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Interview Prep Resources

Use this guide as a resource for your job hunt. It covers basic information, such as how to prepare for different stages of the interview process. Note that the information is generalized, and you may need to modify it to your specific situation or field.

Know your Resume! 

Candidates should also be prepared to speak to anyone about everything they list on their resumes. Any tool or technology a candidate lists on their resume is fair game for a recruiter or Interviewer to discuss. If you cannot speak about your experience with a particular technology, skill, technique, industry, etc., then don’t put it on your resume. When a candidate embellishes their resume, and it becomes apparent in an interview, it destroys the candidate’s professional credibility and results in wasted time for the Interviewer and candidate. Additionally, many candidates utilize various versions of their resume. To limit the potential for misrepresenting your resume, make sure any stats, outcomes, and technologies used in the multiple versions are consistent. 

Come with Questions for the Interviewer

Coming prepared with questions for your Interview isn’t generally a technique to “test” or evaluate you, but it often leaves an impression of the candidate’s engagement and professional interests. Asking questions is also a great opportunity to acquire information on what the role requires to be successful, the expectations of the Interviewer or manager, and the characteristics of the organization, team, and manager. Asking open-ended questions can be useful to improve the conversation and gather information. All of the information you collect can be used to position yourself better in the current Interview and any future interviews. 

Candidates can create a professional and engaging dialogue when they come prepared with questions about the role, team, organization, and leadership. Think about the basic things that you are looking for in your next job. Do you want to know about company culture? What is the management style of your potential new manager? Do you want to know about growth opportunities or how the company supports professional growth? 

The Phone Screen / Initial Interview

A phone screen is generally the first step in any interview process. Typically, at this initial stage, candidates will talk to a recruiter or someone from HR to make an initial determination about whether a candidate meets the minimum qualifications for the position. Often, these calls are centered around the requirements section of the job description. This call will cover basic information and should also touch on logistics (whether the job is onsite or remote, how quickly they’re trying to fill the job, and basic compensation alignment). At the end of the phone screen, the recruiter should tell you about the next steps and the interview process. If they don’t, ask them what the interview timeline looks like and when you can expect to hear about the next steps. 

Some standard questions you should be prepared to answer in the initial Interview:

  • Why are you interested in this role?
  • Why did you leave your previous job(s)?
  • Why are you looking to leave your current job?
  • What’s your target compensation range?
  • Are you willing to relocate or be local to this job location?
  • What do you want to learn in your next job? (Professional Goals)

Second-Round Interviews

The next steps in the process will start to deviate depending on the company. In the Initial Interview, you should have gathered information on the interview process and timeline. Generally, companies will have the second round of interviews between the candidate and the hiring manager, subject matter expert, or a senior member of the team. At this stage, most companies will opt for a face-to-face interview, either virtually or in person. Candidates can expect a second-round interview to go more in-depth on their experience and how it fits in with the job. Prepping for these interviews can greatly increase a candidate’s ability to successfully showcase their alignment with the role and subsequently get hired. 

  • Think about the qualifications that you discussed with the recruiter on the initial call. Come prepared with examples of how your previous work meets those qualifications.
  • Look at the job description, especially the qualifications section. Same as above, be ready to share specific examples of how your previous work applies to those qualifications.
  • Look at similar job descriptions and professional profiles to understand job market demands for skills and information on competitors of the company you are applying for.
  • Be ready to discuss your current work in depth. Again, stressing the need to be able to speak to everything on your resume, the hiring manager will ask more pointed questions about your experience.
  • Use the STAR methods to structure your actions, your thought process, and the results of your actions. 
  • The second round of interviews is a great opportunity to ask about what challenges someone in this role will face or what gaps the company is trying to fill with this role. You will want to take this information and start thinking about how you can market your previous experience to show that you can meet those challenges or fill those gaps.
  • If you are applying for a team lead, management, or any kind of supervisory position, come prepared with examples of how you’ve led a team. Be ready to talk about how you got your team out of a struggle, how you motivated or helped improve the performance of an underperforming employee, and how you handled an inter-team conflict.

Final Interviews

The Final Interview tends to be the final step for most companies: face-to-face meetings between yourself and a number of different team members. Each company selects its interview panel in other ways, so there’s no surefire way to tell whom exactly you’ll be meeting. If the company doesn’t send you an interview itinerary, you can always ask for one that details who you’ll be meeting with and what their title is. As with the second Interview, you can expect that you’ll be going in-depth on your experience and how it aligns with the job. Often, at the final round of interviews, companies will also share more information about their culture and team organizational structure. 

  • Be prepared to answer many situation questions that are related to the job at hand. These questions will likely be related to challenges that you’ll experience in the role (which is why you should ask about those challenges in first- or second-round interviews). 
  • The most common method for answering situational questions is the STAR method. 
  • Before the Interview, identify at least one major accomplishment you made in your 3 – 4 most recent jobs. Explain why you consider it a major accomplishment, what you learned from it, and how it made a positive impact on the business. Have those ready to talk about during the final Interview.

You will probably encounter some common behavioral questions as well. Be prepared to answer things like:

  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss and how you resolved it
  • Tell me about a time you had an argument with a co-worker and how that played out
  • Tell me about a time you were asked to do something that you knew was illegal/wrong and what you did
  • Tell me about a time you were behind on a deadline and how you handled it

The Star Method

The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is important for responding to interview questions because it provides a structured approach to presenting information clearly and effectively. By detailing a specific Situation, the Task required, the Actions taken, and the Results achieved, candidates can demonstrate their problem-solving abilities, decision-making process, and impact on the organization. This method helps interviewers understand the context of the candidate’s experiences and their direct contributions, making it easier to assess the candidate’s skills and fit for the role. Additionally, it ensures that responses are focused and relevant, avoiding the risk of veering off-topic or providing incomplete answers.

  • Situation: Give background information on the challenging situation you were in.
  • Task: What did you need to achieve or fix in this scenario?
  • Action: Describe the steps you took to complete the task/solve the problem.
  • Result: How did the situation end/resolve?

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