The Best Job Interview Preparation Guide: Part Two (The Interview)

The best interview preparation guide - how to prepare for a job interview

Phone Screening Basics 

The purpose of a phone screen is intended to screen a candidate. Phone interviews are often conducted by a recruiter or someone that isn’t familiar with the job, they are looking to make sure that you check all the necessary checkboxes before they bring you in for an interview.

This screening process is often done to ensure that candidates who are not qualified for the position aren’t moved to the next phase of the interview. They are normally short (approximately 30 minutes), and to the point. During this call you should clearly answer each question, thank the person for calling, and trust that you are qualified for the role that you applied for. 

The three key objectives of all interviews are:

Demonstrate your knowledge – You’re capable of doing the job 

Demonstrate your interest – You want to do the job 

Demonstrate your fit – You are a fit with the team and organization

The Formal Interview

This is your time to shine. During the interview, avoid any distractions while keeping the tone of the interview conversational. It’s helpful to ask questions throughout the interview, and to be personable with the interviewer(s).

It’s important to be intentional that you don’t interrupt the interviewer, that you listen intently, and that you answer the questions in a concise way. If you notice the interviewer using industry or technical terms, then you should do the same. 

You to be memorable, and you want them to enjoy talking with you. The people interviewing you may be your colleague, and the interview is an opportunity for them to catch a glimpse at what it’s like working with you.

Prepare Your Answers

More and more companies are using behavioral-based interviewing. This approach of interview is intended to allow the interviewer to gain a deeper understanding of who you are, what your experiences are like, and if you’re a good fit for the role you’re interviewing for. 

Behavioral-based interviews involve broad questions. Be prepared to answer questions that aren’t your typical interview questions. For example, an interviewer may say, “Tell us about a time you set a goal, and you didn’t meet your goal. How did you handle that situation and what did you learn from it?”

It’s important to use the S.T.A.R. format to answer these types of questions. This method will allow you to clearly communicate your experience. S.T.A.R. stands for: specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation. 

Using the S.T.A.R. method will prevent you from missing important details, or over explaining yourself. Instead, you will have an answer to their question that is clear and concise. Your answer will tell a clear story that has a beginning (the issue or problem), a middle (how you were impacted by this problem), and an ending (the result of the situation.) 

Prepare Your Stories

Your Personal Background + Your Relevant Skills/Experiences + How it fits with the Job Role = Your Story

Use storytelling to help your interviewers remember you! Stand out against the rest of the candidates who are being interviewed by wrapping your facts about you with stories. 

Before your interview, it will be helpful to develop a deep understanding of the job requirements, and then prepare 3-5 examples of stories that you can share that relate to the job. Think about your past accomplishments and relevant work experiences, and how you can share about those in an interview. Using your experiences will allow you to tell a personal story that your interviewers will remember.  

You’ve applied to the job and gone to the efforts of landing this interview, why is that? What makes you excited about this role? Why are you a great candidate? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you frame your story and articulate perfectly curated answers to the interviewers’ questions. 

Quick tips to remember: 

Whenever possible, say “I” instead of “we.” 

It’s better to take a moment to think before answering a question than to answer right away and not have a concise answer. 

If you don’t understand a question, it’s okay to ask them to rephrase the question. You would rather ask them to rephrase it than give them an answer that doesn’t make sense. 

It doesn’t matter how confident you feel; you cannot show up to an interview over-prepared.

Prepare Your Questions

Just because you’re the one being interviewed doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to the interview prepared with some questions. Asking insightful questions can set you apart from other people interviewing, and it can ensure that you’re confident in the role you’re applying to. 

Ask questions about the specific role and responsibilities, about the hiring manager’s experience with the company, or questions about the company. Make sure that your questions aren’t ones that could be answered from the company’s website. 

Some potential questions you could ask the interviewer are:

Does your company have any advantages over your competitors in the market?

How fast is the company growing?

Do you have any reservations about my fit for the position that I might be able to address? 

Now that we have discussed my qualifications and the position, do you have any concerns about my candidacy? 

What are the three main factors you’ll use to determine if I’m the right fit? 

What are the top skills and traits you’re targeting for this position?

How often do you promote people internally?

What have people gone on to do in the company after holding this position?

What routes for career growth does [COMPANY] offer? 

How defined are the qualifications for promotion opportunities? 

Could you describe the typical client/project I’d be dealing with? 

What are the most important elements for my position?

What’s the most challenging aspect of the role?

What does a typical day in the role look like?

When someone drops the ball on a project, how does your team handle that? 

What specific efforts have been made to create an inclusive culture for underrepresented employees? 

