Personal Branding

Tips to Prepare for Your Big Interview

Congratulations! You have passed the initial stages of the recruitment process and now you’re going for a face to face, HR/recruiter or cultural fit interview.

You might have heard horror stories of crazy questions interviewers ask, like “How do you weigh an elephant without using a scale?” (IBM), or “How many balloons would fit in this room?” (PwC)

Don’t get too scared. It turns out that there is no correlation between interviewee’s ability to solve brainteasers and success in his or her career.

I’ll let you in on an insider secret: companies like Google, Apple, IBM, and many others have stopped using brainteasers in their interviews. They have reverted to behavioral interviews. This is great news for you since they’re easier to prepare for. Here are some questions you are likely to get on a behavioral interview. And some advice on how to prepare to them.

1. Tell Me About Yourself

This is your time to make the first impression. Don’t recite your resume word to word. My suggestion would be doing something different – starting with why. Why are you in sales/marketing/software engineering? Why do you love what you do? What makes you get out of bed every morning? I suggest starting speaking about your purpose and slowly sliding to how the company/job you’re applying for can help you accomplish your purpose.

Then you can speak about your experience, but make your whole story concise (up to 5-7 min). And make sure you include quantitative metrics (your achievements in numbers).

2. General Behavioral Questions

Tell me about a time you had success. How did you achieve it?

Tell me about a time you failed. How did you overcome it?

If I were to speak to your team members, what would they say about you?

Tell me about a time when you exhibited leadership

Give me an example of a time when you had to work as a team

What is your usual strategy/behavior when you have to work with difficult people?

If you can answer all of those questions confidently, then you’re able to handle 9 out of 10 interviews. To answer this type of question, you can use a STAR model response. In this way, you will give a structured answer and won’t miss any important details. Let’s view the STAR model of an example of this question: “Tell me about a time you had success. How did you achieve it?”. STAR stands for:

· Situation – what was the contest of the experience you want to talk about? For example, we had to launch a new product in 2 months and we had two teams working on it, I was a Product Lead.

· Task – what were your responsibilities in this scenario. For example, I needed to assess competition and oversee the building of the product by the technical team. Then create a marketing plan for the product launch.

· Activity – what you actually did. For example, I did detailed market research on where the competition prices this product at, how do they sell and promote it. I had daily meetings with technical and marketing teams

· Result – what were the results of your work. For example, the product launched was 12% ahead of our closest competitor, and this product is still very strong in the market.

3. Questions Specific to Your Experience

These questions will be specific to your experience, but some examples are:

How long have you been leading teams, what was the size of the team?

How long have you worked with that specific technology?

What products did you develop?

How does your usual day look?

Why did you leave your position at … company and move to … company?

In order to prepare answers to questions that are specific to your experience, look at your resume. Imagine yourself as a recruiter and think what questions you would ask a candidate with this particular resume. Again use a STAR model to créate answers.

4. Job-Specific Questions

Study the job description (JD) well and prepare examples that are both specific and quantitative from your work experience to each bullet point in the JD.

See if the JD has any requirements you don’t fit (particular certifications, international experience, etc.) and prepare to what to say if you get asked about it.

5. Why Do You Want to Leave Your Current Position and Join …?

Here they are exploring your motivation. And it is your time to show how well you know the company and how well you know the role you’re applying for.

To answer that question, study recent news about the company – achievements, awards, acquisitions and the like. For the interviewer, seeing that you’ve put a lot of time in the research of the company will speak of high motivation. Also, study the values and mission of the company, you can then align your own purpose and the company’s mission.

When speaking about why you want to leave your current role, be honest about if there’s something you’re really not happy about. It’s also acceptable to say that there’s nothing wrong with your current job, but you’re applying to … company to fulfill your purpose/childhood dream.

6. What Questions Do You Have for Us?

This is a very important part of the interview. Showing that you’ve invested time and thought about questions to ask, will also speak about high motivation. Some good examples of general questions are:

What is your favorite part about working at … (company)?

What do you think I can do if I get hired to exceed any expectations?

What is a 1-year plan/strategy for this role?

What are the career development perspectives?

What are the KPIs for this role?

Some Final Tips to Prepare

And last but not least, some other tips that can help you prepare:

· Do a practice/mock interview with a friend or family member

· Know your interviewers – check their LinkedIn page, tab “see the latest activity”. There you’ll see what they liked or shared, and maybe you’ll find common topics to talk about

· Follow up after the interview – at the end of an interview ask for interviewer’s e-mail or business card to send them a follow-up note. You can send an e-mail with a thank you note anytime between the day after the interview and up to one week after the interview. Anything later than that will be too late.

There it is. A step-by-step guide of how to prepare and what to expect on an HR/recruiter interview. Hope it helps you with your next one!


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