Interview preparation

During your prep work, you should use the employer’s posted job description as a guide. The job description is a list of the qualifications, qualities and background the employer is looking for in an ideal candidate. The more you can align yourself with these details, the more the employer will be able to see that you are qualified. The job description may also give you ideas about questions the employer may ask throughout the interview.

Woman preparing for job interview

Numbers 1-7 Know Your Audience

Get a sense of “who” the company is and how to embody a similar personality during your interview. Start by reading the company’s blog and Facebook page—the tone of the company’s content on these sites will speak volumes. Or, try reading individual employees’ blogs to figure out what type of people work (and excel) there.

Twitter can also be an excellent resource because you can see what the company and its employees are talking about. Are they sarcastically bantering with each other? Feel free to throw a few jokes in as you’re meeting with people. Are they tweeting up a storm about an event or product launch? Use it as a conversation starter.

No matter what role you’re interviewing for—engineering, sales, marketing—you should always use the product before your first interview (and ideally, a few times). If hired, your goal will be to create value for the people who use that product, and being a user yourself is the first step.

Before your interview, get a list of the people you’re meeting with from the company. Then learn more about them—including what type of behavior might intrigue them or turn them off. Finally, prep some questions that are specific to each interviewer: Ask for details about her focus at the firm, discuss current events on his specialty, or bring up a common interest you know he or she has outside the office.

Different companies use different types of interviews, so ask what you’ll be faced with. For example, some companies will ask case questions or brain teasers while others will give a standard set of typical interview and leadership questions. Asking the recruiter or HR contact about the interview format ahead of time is totally fair game. And once you know, investing time to become familiar with this style can make a huge difference.

Perform research on the company and role

Researching the company you’re applying to is an important part of preparing for an interview. Not only will it help provide context for your interview conversations, but it will also help you when preparing thoughtful questions for your interviewers.

and role as much as possible will give you an edge over the competition. Not only that, but fully preparing for an interview will help you remain calm so that you can be at your best. Here are a few things you should know before you walk into your interview:

Research the product or service

Even if the role isn’t directly related to the company’s product or service, you’re still looking to be part of the team. It’s important to learn all you can about the product or service the company produces and promotes. You don’t necessarily need to understand each and every detail, especially if it’s a technical product, and you’re interviewing for a non-technical position, but you should have a basic understanding of the main products or services the company offers.

If possible, request a sample of the product to familiarize yourself with the customer’s perspective. The more you can tell them about the product from both a company and customer standpoint, the better you’ll perform in your interview.

Research the role

It’s important to read the job description carefully and make sure that you understand all the requirements and responsibilities that go along with it. This will not only prepare you with thoughtful, targeted questions about the position during the interview, but it will ensure that you’re truly qualified and prepared to tackle the responsibilities if you get the job.

If possible, research similar positions and read reviews from individuals in those positions, so you can get an idea of what the day-to-day activities will be. During the interview, ask for clarification or details about the role, so you can be sure you’re ready should you receive a job offer. Researching the role before an interview will also help you to decide whether the position is right for you.

Research the company culture

Modern companies usually have social media accounts and blogs that discuss their company culture and industry. This information can give you an impression of the tone and personality of the company, as well as what they value. No matter how good a job seems, it’s important that you fit within the company culture and share a similar personality and values.

If you have questions about the workplace environment, culture, personality or values, be sure to ask during the interview. These questions can range from the software and tools used by the company, to their policies on vacation and sick time. Remember that the interview is just as much about you finding a good fit for your own work environment as it is about the company finding a good fit for the role. Knowing that your values align with the company ensures a happy professional life. This is also the perfect opportunity to find out more about the company and show the interviewer how you’ll fit.

Consider your answers to common interview questions

While you won’t be able to predict every question you’ll be asked in an interview, there are a few common questions you can plan answers for. You might also consider developing an elevator pitch that quickly describes who you are, what you do and what you want.