When there is a conflict cross-functionally, how do folks resolve it? 

How does the company ensure there is a sense of community even when people are working remotely?

What’s one thing you’re hoping a new person can bring to the role?

What has been your best experience working here?

What soft skills are most important in this role?

List of Common Interview Questions

(Opening Questions)

1) Tell me about yourself.

2. Walk me through your (resume) professional background.

This is an opportunity for your perfect elevator pitch. You can include information like hometown / home country; school and major – and why you choose them; why you got interested in the field; involvements / interests; or about previous work experience.


(Company Knowledge)

1) Why do you want to work here [company]?

2) What interests you about our company?

3) What do you know of our product/service?


(Candidate’s Interest)

1) What did you apply to this position? 

2) What did you find most interesting in the job description? 

3) How would you feel about changing industries? 

4) Why do you want to leave your current position?


(Salary Expectations)

1) What are your salary expectations?


(Availability and Flexibility)

1) When can you start?

2) Are you willing to relocate?

3) Would you be comfortable with (i.e. 50%) travel?

4) Are you legally authorized to work in this country?


(Sample Role Specific Questions)

Why are you looking to change careers, and why should we take on that risk?

How do you define success?

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

What is the biggest failure you’ve been a part of?

What are 3 things you’d look for in an ideal job and why should we hire you?

How do you go about managing the performance of your team?

What’s one assumption people make about you that is dead wrong? 

How do you motivate team members? 

How do you set goals for your team? And how do you track these goals?

How do you ensure that your project is always on track?

What was the most difficult ethical decision you’ve had to make on a project?

Behavioral and Situational Interview Questions

Behavioral-based interviews involve broad questions. For example, an interviewer may say, “Tell us about a time you set a goal, and you didn’t meet your goal. How did you handle that situation and what did you learn from it?” It’s important to use the S.T.A.R. format to answer these types of questions. This method will allow you to clearly communicate your experience. S.T.A.R. stands for: specific situation, task, action, and result of the situation. Using the S.T.A.R. method will prevent you from missing important details, or over explaining yourself. Instead, you will have an answer to their question that is clear and concise.

Your answer will tell a clear story that has a beginning (the issue or problem), a middle (how you were impacted by this problem), and an ending (the result of the situation.) Here are sample questions:

Tell me about a project that went beyond your scope of work. (Work Ethic & Commitment)

Tell me about a time you experienced resistance to one of your ideas or projects. How did you handle it? (Leadership/Conflict Resolution)

How would you describe your management and communication style? Separately, what is your approach to building relationships across an organization? (Communication)

Give me an example of a time when you were able to successfully persuade someone to see things your way at work. (Communication) 

Tell me about a time when your stakeholders didn’t agree on a project. How did you proceed? (Client Facing/Customer Orientation)

Describe a time when your team or company was undergoing some change. How did that impact you, and how did you adapt? (Ability to Adapt)

Describe a time when you saw some problem and took the initiative to correct it rather than waiting for someone else to do it. (Motivation and Values)

Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied with your work. What could have been done to make it better? (Motivation and Values)

Describe a long-term project that you managed. How did you keep everything moving along in a timely manner? (Prioritizing & Time Management)

Post-Interview Questions

Asking insightful questions can set you apart from other people interviewing, and it can ensure that you’re confident in the role you’re applying to. You may want to ask questions about the specific role, about the hiring manager’s experience with the company, or questions about the company. Make sure that your questions aren’t ones that could be answered from the company’s website.

Does your company have any advantages over your competitors in the market?

How fast is the company growing?

Do you have any reservations about my fit for the position that I might be able to address? 

Now that we have discussed my qualifications and the position, do you have any concerns about my candidacy? 

What are the three main factors you’ll use to determine if I’m the right fit? 

What are the top skills and traits you’re targeting for this position?

How often do you promote people internally?

What have people gone on to do in the company after holding this position?

What routes for career growth does [COMPANY] offer? 

How defined are the qualifications for promotion opportunities? 

Could you describe the typical client/project I’d be dealing with? 

What are the most important elements for my position?

What’s the most challenging aspect of the role?

What does a typical day in the role look like?

When someone drops the ball on a project, how does your team handle that? 

What specific efforts have been made to create an inclusive culture for underrepresented employees? 

When there is a conflict cross-functionally, how do folks resolve it? 

How does the company ensure there is a sense of community even when people are working remotely?

What’s one thing you’re hoping a new person can bring to the role?

What has been your best experience working here?

What soft skills are most important in this role?

You’re well-prepared for this interview, and you should be confident that you’re capable of landing this job. Answer the questions honestly, and just be you! 

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