is a public listed company, you can have a look at their annual report. It offers useful information on key executives, the latest and detailed company profile, and financial report. If the financial report is a bit complicated for you, just search for the company’s name on Bloomberg, you will get an overview of their income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow at the bottom of the page. Studying annual reports is not necessary if you are not applying for a job at any business-related departments like sales and accounting. However, if you’re applying for managerial positions, it’s always good to know.
Specifically, look for any interview experience shared by past candidates so you can be better prepared psychologically, and more importantly, you can prepare the answers for questions commonly asked by the interviewers.
Using Google may seem obvious, but you will be surprised at how some people still don’t make use of Google to search for information. Simply type ‘<Company Name> interview experience’, and there will be tons of information that Google organizes for you.
Examine the Job Description
This step is very important. You might have applied for many jobs, and you forgot what’s required and stated in this job description. Re-study and find out the following:
Do you have the experience in doing all the tasks required? Be prepared to be asked about your experience in handling those tasks. Find an opportunity to demonstrate you are able to do the required tasks well.
Do you possess all the skills required? If there is something you don’t have, don’t expect the interviewers to skip asking what you don’t know or think that you can lie about it. Take up a short online course to study on it so you are confident about what to talk about when you are asked, and they will be impressed that you can pick up a new skill within a short period.
Nice-to-have or bonus
Again, be sure to study it if you don’t know. It’s nice to show your commitment and determination to get the job.
It’s important to know all the keywords in the job description and make sure you speak and know what are they in the interview. Resumeworded.com offers free solution to help you extract the important keywords.
Now you know what skill is required and what is your job responsibility. Recall your education and/or career journey and jot down the following:
Situation — What was the context or story?
Task — What problem or challenge you needed to achieve?
Action — What you did to solve the problem or challenge?
Result — What is the outcome of the action?
This will be very useful for you to prepare in advance, so you have stories and achievements to tell when you are asked different interview questions— including questions about hard skills. Some of you may be too nervous to think of any on the spot. Always remember to answer the interview questions with STAR so your answer sounds credible and interesting.
Prepare Interview Questions and Rehearse the Answers
If you have done in-depth research on the interview experience, you would have had several actual questions asked by the company on your notes. By using the STAR method, you can prepare for your answers. Also, don’t forget other common questions such as:
- Tell us about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What has been your biggest professional disappointment?
- Tell me about your dream job?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Why are you interested in our company?
- If you will be given a chance to work in a team, describe the role that you are most likely to play.
- Tell me about a time you disagreed with a decision, and what did you do?
Of course, we never know what kind of questions the interviewers will actually ask. If you have prepared the front sections well, try your communication ability and see how you perform by practicing the interview more on Rehearso.
Prepare Questions for Interviewers
“Do you have any questions for me?” the interviewer asks. Of course, you have! It shows that you are getting ready and are very interested in working with them by offering what you have. You are also taking this opportunity to evaluate if this company’s management, leadership, and culture are a good fit for you. Be sure you are not asking the obvious questions you can get the information easily online and don’t negotiate about the salary because you haven’t got the job yet. The questions you need to ask must be something we call insider information.
Ask questions like:
- What are the most immediate projects that need to be addressed?
- What attributes does someone need to have in order to be successful in this position?
- What is the biggest challenge facing the company now?
- What are the performance expectations of this position over the first 12 months?
- How will my performance be evaluated?
- What are the prospects for growth and promotion?
- What’s your most favorite part about working in this company?
- Where do you see this company in the next five years?
- What are the common career paths in this company?
- Does the team hang out outside the office?
Last but not least, it is great to close the whole interview session by asking:
“Is there anything that concerns you about me to be a good fit for this role?”
You would be surprised the interviewer would often give you a very honest reply that you could address on the spot! This also leaves a good impression that you are genuinely interested and determined in getting the job.
That's it for the preparation that you can do in any interview! You should always highlight your relevant or transferable experience, skills, and achievements (what you have achieved-- big or small) to let the interviewers know that you can be a good fit. Your performance will show if you have done sufficient preparation, and it's hard to lie. Nevertheless, you should practice speaking the answers to different interview questions to increase your confidence and reduce the anxiety in the stressful environment to appear professional and reliable.