The Interview

What You Need to Know Before the Interview

Thoroughly preparing for an interview can help alleviate pre-interview jitters. Study relevant material as if you are taking an exam, and you will feel and act more confident

  • Know Yourself
    • Your education, your hobbies, and your paid and unpaid experiences have given you a wide range of skills
    • Practice articulating the skills you have, how you developed them, and how you applied them to the work setting
    • Prepare to demonstrate, using examples, what kinds of problems you have solved in the past
  • The Position
    • 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?
    • Do they have competition? Who are their major competitors?
    • Who are their clients?
    • How would this organization define success?
    • What are the organization's values?

Common Types of Interviews

  • Behavioural Interviews
  • One-on-One Interviews
  • Panel Interviews (more than one interviewer)
  • Case Interviews (common for consulting positions)
  • Telephone/Skype Interviews

In order to be prepared, it is important to ask what format your interview will be and who will be conducting it (how many, names, titles) so you can prepare.

A Few Days Before Your Interview

  • Confirm the interview logistics (date/time/location/ transportation
  • Get your wardrobe ready (do your clothes need to be washed, ironed, dry-cleaned? do you need to shine/polish your shoes?)
  • Review your interviewer’s LinkedIn profile
  • Practice how you will answer common questions
  • Review your resume and LinkedIn profile

Interview Day

  • Give yourself extra time for travel in case of traffic or TTC issues
  • If you arrive 20+ minutes early, go to the washroom and check your appearance
  • Do something that helps you focus, like listening to music or taking a walk
  • Turn off your phone before checking in
  • Present yourself 10 minutes early

Types of Questions

Sample Questions

Tips

Open Ended
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your strengths?
  • Walk me through your resume.

Behavioural

  • Describe a time when you faced a stressful situation that demonstrated your coping skills.
  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment in solving a problem.
  • Describe a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.

Situational

  • What would you do if a colleague told you that a customer complained about your work?
  • How would you handle a situation where you are working on a group project and someone wasn’t meeting deadlines.

Case

  • How many golf balls would fit in this room?
  • How many Air Canada Aeroplan miles are outstanding?

Interviewee's (Your) Questions

  • Your website mentioned a new partnership with _____. How does this affect your department?
  • What are the priorities of the department over the next 6 months?

 

Summarize your key points when you start. Keep the answer relevant to the position for which you are being interviewed.

The employer is looking for examples of previous behaviour that demonstrated key skills. Take time to plan before you respond and tell your story like this:

  • Situation or background
  • Task or role you held
  • Action you took
  • Result of your action

The employer is interested in your thought process. Take the time to think about the question and then discuss your thought process (e.g. “the factors that I would consider are ... ”). You can also ask the interviewer for more information (e.g. “do I know the nature of the complaint?” )

Case questions are often used to assess logical thought process, business knowledge, general knowledge, comfort with quantitative analysis, creativity, and communication skills. Walk the employer through any assumptions and calculations.

The interviewer will always give you a chance to ask some of your own questions. Ask thoughtful, questions that engage the interviewer in discussion and reflect the depth of your company research. (See our tip sheet on Company Research)

For more information and assistance, attend the Interview Techniques to Land that Job workshop or book a one-one mock interview session with a Career Counsellor or Career Strategist.

Last update: September 2014