There are some jobs that may involve a test or evaluation during the interview process. For example, if you are interviewing for a computer programming, development or analytics role, you might also be asked to write or evaluate lines of code. It might be helpful to consult with colleagues in the industry for examples of tests they’ve been given to prepare.

Why do you want to work here?

Example: “I’d love the opportunity to work with a company that’s making a difference. Finding a company with a positive work environment and values that align with my own has remained a priority throughout my job search, and this company ranks at the top of the list.”

What interests you about this role?

Employers ask this question to make sure you understand the role, and to give you the opportunity to highlight your relevant skills. It can be helpful to compare the role requirements against your skills and experience. Choose a few things you particularly enjoy or excel at, and focus on those in your answer.

Example: “I’ve been passionate about user experience design for most of my professional career. I was excited to see this company uses Adobe products because I’m well-versed in the entire suite. Also, I’m a huge advocate for applying agile workflows to design. I think it’s the most effective way to tackle large projects. I was able to successfully build and launch an agile process in my previous role as UX manager, and we saw considerable improvements in project speed.”

What are your greatest strengths?

This question gives you an opportunity to talk about both your technical and soft skills. When an interviewer asks you to describe your strengths, share qualities and personal attributes and then relate them back to the role for which you’re interviewing.

Example: “I’m a natural problem-solver. I find it rewarding to dig deep and uncover solutions to challenges—it’s like solving a puzzle. It’s something I’ve always excelled at, and something I enjoy. Much of product development is about finding innovative solutions to challenging issues, which is what drew me to this career path in the first place.”

End of the interview

At the end of your interview, smile and thank the people involved for their time. While decisions and job offers are usually made some time after the interview(s), should an offer of employment be made at the conclusion of any interview you attend, ask whether the offer will be confirmed in writing. Also, it is not unreasonable to request a short period of time to consider the offer before formally accepting in writing. Our job offer acceptance template and tips may help.

Preparing for a job interview means taking the time to understand the process, how to answer job interview questions, and how to present yourself in the best possible light. Survey after survey highlights the positive impact that taking the time to prepare for a job interview has on your success, so it’s well worth your effort.

Interview preparation

You can’t present yourself as the perfect fit for a job if you don’t fully understand the job. Take some time to review the original job description. Print it out, write notes on it and take it with you to the interview. (This is a great visual cue to the hiring manager!). Make sure you’re absolutely clear on the responsibilities and tasks associated with the position.

→ Click here to download our free guide to hiring and training a team of all-stars [Free Ebook].

Research the organization

Before walking into an interview, you need to do your homework. That means researching the company, knowing the products or services they provide, understanding the industry within which they operate, and getting a sense of the challenges they face.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in an interview is to ask a question, the answer to which is readily available online. Spend a few hours reviewing everything you can on the organization’s website and social media channels. Look for recent stories about the organization on Google News.

If possible, review the company’s most recent annual report. And check out perspectives from current and former employees on (Just treat these employee reviews with a degree of skepticism, as they tend to be either very negative or very positive.)

The goal is to enter your interview already knowing the organization’s challenges and priorities. This enables you to present yourself as someone who can help solve specific pain points for the employer.

20 Tips for Great Job Interviews

1. Research the industry and company.
An interviewer may ask how you perceive his company’s position in its industry, who the firm’s competitors are, what its competitive advantages are, and how it should best go forward. For this reason, avoid trying to thoroughly research a dozen different industries. Focus your job search on just a few industries instead.

2. Clarify your "selling points" and the reasons you want the job.
Prepare to go into every interview with three to five key selling points in mind, such as what makes you the best candidate for the position. Have an example of each selling point prepared ("I have good communication skills. For example, I persuaded an entire group to . "). And be prepared to tell the interviewer why you want that job – including what interests you about it, what rewards it offers that you find valuable, and what abilities it requires that you possess. If an interviewer doesn’t think you’re really, really interested in the job, he or she won’t give you an offer – no matter how good you are!

3. Anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations.
There are always more candidates for positions than there are openings. So interviewers look for ways to screen people out. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself why they might not want to hire you (“I don’t have this,” “I’m not that,” etc.). Then prepare your defense: “I know you may be thinking that I might not be the best fit for this position because [their reservation]. But you should know that [reason the interviewer shouldn’t be overly concerned]."

4. Prepare for common interview questions.
Every "how to interview" book has a list of a hundred or more "common interview questions." (You might wonder just how long those interviews are if there are that many common questions!) So how do you prepare? Pick any list and think about which questions you’re most likely to encounter, given your age and status (about to graduate, looking for a summer internship). Then prepare your answers so you won’t have to fumble for them during the actual interview.

5. Line up your questions for the interviewer.
Come to the interview with some intelligent questions for the interviewer that demonstrate your knowledge of the company as well as your serious intent. Interviewers always ask if you have any questions, and no matter what, you should have one or two ready. If you say, "No, not really," he or she may conclude that you’re not all that interested in the job or the company. A good all-purpose question is, "If you could design the ideal candidate for this position from the ground up, what would he or she be like?"

If you’re having a series of interviews with the same company, you can use some of your prepared questions with each person you meet (for example, "What do you think is the best thing about working here?" and "What kind of person would you most like to see fill this position?") Then, try to think of one or two others during each interview itself.

6. Practice, practice, practice.
It’s one thing to come prepared with a mental answer to a question like, "Why should we hire you?" It’s another challenge entirely to say it out loud in a confident and convincing way. The first time you try it, you’ll sound garbled and confused, no matter how clear your thoughts are in your own mind! Do it another 10 times, and you’ll sound a lot smoother and more articulate.

But you shouldn’t do your practicing when you’re "on stage" with a recruiter; rehearse before you go to the interview. The best way to rehearse? Get two friends and practice interviewing each other in a "round robin": one person acts as the observer and the "interviewee" gets feedback from both the observer and the "interviewer." Go for four or five rounds, switching roles as you go. Another idea (but definitely second-best) is to tape record your answer and then play it back to see where you need to improve. Whatever you do, make sure your practice consists of speaking aloud. Rehearsing your answer in your mind won’t cut it.

7. Score a success in the first five minutes.
Some studies indicate that interviewers make up their minds about candidates in the first five minutes of the interview – and then spend the rest of the interview looking for things to confirm that decision! So what can you do in those five minutes to get through the gate? Come in with energy and enthusiasm, and express your appreciation for the interviewer’s time. (Remember: She may be seeing a lot of other candidates that day and may be tired from the flight in. So bring in that energy!)

Also, start off with a positive comment about the company – something like, "I’ve really been looking forward to this meeting [not "interview"]. I think [the company] is doing great work in [a particular field or project], and I’m really excited by the prospect of being able to contribute."

Post-Interview Preparation Checklist

Just because you’ve shaken the hands of your interviewer(s) and taken a big sigh of relief, it doesn’t mean the interview is behind you. Of course, you could be brought in for second, third, or fourth interviews, but no matter what stage you’re at, it’s important to leave a good, lasting impression.

1. Ask about the next steps.

Either at the end of your interview or immediately after, you’ll want to ask about the timeline for the next steps of the hiring process. This way, you can anticipate when you’ll hear back from the company. You may need to take an edit test, share more samples of your work, or return for another interview.

2. Follow up with a thank you.

Always follow up an interview with a thank-you note. It’s best to send along a handwritten note to show your care and attention to detail. But if you don’t have the time to do so, an email is also a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration. If you don’t know the interviewer’s email, you can also email the recruiter or other point of contact and ask them to send along your gratitude.

Interview preparation

This cheatsheet provides you with ~10 techniques to do the 2 most important things you need to do in a coding interview: finding approaches to solve the problem presented, and optimizing the time and space complexity of your approaches.

Interview Preparation

Then take a look at the advice below by clicking on the heading that suits you. Every interview is unique but we have included some commonly asked questions below. The STAR technique is really useful when preparing to answer competency questions. We also have advice on difficult to answer questions as well as some tips for non-traditional interviews.

