When preparing for your interview, take the time to thoroughly prepare — study the material as if you were taking an exam. Knowing the material can really help to alleviate pre-interview jitters!
Company and Industry Research
Conducting company and industry research before your interview will help you respond to questions with greater depth and knowledge. These company and industry insights that you express will help you stand out from the competition! Through your research, aim to understand:
- The organization’s mission, values, and goals, as well as who their clients/customers are
- The current potential challenges that the organization faces
- The industry and labour market trends that may be impacting them
To conduct company research, thoroughly review the company’s website, and conduct an online search to find news articles about them. To determine what industry the company is in – and in addition what trends are currently impacting it – use the Industry Canada website. A university or public library reference librarian can also help you locate good sources of information on a particular company or industry.
- How does your experience, skills, personality and goals match the job your applying to
- Prepare to demonstrate, using examples, what kinds of problems you have solved in the past
- If you need help with this please see our page on Getting to Know Yourself
- What are the core skills, qualities, and attributes needed?
- Bring examples of where you demonstrated these qualifications
The Organization and Interviewer
- What is the nature of the organization's business? What have they done? Where are they heading?
- What are the organization's values?
Types of Interviews
To be prepared and help alleviate anxiety, ask what format your interview will be and who will be conducting it (number of interviewers, names, and titles). The most common types of interviews are:
- panel interviews (more than one interviewer)
- one-on-one interviews
- telephone interviews (often used for pre-screening)
- case interviews (commonly used in fields like consulting and investment banking)
Many employers are moving to Online/Virtual Interviews. To prepare consider the following:
- Camera Placement-Have your camera at eye level, you may need to put your laptop on a box or use books
- Proper lighting-make sure you face it nicely lit, no strange shadows
- Professional Background-Make sure there is nothing distracting behind you, clean-up your room
- Good internet connection-Direct wired connection is best, if not possible, make sure your signal is strong
- Good Body Language-Remember to always be smiling and have good eye contact, try to look at your camera and not the screen.
- Dress professionally-This means all of you, even the parts that can’t been "seen" on the camera, it will make you feel more confident and ready for the interview
Pre-Interview Aptitude Testing
As part of the application process the employer may have you conduct some online aptitude testing. These tests are primarily used as a pre-screening tool and are often scored automatically
They are designed to look at the candidate from multiple perspectives. These tests are known as “non-biased interviewing” and may be designed to be “unpreparable”
The tests usually cover 4 areas:
- Logical Reasoning
- Personality/Team-Company fit
- Pre-Recorded Online Interview
Except for the Personality component, these tests are typically timed both in completion of each question and in completion of each test.
Pre-Recorded Website Interviews
- There may be “automatic” screening interviews done over a webcam on the company website
- They are usually timed, e.g. 30 seconds to prepare, 2 minutes to answer
- Questions are usually introduction style questions designed to get to know you and your motivation more
Types of Interview Questions
In most interviews, regardless of the format, there is a common underlying structure:
The Icebreaker and Introduction
Good interviewers want you to be comfortable and relaxed. To establish this sort of atmosphere, they will use rapport-building statements such as "I notice you’re a squash player. So am I". They might also ask small-talk questions such as "Did you have any trouble finding our offices?"
Questions about you
You will be asked general questions about your skills and experiences:
- What are your major strengths and weaknesses?
- Why did you choose your program of study?
- How do your skills and experience align with the requirements of this position?
- Why are you interested in this position?
Questions about your relevant skills
You will also encounter questions that ask you to specifically relate your skills to the various duties and responsibilities of the position:
- How long would it take you to edit a 2000 word article?
- How would you analyze current economic and market conditions in Japan?
Interviewers want to determine how you will react in situations based on your past performance. Prepare your answers by choosing at least two relevant examples of your skills and accomplishments — preferably work-related. Use the S.T.A.R. method to help organize your thoughts: describe the Situation, the Task (or problem), your Action (what you said or did), and the Results (what was accomplished).
- Describe a time when you faced a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
- Give me an example of a time when you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
- Describe a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
- Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer or co-worker.
Questions You Should Ask
The interviewer will likely give you a chance to ask some of your own questions. This is your chance to ask thoughtful and intelligent questions that involve the interviewer(s) in discussion and reflect how in-depth your company research has been. Be concise and brief with 2-5 questions, keeping in mind timing and if the interview has already run long. This also gives you a final opportunity to articulate why you are the best person for the position. Potential questions could include:
- Could you describe a typical day on the job?
- How does the organization handle recognition for a job well done?
- What do you enjoy most about working with this company?
Companies will often ask for references. It is a good idea to have them ready before your interview.
Tips for Doing Your Best
- Stay calm! To compose yourself, arrive 10 to 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time. Take a few deep breaths to release your nervous energy and to relax. This will greatly improve your performance and help make a positive first impression.
- During the interview, you will be judged by your presentation skills and how effectively you communicate. Make frequent eye contact, smile, and don’t fidget. Be sure to dress professionally, turn your cell phone off and avoid distracting behaviour (e.g., chewing gum, clicking or tapping your pen).
- Before you answer each question, take a moment to think about what skills the interviewer is really looking for. Ask for clarification if you are unsure about a question. Be concise and be sure to answer the question asked.
- Canadian employers are limited to the types of questions they can ask. For example, questions about marital status or country of origin are illegal in Canada.
- Follow up after the interview and send a thank you note/email. This is also an opportunity for you to clarify or add to anything you said in the interview and to restate your interest in the position.
Resources to Help you Practice
Book an appointment with one of our career advising staff to either get more interview tips or to conduct a mock interview
Practice by recording yourself online with Big Interview. Big Interview is an online interview service that is available to you that allows you to try out different types of interview questions by industry or difficulty and then save it for further review.