You have applied to a job (or been approached by a headhunter) for a great job opportunity?
Congratulations, you have passed the first stage of the recruitment pre-screening process, and it means your qualifications, skills and experience are relevant for the job you have applied for (or been approached for).
It’s now time to prepare for the interview. Here is our motto: The interview is successful when prepared.
Contrary to what people may think, the interview is not a freestyle exercise. You are competing with other job seekers for the role, who may present some unique capabilities for the job position for which you are being considered.
If you want to really stand out, you need to review what makes you a great hire for the organization and be able to convey the main selling points of your application in a clear and concise manner.
Although you need to be authentic and natural as much as possible, interviews must be carefully prepared to put all the chances on your side to succeed.
In this article, we make a complete breakdown of all the things you should think about, before, during, and after the interview.
Let’s dive in!
I. Before the interview
The first common question we get asked is “How long should I take to prepare for the interview?”
We understand you may have different time constraints. Ideally, starting to prepare at least a week in advance is best. It will allow you to collect information about the company, form your own opinion about the company, and rehearse as required.
Do not panic if you just have a few days to prepare, you will just need to condense your preparation more effectively. Below are the items we consider mandatory to prepare before the interview.
Understand the job description and main job requirements
You have applied to a job description to join a role in the company. This is where you should start: read the job description thoroughly and carefully. Here is the information you should screen in the job description:
- Job mission and Responsibilities: Understand the expectations of the job, as well as the main responsibilities. You can deduce what will be the main KPIs of the job by looking at these sections
- Skills and Requirements: Review the skills requirements to determine whether you will be a good fit for the position. Do not just look at hard skills requirements, look at the personality profile, culture fit requirements and soft skills required to see if you are a good fit.
- Company Introduction: Read and understand the company mission and vision, the industry they operate in as well as the company’s values. They are often listed in the Job description header. This is giving you an indication of what type of candidate the company is looking for.
- Reporting structure and work relationships: Understand who you will be reporting to. Good job descriptions usually mention which departments you will collaborate with. This will give you an indication of the current hierarchy and your position in the organization.
- Compensation and benefits: Check if the range advertised is matches your current skillset and expertise level. Ensure the responsibilities advertised are higher than the ones you currently have, and that compensation is proportionally higher.
- Career Development: Look at hints of career development opportunities in the job description. This should help you project yourself in the company.
- Identify the key experience and skills that are looked for in the job description and highlight them.
- Make a list of your experience and skills that match the ones listed in the job description. By doing so, you will be able to better articulate why you are the right candidate for the job.
You may want to highlight the areas really interests you about the job mission. These are your key motivators!
Research about the organization and its employees
You are going to join an employer for the years to come. As a first step, we recommend looking into the organization’s mission, industry, and most importantly, how they treat their employees. To do so, start by looking at the company’s website
What you should look in the company’s website and career page (if available)
- About Us page: Go through the about us page to learn how the company describes itself, and what is the company’s vision, mission, values, and culture. Know the company values by heart.
- Products and Services: Understand what products and services are provided by the company. List at least 3 customers that the company has. You can get this information in the testimonials, products, and services section.
- News and Press Releases: Learn if there have been any significant company accomplishments or milestones. This can be about the business, internal activities, product releases, technology advancements etc. List at least 2 major events about the company.
- Leadership Team: Understand the company’s internal structure by looking at the leadership team. You can look at the background of the founders to understand the core expertise of the C-Level team.
Look at the company on social media
· On LinkedIn and Facebook: Check the online presence of the company, and how they communicate to their customers and employees.
Important: check who will be your future boss/manager, his/her background, and commonalities. He/she may come from the same school, same previous company, same previous industry, or share the same interests and values. Note the common interests you may have with your future boss/manager, you may use these as good conversation fillers during the interview.
· In blogs and newspapers: Understand the company’s perspective on industry trends and use this content to nurture your own opinions about the industry and the activities of the company.
· Reviews and Ratings on Glassdoor: Have a look at Glassdoor to know what former and current employees say about the company. This can help you understand the company's culture and what it is like to work there.
Prepare for the most recurring interview questions
You cannot foresee all the questions that will be asked during the interview. But there are very recurring questions that are asked during the interview stage.
Start with this assumption: Most managers are not prepared to lead effective interviews. Questions that are asked to candidates are often general because of this lack of preparation. It is your duty to channel the answer in a way that makes sense and that will support your application moving forward.
Here are some of the most recurring questions you should be ready for:
1. Can You Introduce yourself?
Most interviews will start with this question. Your objective is to set the tone for the rest of the interview.
Whenever you are asked to introduce yourself, do not go over 3 minutes mark. You must know in advance how to effectively present yourself and highlight the key points of your experience.
Use the following methodology
- Your name and where you come from
- Your educational background (be brief)
- What lead you to pursue a career in your past and current industry (highlight your motivators)
- List the main responsibilities of your previous jobs (3 key points maximum + 1 achievement)!
- End with why are you applying for the job, and your key motivations!
The closing of the introduction is very important. Your objective is to make the interviewer feel that your application to the role is obvious because your previous choices are consistent.
2. Why did you apply here?
Managers want to know if you have made some research about the company and the job you are applying for.
