If you are going to have a job interview, it means you`ve master how to create a professional CV, congrats!
Weather you are applying to a big company as Google, Facebook, McKinsey, Bain, or Morgan Stanley just to mention a few examples or you are applying to a medium or small size company, there are several recommendations that will help you succeed in their interview stage.
Basically you need to master three major points to succeed which are: preparation, relaxation and follow the general guidelines.
You need to invest some time doing some research about the company you are applying and practice for the interview.
a. Glassdor research
Now a day, Glassdor is the number one source to get a good insight of companies. In this website you’ll be able to find everything you need to know about a great variety of companies with specific information of each of their offices around the world. It’s made with the contributions of current and former employees or applicants who experienced the recruiting process. Most probably you are going to find a lot of information on big companies and less information (or non) on small ones. You’ll be able to find the following aspects and you’ll be able to filter the results by location (Country and city) and job position:
- Open job positions: current job offer from different companies
- Company Reviews: the experience of current and former employees
- Salaries: a range of salaries according to each job position
- Interviews: explanation of the recruiting process by successful and unsuccessful applicants
*If you want to have access to all the reviews you’ll be required to contribute writing about any of the previous aspects mentioned; you can write about any company you have worked with or with whom you have experienced the recruiting process (even if it was unsuccessful).
b. Research the company’s main stats
- Company’s website: log into the company’s website and learn about it. If the company is public download its Annual Report and find out at least the following:
- Year of foundation and current CEO
- Historical sales and profits
- Stock price
- Revenue streams
- Main competitors
- Main clients
- Google the company: there should exist a lot of information so you should at least find a brief summary of the company in Wikipedia and read the latest news.
Most probably you are not going to be asked which were last year company sales or which is the name of the CEO, but you should know this information first because you want to work for this company and second because if there’s a chance in which you can mention any of these details you’ll prove that you have done your homework and you are going to stand above all the other applicants.
c. Read industry preparation books
There is usually a go-to book for each industry that will help you prepare with specific interview questions that most likely will be asked. For example, when I was applying to enter Management Consulting, I read the book Case in Point by Marc Cosentino.
d. Develop a problem solving framework
There are mainly two kinds of questions that you will be asked:
- Behavioral questions: you’ll be asked to explain how you managed to achieve something in a past job (e.g. “Tell me about the time when you did…”)
- Case questions: you’ll be asked to explain how would you solve a problem in a hypothetical situation (e.g. “How would you calculate the sell price of a ticket for a space trip to Mars”)
No matter which question is, the answer could be better explain if you follow a structure:
- Repeat or state which is/was the main problem
- Structure the solution (if there are calculations needed round the numbers and briefly explain which calculations you are using)
- Summarize the case at the end
e. Practice, practice and practice
This is something you cannot do alone, it’s possible that you read a lot of material that will help you prepare for the interview but you NEED to practice with a friend or a family member or anyone that is willing to help you. When you practice with someone you’ll find out your weaknesses and strengths and the other person will be able to give you feedback. Just ask someone to act as a recruiter and interview you and at the end of the exercise ask if she/he would hire you and why.
One major aspect that the person who will interview you will consider is your personality and behavior so you have to look confident and relaxed. Even if you have done your research and practiced for the interview, if you are nervous you won’t be able to transmit confidence and more over you won’t be able to focus a 100% in the interview and excel on it. Therefore, these are some recommendations that will help you acquire peace of mind before the interview:
a. Apply to several companies at the same time
It doesn’t matter if they are in the same industry or in other, or if they are big or small companies or you prefer one over another, in fact it’s better if you apply for other small companies in which you are not very interested in entering. For example, you can apply at the same time to two companies you really want to enter, two which are curious about and two which you are not really interested.
Each company will have it’s own recruiting process and you are going to learn from all of it, so this will let you practice and will let you have peace of mind because if you don’t get hired in your number one option, you’ll still have your number two option and in some cases you may even get to know a company better and prefer the culture of a company which you weren’t really interested at the beginning.
b. Have an alternative option
An alternative option could be other thing you are considering to do instead of working in a company. It will depend on the stage of your life you are because right now you may be a college student looking for an internship of a recent graduate looking for a full time job or an experienced professional looking for career development. Therefore, these are different ideas you can consider:
- Do a volunteer project: in the post How to find paid volunteer projects abroad you can see some recommendations on how to do this.
- Study a short course: in the post How to find scholarship to study abroad you can see some recommendations on how to do this.
- Study a Master’s or PHD course: there are master courses that go from 1 year to two years and there are scholarships that cover almost all your expenses, in the post How to win the Ernst Mach Grant for a semester or year abroad in Austria, you can find an example.
- Travel: remember that we only live once and enjoying life is very important for our happiness and to acquire enriching experiences so you may consider traveling in your own country or abroad. In the post A fulfilling resolution: visiting the UNESCO World Heritage sites you can find more about traveling with a purpose.
- Become a freelancer: now a day there are several platforms that allow you to work from home and get paid by project or hour. There are for example freelance.com, fiverr.com and knowmoreplatfrom.com.
- Start your own business: this is probably the most difficult option but you can start developing your business idea.
*Also keep in mind that you can keep on interviewing and sending your CV to other companies while you do all these options. In that way your resume won’t have huge time gaps and you’ll have more points to add.
c. Create an interview diary
After you finish each interview write down all your thoughts, this will give you more preparation for your next interviews:
- What made you succeed
- What made you fail
- What you should research to be prepared to answer the next time
3. Follow the general guidelines
a. Arrive 15 minutes earlier (no more)
- Location: double check in google maps the location of the company and which way of transportation you are going to take. If you are going on a pick hour check how much more minutes you’re going to spend stuck in traffic.
- Parking (if needed): if you’re driving ask if you are allowed to use the company’s parking place and if not consider all the difficulties you may encounter and extra time to find parking.
- General appearance: take some minutes to go to the restroom and check your general appearance.
- Arriving earlier: if you arrive earlier than 15 minutes stay some time in your car practicing your questions or go to a coffee shop to relax.
b. Ask questions: ask questions that show your interest in working for the company and that you have done your research. For example, some of these questions could be:
- Which is the career path for my job position?
- Can you briefly describe a normal day for a person in this job position?
- What do you like the most about working on the company?
- I’ve heard that the company promotes X, Y and Z, is that true?
c. Body language: as Albert Mehrabian explains in his book Silent Messages, 7% of your credibility comes from the actual words you are speaking. 55% comes from just body language, and the remaining 38% comes from your tone of voice.
d. Sell yourself: in the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini, the author explains that one of the principles of persuasion is Authority. People respect authority, they want to follow the lead of real experts. Business titles and even impressive clothing are proven factors in lending credibility to any individual. So you always have to look confident and prove expertise in each question you are asked. This doesn’t mean that you are going to lie about your experience but this means you won’t highlight your areas of opportunity but highlight your abilities if they somehow prove your expertise about a subject, even if it´s not directly related.
In summary, prepare, relax and follow the general guidelines and you’ll succeed in your next job interview.