3 Things to Help Prepare for an Interview

In this article, I will go over 3 tips to help to help you feel confident going into that interview at your dream job! These are simple things that will take you less than an hour to prepare but help you feel confident walking out of the interview, whether it is virtual or in-person.

Do Your Research

As a recruiter, the one thing that hurts a candidate’s interview the most is their lack of knowledge of the company they are interviewing for. Now you do not have to be the expert on the company, you don’t work there! You should however have done some basic research and know a few quick facts on the company. Most interviewers will ask you why are you interested in working at X company. To help prepare for this, my best advice is to go to the company’s website and pick 2-3 topics or things you read that stand out to you as your talking points. These topics can be about what the company does or it can be just an interesting fact you read. I will give you an example. If you go to the L’Oreal, on just the landing page alone you will see several different brands owned by the company. A simple example to answer the “Why L’Oreal” question could be – “When I was looking into the company I was blown away by how many brands the company owns like Redken, Pulp Riot, and even Aesop. I feel I could learn a lot from a large company with this many brands under the umbrella.” All of this information was taken right from the first half of the landing page.

If you want to really impress a company go a bit deeper. Let’s use another large company for this example – Amazon. If you go to Amazon’s About Us tab at the bottom of their website you get taken to a page with a bunch of articles and facts. One article that was just published on Jan 3rd, 2024 was titled “How Amazon is helping employees, communities, and customers following the Earthquake in Japan”. After quickly scanning this article I saw this excerpt that stood out to me “Within hours of the January 1 earthquake, the Amazon Disaster Relief team started coordinating with international and local aid groups to provide needed support and supplies. We activated the two Japanese Disaster Relief Hubs to send essential goods—including blankets, water, food, diapers, and baby formula—to the affected area” (Amazon Staff, 2024). If I were interviewing for Amazon and was asked “Why Amazon” I would use this article to say “Amazon is a large company I can learn a lot from. I was very impressed when doing my research on the company’s efforts after the recent Earthquake in Japan and how within hours of the natural disaster, relief teams were ready to go and supplied not only their employees but members of the community with essential goods like baby formula. I think this speaks volumes to the type of company Amazon is – and I want to be a part of that”.

So as you can see – it is very easy to generate these talking points but look extremely well prepared and show you did your research to stand out!

Here is the link to the Amazon article and the L’Oreal landing page just for reference:



Prepare Experience Examples

The next biggest mistake candidates make in an interview is not having examples prepared to showcase their experience. Whenever I talk to people about this they always ask “How can I prepare examples if I do not know the questions they will ask?” The answer is this – most employers are looking for the same things – are you going to be a good worker? Are you going to be coachable? are you going to get along with the team? And of course, do you have the skills needed for the job? The skills questions are easier to prepare for because you either have them or you don’t, but the softer skills are the ones you need to prepare for.

The biggest tip is – prepare stories that can answer more than one question. Here is an example from my work experience: There was a candidate to whom I presented an offer and we had discussed prior what the salary was going to be because I believe in transparency. In the call I presented him the offer – I reminded him of this conversation and told him that we were able to give him that exact offer we agreed was competitive and in range for him to accept. The next day he reached out and countered and asked for $20k more on base citing he has many years of experience and he felt that $20k more was on par with what he finds competitive. We hoped on call and I asked him why the sudden change from the previous two conversations. I had been extremely upfront and honest with our budget and the offer is exactly what I told him it was going to be. I kept my cool and handled the conversation as a professional – by the end we talked through his points and I told him I would go back to HR and see what I could do. When I spoke to HR their response was no we could not increase because the offer amount was agreed upon prior and already at the highest end of the budget as possible. So I held the line with the candidate and walked him through the reasons ultimately ending with him accepting the offer. This is a shortened version of course as I would go into more detail in an interview and be prepared for follow-up questions but it serves our purpose.

This example could answer several soft skill questions like: Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge at work. Can you share an example from your work experience where you had to keep it professional and handle a tough conversation? This example could also be used to showcase the skill of negotiation which is a top priority for people who work in Talent Acquisition.

When you are preparing your examples – come up with the questions first. Some common ones you can expect are: Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge. How did you overcome it? Share an example from your work experience that showcases your ability to work in a team. When have you had to be a leader in your current role? What are your strengths and weaknesses? Can you tell me about a time when you had a failure, how did you stay on task? As you can see – there is overlap in these questions. So prepare examples and answers that can answer multiple. Make them open-ended and examples the interviewers can ask follow-up questions on. You are then in control of the questions they ask if you share good examples.

Prepare Your Questions

This is a very common tip you will find – but I am going to help you elevate it. Often interviewers will be looking for candidates to have their own questions prepared because it shows a level of interest in the job. This is true for all interviews, even the ones with HR/Recruiters. The biggest mistake I see in recruiter interviews when I ask if someone has questions is they jump right to compensation. It is fine to ask about the pay and budget, but it should not be your first and only question. While everyone knows we work for money, if you are up against 3 other candidates for a role, all with the same experience and qualifications and you only asked about the pay and the others asked about the job, the culture, etc you won’t get the job. If you jump right to the pay questions it says “I just want to know what you can do for me. I don’t care about working for you”. Even if this is the case, do not show your cards. Usually, the recruiter will bring up the comp anyway in the first conversation to make sure it makes sense to continue. So you should focus on the other things that are “in it for you”.

I always recommend having 3-4 questions prepared that you can ask any employer. Make these questions things that are important to you. Maybe in your last job, you had no work-life balance – ask about this in all your interviews! Maybe you are looking for a place to call home for a long time because you need some stability in your life – ask about growth opportunities and how the company invests in its employees! While paying your bills are important, if you are making good money but work for a company where you have to sell your soul and firstborn child to get that $$ – is it worth it?

I also always recommend asking the person you are speaking to what they like about working at the company. When you ask this question – pay attention to how they answer. If you can see their face (virtual or in-person) pay attention to their body language. Of course, they are going to tell you what you want to hear to some degree, but their body language never lies. If they are smiling and genuine thats a great sign. Trust your gut with these types of things.

Another great one to ask is about the learning and development offered to employees. I say this because it has been proven that companies that do not have a robust learning and development plan do not stay relevant or succeed long-term. An article from the MIT Sloan Management Review titled “The Practices That Set Learning Organizations Apart” by Professors David G. Collings and John McMackin talks quite a bit about this. This paper talks about how technology is changing the way we work and how employees need to have certain skills to keep a company moving forward – this was accelerated by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Their findings from this study showed that companies with robust learning plans better rebounded from long-term and short-term pressures and even worldly events like the pandemic. So I always recommend asking about a company’s L&D for this reason – you know a bit more about what you are getting yourself into.

If you want to check out that paper here is the link to it below – it’s a great read!


Follow these tips to feel better prepared!

I hope these tips and tricks help you feel confident to go into your next interview and smash it out of the park!

Works Cited

Amazon Staff. “How Amazon Is Helping Employees, Communities, and Customers Following the Earthquake in Japan.” US About Amazon, US About Amazon, 4 Jan. 2024, www.aboutamazon.com/news/community/earthquake-japan-amazon-disaster-relief.

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