In addition, they need to know if you are able to display a good level of enthusiasm about the role. Being enthusiastic implies that you possess a go-getter mindset and that you will overcome barriers and frustrations when times get tough.
To answer this question, you may highlight what you appreciate most about the company from your understanding. It could be the quality of their products and services or their unique company culture. If you bring up the core values of the company, tell them what they mean to you, and explain how the company culture would help you become a better professional.
Important: This is when you should restitute the main points you have highlighted when you read the job description and performed the company research. Place them here.
3. Why Should We Hire You?
Even if this question is very recurring, many candidates fall short on this one. The manager wants to know if you are able to present yourself in your best light and test your selling skills.
The best way to answer this question is to link your arguments with the requirements of the role (using the job description). Provide factual information to make them believe what you say. For example, if the job description mentions someone who is able to develop a network of top decision-makers, highlight the situations that you have faced in this situation or experiences that you have successfully accomplished.
On top of this, you should add something personal about yourself. Highlight one of your character traits that stands out and how it helps you be a better professional. So ask yourself: what are the unique qualities that I possess? What are the qualities that your close ones are using to describe you?
This trait should be unique to you and you should be able to detail it with a practical experience or situation.
If you are able to restitute a short and compelling story about how this personality trait makes you become a better professional, you will score even more points.
Always remember this: if you advance a quality or a personality trait that you have, you should always come up with an example. That is what will make you earn the trust of the interviewer.
Other most recurring questions to prepare for:
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you know about our company?
- How do you handle stress under pressure?
- What are your salary expectations?
- How do you prioritize and manage your workload?
- What are your long-term career goals?
- How do you handle conflict or difficult colleagues?
- Are there any questions you have for us about the position or company?
Know your current salary and expected salary package
If the salary has not been discussed during the pre-qualification steps (phone call with the HR department), you are very likely to disclose your current salary and/or your salary expectations for the role during the interview. To evaluate if the salary offered for the position matches your expectations, you should:
- Do your research: Check the salary range in the job description and ensure it matches the salary range for the same jobs in the industry. Look for salary data job portals or consult salary surveys for the same roles, seniority, or in industry. your industries.
- Consider other benefits when evaluating a job offer: Salary is important, but other benefits such as: annual leavee, flexibility at work, remote work option, healthcare plans, phone, and IT equipment budgets, etc. can also add significant value to a job offer
When interviews go well, you can bet that the hiring managers or HR will ask you the following questions at the end of the interview :
- What is your current salary package?
- What is your expected salary package?
- What is your notice period? When is the soonest you can start working with the company?
When interviews do not go well, the hiring team may not bother asking the above questions.
In any case, you do not want to come across unprepared for these questions related to the salary and package expectations, and here is why:
- If you advance a number that is inaccurate during the meeting, and then correct it later, this may reflect badly on your application and character (the hiring team may think you were not transparent inat the first place).
- If you commit to a starting date that is not realistic (and itthat may not respect the legal duration writtenlisted in your existing employment agreement), you may also leave on in bad terms with your current employer.
Keep in mind this is usually acceptable for companies but it does not mean you will be guaranteed this amount. Some candidates jump into new roles for lower salary increases, and some others for higher increases, even if this is more complicated.
Knowing what exact salary you are earning and what is your expectation is in advance to help will help you define the minimum salary you do not want to go below.
Be flexible and polite throughout the salary discussion. Avoid expressing harsh opinions about salary and avoid making ultimatums or direct confrontations. This could harm your chances of getting the job offer.
Prepare your outfit the day before the interview
When it comes to interviews, first impressions count. Study shows that hiring managers make up their mind about candidates of decisions are made within the first minutes of the interview.
Ensure you have chosen the right outfit for the interview the day before the interview. Choosing your outfit before the interview will help you make the right decision and reduce the stress related to the interview.
Consider this to choose the right outfit:
- Pick an outfit that matches the company culture: You have already looked for the company culture and dress code. Use your research to help you select an appropriate outfit.
- Dress professionally no matter what: Dressing in a professional manner is always a safe bet. Avoid fancy colors and prioritize formal neutral color codes such as white, grey, black, navy, and beige and that fit the common perception of the interview exercise. Ensure that the outfit you pick is comfortable and fits well.
- Avoid wearing too everyday casual wears: Too casual outfits, such as t-shirts, shorts or jeans. It will give the impression you are not taking the interview seriously. Again, if the company culture says otherwise then you may adapt accordingly and wear casual wear.
- Avoid excessive jewelry or accessories: Keep jewelry and accessories to a minimum. They Accessories can be distracting and take away from the focus of the hiring manager.
- Dress for the position and for the industry: Consider the position you are interviewing for and dress accordingly. If you are interviewing for a customer-facing role, for example:, you may want to wear something that is a bit more formal than if you were interviewing for a behind-the-scenes role. If you are interviewing for a job in the creative industry, you may be able to dress more creatively, whereas if you are interviewing for a job in finance, you will likely want to dress more conservatively.
Beyond the outfit, ensure your appearance is neat and clean. Your overall appearance will show that you are paying attention to details and that you are able to represent the company in a professional manner.
In conclusion before the interview
You are now ready to go! We recommend writing some key points on your phone or on a sheet that will gather:
- Key responsibilities of the job
- Your key skills and experience linked to the job and motivations for the role
- The company's main information and core values
- Key pointers to items to general questions