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Preparing for Interview Questions Ahead of Time

Before your scheduled job interview with a potential employer, it’s a good idea to spend a few minutes preparing for the conversation by taking some concrete actions that can help pave the way for success. Mental preparation and a few deep breaths are nice too, but in addition to those things, actually block out an hour or two of your schedule with a sheet of paper for notes and a phone so you can make an audio or video recording of yourself, and maybe the support of a friend who can pitch you questions and help you shape your answers. Try these moves.

Expect to be handed the floor.

Interviews vary based on the job, the industry and the needs of the employer, but almost every meaningful interview (translation: every interview for a legitimate company that you’d like to work for) will involve some version of the following: “Tell me a little bit about yourself.” Other forms of the question might sound like: “What brings you here today?” or “What can you tell me about yourself and your career so far?” Far too many candidates are caught off guard by this, and they respond with nervous surprise and unhelpful rambling. Be ready, so you can leap directly into an explanation of how you found this job, why you were searching in the first place, and how you came to arrive at this juncture of your career.

Expect to be put on the spot.

Most experienced interviewers will place you on the defensive at some point; in other words, they will ask you to explain why you believe this job is right for you. They need a new employee just as much as you need a job, so the grilling and screening process certainly works both ways, but you’ll have your moment to put them in the hot seat later. For now, you’ll need to be ready to explain what you have to offer that other candidates may not. And you’ll want to use this opportunity to highlight the credentials you’ve accumulated over the years. Get comfortable with the idea of showing off and making a point-by-point case for why you belong here.

Expect to be asked to turn the tables.

Good job interviewers will usually turn the tables as the interview passes its halfway point. Somewhere close to the middle or end of the conversation, the interviewer will likely say something like “Do you have any questions about the company, the job, or about me and my role in the hiring process?” Again, far too many candidates are unprepared for this moment, and they tend to get flustered and simply say no. But instead of taking that route, consider this an opportunity to show off your engagement and curiosity, and to gather some necessary information that can help you choose between this offer and the others you may receive. Ask if the company will provide the support and advancement that will move you toward your goals. Ask if they can accommodate whatever your needs will be (commuting needs, adaptive equipment needs, etc.). And ask for any clarification regarding the company’s practices or business model. The interviewer will enjoy your level of interest, and you’ll have an opportunity to spot red flags or selling points. For more information on how to prepare for your interview and lock down the perfect job for you, contact our job search experts at PSU.