How to prepare for an interview in advance



This Module is going to talk about preparing for interviews. It will get you prepared for the type of questions that could come and prepare you for much more.

Getting to know what the requirements for
the position are.

Studying the Job Description

You can actually pull out questions just by reading the Job Description. For example, if the Job description has “Assists in the management of the division by evaluating existing and proposed organisational policies and procedures”. You can make the question “Have you ever assisted in evaluating existing and proposed organisational policies and procedures? If so, tell us when and how you did this?”.

Here is another example “Trains and arranges training of division personnel in such subjects as coordinated computer systems, supervisory and management methods, and new office procedures.” this can be made into “Tell us about a time when you trained and arranged training in subjects such as coordinated computer systems, supervisory and management methods, and new office procedures? Have you any experience in this area?”

This is how you can prepare for that specific interviews a day or so before your actual interview. Always remember the Job Description is the basis on which your interview will take place. It was created to find the person for that job so questions will surely arise from it.

In addition, whenever you are thinking of replying to questions you need to think what would the Manager want to hear? Whenever you reply and this may be for any questions including something like “Tell us about yourself”, put yourself in the shoes of the Recruiter / Manager and what they would like to hear from the person filling this position but you must always remain genuine. If you can prepare yourself for responses from this perspective, consider the job as yours.

But what about standard questions like “Tell us your greatest achievement”? These are standard questions that most of the time come so that the interviewer can gauge if you are the right candidate for the position but most of the answers are usually linked to the Values and Culture of the Company. We will touch upon Culture and Values in this module.

But for the time being, we have added a few articles in the resource area to help you find answers to the most generic questions. We suggest that you review these before going for an interview. Having said that, please remember that Recruiters are realising that people can prepare for the standard questions and they try not to ask them. In such cases the best way to prepare for an interview is by using the method of Job descriptions as mentioned above, this is the best advice we can give.

Company Culture

Nowadays Company Culture seems to be the latest fad around the world. You will hear it on the lips of every HR person you see. The reason for this is that they believe that if an employee's culture and values are synced with that of the companies, then the employee will be the perfect fit. They believe such candidates will be outstanding performers, they will fit in well with like minded people, money would not be their motivation and they would stay with the company for a longer period of time.

So most Recruiters/Managers usually ask generic interview questions to check if the candidate is a perfect fit for company culture. So will this be a problem? Is there any way we can prepare for this?

For you to understand we would need to find the Company Culture and Values. You can do this by going online and typing “Name of Company Values” and “Name of Company Culture” in Google. In our example, we will take Shell. After conducting a search on Google we found out that Shell has three core values which are honesty, integrity and respect for people. Now the interviewers will ask questions trying to target these specific areas. Examples would be.

  1. Tell us about a time when you saw someone from your team taking a cut on a deal. How did you respond to this? (They are checking your honesty)

  2. Over the years while working, have you ever missed a deadline. How did your boss react and what did you do to build back confidence? (They are checking your integrity)

  3. Tell us about a time when you had a disagreement with a co-worker. How did you manage the situation? Tell us more about it. (They are checking your respect for others)

To prepare for such questions you will need to keep responding with the company values in mind. It can be difficult but with practice, you will learn how to respond in such a situation. In some cases, you will not find the companies values and culture on the internet. In such situations, you will need to try and find someone who can help you. Maybe someone through LinkedIn or a friend who works for the company.

Types of Questions that Interviewers can ask

1. Credential verification questions

This type of question includes "What was your ATAR?" and "How long were you at _____________?" Also known as resume verification questions. Its purpose is to objectively verify the depth of knowledge of the credentials in your background.

2. Experience verification questions

This type of question includes "What did you learn in that class?" and "What were your responsibilities in that position?" Its purpose is to subjectively evaluate features of your background.

3. Opinion questions

This type of question includes "What would you do in this situation?" and "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" Its purpose is to subjectively analyse how you would respond in a series of scenarios. The reality is that something will go off in your head and your brain typically kicks in ("I know the answer to that one!") and plays back the pre-programmed answer.

4. Behavioural questions

This type of question includes "Can you give me a specific example of how you did that?" and "What were the steps you followed to accomplish that task?" Its purpose is to objectively measure past behaviours as a predictor of future results.

5. Competency questions

This type of question includes "Can you give me a specific example of your leadership skills?" or "Explain a way in which you sought a creative solution to a problem." Its purpose is to align your past behaviours with specific competencies which are required for the position.

6. Brainteaser questions

This type of question includes "What is 1000 divided by 73?" to "How many ping pong balls could fit in a Volkswagen?" to complex algorithms. Its purpose is to evaluate not only your mental math calculation skills but also your creative ability in formulating the mathematical formula for providing an answer (or estimate, as can often be the case).

7. Case questions

This type of question includes problem-solving questions ranging from: "How many gas stations are there in Europe?" to "What is your estimate of the global online retail market for books?" Its purpose is to evaluate your problem-solving abilities and how you would analyse and work through potential case situations.

8. Dumb questions

This type of question includes "What kind of animal would you like to be?" and "What colour best describes you?" Their purpose is to get past your pre-programmed answers to find out if you are capable of an original thought. There is not necessarily a right or wrong answer since it is used primarily to test your ability to think on your feet.

What Questions should you ask your Interviewer(s)

Interviewers usually ask the candidate if they would like to ask any questions towards the end of the interview. You can ask multiple questions if you’d like. In fact, when responding it's good to say something like “Yes I have 2 questions to ask (or whatever number you have)” and then take it from there. It is always good to ask a question that links to your job and makes you look good in the interviewer's eyes. Here are ten great questions that you can ask that will help you secure your next job.

1. What skills and experiences would make an ideal candidate?

This is a great open-ended question that will have the interviewer put his or her cards on the table and state exactly what the employer is looking for. If the interviewer mentions something you didn’t cover yet, now is your chance.

2. What is the single largest problem facing your staff and would I be in a position to help you solve this

This question not only shows that you are immediately thinking about how you can help the team; it also encourages the interviewer to envision you working at the position.

3. What have you enjoyed most about
working here?

This question allows the interviewer to connect with you on a more personal level, sharing his or her feelings. The answer will also give you unique insight into how satisfied people are with their jobs there. If the interviewer is pained to come up with an answer to your question, it’s a big red flag.

4. What constitutes success at this position and this firm or non-profit?

This question shows your interest in being successful there, and the answer will show you both how to get ahead and whether it is a good fit for you.

5. Do you have any hesitations about my qualifications or experience?

This question can be a little gutsy. Also, you’ll show that you’re confident in your skills and abilities.

6. Do you promote continuing education and professional training?

This is a great positioning question, showing that you are interested in expanding your knowledge and ultimately growing with the employer.

7. Can you tell me about the team I would be working with?

Notice how the question is phrased; it assumes you will get the job. This question also tells you about the people you will interact with on a daily basis, so listen to the answer closely.

8. What can you tell me about your new products or plans for growth?

This question should be customised for your particular needs. Do your homework on the employer’s site beforehand and mention a new product or service it’s launching to demonstrate your research and interest. The answer to the question will give you a good idea of where the employer is headed.

9. Who previously held this position or is this a newly created position?

This seemingly straightforward question will tell you whether that person was promoted or fired or if he/she quit or retired. That, in turn, will provide a clue to whether: there’s a chance for advancement, employees are unhappy, the place is in turmoil or the employer has workers around your age.

10. What is the next step in the process?

This is the essential last question and one you should definitely ask. It shows that you’re interested in moving along in the process and invites the interviewer to tell you how many people are in the running for the position.