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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

February 16, 2021

This is one of the most crucial aspects in business, the matching of the ideal candidate to a role or job function within an organization.  It may be argued that it is the single most important function that a company and in particular a hiring manager can make. Getting the best talent in the market for the business in a particular function is what distinguishes how the business will perform in the marketplace and rise above the competition.

To understand how to prepare for an interview, the interviewee (candidate) must understand what the process is and what is going through the mind of the interviewer (human resources professional and/or the hiring manager), to prepare adequately.

The interviewer is most likely using a method called targeted selection (a predetermined set of questions) used to evaluate all the candidates against and which they can make an objective evaluation. This is then used to score the pool of candidates selected and to pick the best person from these for the job.

Also, this is to avoid an overly biased and subjective approach which will lead to the interviewer liking the individual but failing the organisation in hiring for competency in a particular role.

Categories that the hiring manager will cover typically are:

1.Conflict Resolution
2. Problem Solving Interview Questions
3. Teamwork Interview Questions and Answers
4. Motivational Interviewing Questions
5. Situational Interview Questions
6. Customer Service Skills Interview Questions
7. Communication Skills
8. Decision Making
9. Strategic Thinking Interview Questions.

How to ace these questions without overthinking the categories above can be achieved by remembering the following tip.

You need to relate the following sequentially:

1) Describe the situation, scenario.

Describe a time when you had to deal with a difficult decision which went against what the organisation/ boss wanted but what you believed in. Answer:  The choice to diversify the product range or rationalise it is something I believed in and I did the analysis and presented it to my superior…

2) What was your Role in the situation?

What the interviewer is looking for is misrepresentation on participation in problem solving or performance on whether you were involved solely in driving the action or whether you were part of a team. Obviously, the principle of having integrity/honesty in reflecting your participation or solving a problem is also being evaluated here.  The words “we, they, us” are indicators that you might not have individually contributed to solving the problem, but that you were part of a bigger team in this example. -The hiring manager will ask: Thank you for that response, but what was your role in that situation/how did you contribute specifically.

3) What was the outcome of the situation or example that you gave above?

To close the subject, you need to provide the interviewer with tangible evidence of success or in some cases failure of your suggestion. -This demonstrates closure, and the interview can then progress to the next category. 

Clearly you need to prepare a toolkit of answers based on your experience in life or in the case of an internship what initial competencies gained through your course content and personal activities like sports participation, club involvement, community service makes you ideal for the role or target company.

Researching the company that you are interviewing for seems obvious; however, many candidates fail to do the most basic internet/desktop research on who the company is, check out the interviewers Linkedin profile etc is par for the course. If you want to raise the bar, then checking the company’s products out online and in-store – yes actually going into a retail outlet to see how products are placed and the length and breadth of stock vs the competition – take some pics with your smartphone, is it visible to the consumer.  You can provide basic insights into their in-store presence which will certainly impress the most ardent interviewer.

Furthermore, perception is reality, so as much as the interviewer is attempting to avoid being subjective, they are only human. Dress for success, even if the interview is being conducted telephonically, via Zoom or Teams as has become practice.  Rather be overdressed than underdressed as you only have ONE attempt at a first impression. Arrive early and if you are being interviewed via zoom then ensure that your connection is secure, lighting is adequate, your background is appropriate, and that you use something (a textbook) to raise the level of your computer and the camera to ensure that your image is being projected at head height.

In conclusion, as a college student it is important to use the resources that are available to prepare for job interviews. In the college of business at ISU, students can contact John Ney, director of professional development, who can guide students towards giving the right impression to perform a successful interview. Additionally, students have access to use resources around campus such as the ISU career centre located on the third floor in Rendezvous. Students have the opportunity to set up a mock interview to help improve their communication skills in answering specific questions and stimulate a real interview experience that can benefit students by gaining exposure to commonly asked interview questions.



            Targeted selection interview questions and answers. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2021, from