You have secured an Interview – well done!! The key to doing a successful interview is good preparation, the information below outlines 10 tips to prepare for and succeed in the hot seat!

1. Think Positively

2. Be Prepared

3. Anticipate the Questions

4. Plan Ahead

5. Build Rapport

6. Know your Skills

7. Don’t hang out your Dirty Laundry!

8. Remember – It’s a conversation!

9. Questions you can ask

10. End on a high

Interview Preparation Step #2: Anticipating Additional Questions

If you’ve memorized your answers to the core questions above, you’re in a great place preparation-wise. Next, we want to find any other company-or-job-specific questions that might be thrown at us during the interview.

How To Get A Job Anywhere - Google Glassdoor

How To Get A Job Anywhere - Google Interviews Tab

On the next screen you can type in the title of the role(s) you’re applying for and filter by geo. This will pull up the interview experiences people have submitted for those roles and geos. This is really helpful because you can get a sense of interviews at a specific office (the experience definitely varies from office to office at most companies):

How To Get A Job Anywhere - HowCandidate Interview Reviews

Next, you’ll want to scan through the reviews left by other candidates. All of the information here is helpful for getting a sense of the interview process, but you specifically want to pay attention to the “Interview Questions” section. This is where people will post questions they got during their interview. You’ll want to keep track of these in a Google doc or something similar:

How To Get A Job Anywhere - Account Manager Interview

After scanning through a few dozen interviews, you’ll have a good sense of the process as well as an idea of other questions you may be asked on the big day. If you really want to go the extra mile and be 150% prepared, you can check out this list of ~60 interview questions along with strategies on how to best answer them.

Interview Preparation Step #3: Researching The Company

Read / Listen To Earnings Calls

Public companies are required to share financial information, challenges, initiatives, etc. with their shareholders. They typically do this on a quarterly call and the recordings and transcripts for those calls are available to the public.

Image of Tesla Shareholder Meeting Webcast

Subscribe To Alerts On Seeking Alpha

All you need to do is enter a company’s stock ticker and you’ll have access to dozens of free articles spanning the entire spectrum of opinions about the company and its future. If you hit the “Get Alerts” button in the upper right, you’ll get a daily email digest of the most popular and relevant articles:

Microsoft - Seeking Alpha Screenshot

Private companies require a little more research since most of their information isn’t available to the public. Here are a few ways to get info on them (pro tip – you can also use these for researching the public companies as well):

Comb Through Their Social Media Community

Next, find current employees on these platforms and see what they’re talking about. Are they shooting witty jokes back and forth, or are they more on the polished, professional side? Are they talking about the same release/event, or is there something else that’s causing a buzz.

Watch/Listen To Interviews With Senior Employees

Casper is a private startup looking to disrupt the highly-outdated mattress and sleep industry. About two minutes of YouTube searching brought me to a recent interview with the co-founder and CEO of Casper, Philip Krim.

In the interview, Krim discusses the challenges of disrupting an industry of sleeping giants as well as his plans for the company’s future. There is a lot of great info in here that can be used to craft solid interview questions or even a Value Validation Project:

Reach Out To Former Employees

LinkedIn’s filters allow you to search for Past Companies so you can leverage that to find alumni of the company you’re looking for. When you reach out and set up the conversation, your goal is to understand the status of the when that person left, as well as the challenges the company was facing. They also may have a few ideas for solving them that you can leverage in your interview.

Survey Their Customers/Prospects

Regardless of who your target company is, they’re going to have customers / prospects that they’re trying to sell into for one reason or another. Those customers can be a goldmine of info because if there’s one cohort of people that isn’t afraid to speak their mind — it’s them.

Whether you get people on the phone, in person, or you get them to fill out a survey (here’s a great survey/form builder), you can use this data to identify opportunities and create a story through your interview answers or your Value Validation Project.


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