Interview Guide: Preparing for interviews

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

 

There are two things you need to be thinking about at this point. Preparing information about the opportunity and preparing information about yourself.

Preparing information on the company

It is difficult to know what you should prepare for an interview and what’s the point of doing all this preparation? Where should you look and what information should you be looking for? Should you:

–        Read the website?

–        Check out all the case studies you can find?

–        Check the latest news articles?

–        Speak to people who currently work there?

–        Download accounts for the last 5 years?

When preparing information about the opportunity you should be thinking about what questions you have about it… what do you actually care about?

The fact is that you may actually get a job at this company…  If you do get the job it will have a profound effect on the rest of your career. Hopefully you will be stay with them for at least a few years, you may even stay for the rest of your career. This job will occupy most of your time, your coworkers may become close friends. When you start to think about the opportunity in this way the preparation becomes far more focused around “what do you actually want to know” instead of “what could you tell them to show you’ve prepared”.

The strategy to adopt is to start developing a genuine interest in your career. Tell yourself “I want to get the right job for me” rather than “I just want to get a new job”. What do you really want to know to find out if this is the right job for you. Here are some good starting points:

–          What will I be doing Monday to Friday? What is a typical day?

–          What is the company really like to work for?

–          What is the industry like? Who are their competitors and what makes this company better than them?

–          What is progression like in the company – What will you be doing in 3 months, 6 months, 2 years or 5 years? What have previous hires gone on to do?

–          What is the team like? Is it a big team? Are they young/old? Social? Will you fit in?

These questions serve as the basis for your preparation. A lot of the answers to your questions you will find on the internet from reading their website, industry news, google, blogs from other employees that have worked at the company etc. but you should be left with a long list of questions that you can ask at the interview.

Once you have answered all the questions using what research you can do, you can use the interview to find out the rest. Interviews are a two-way exercise and it is important to treat them as such. They will be a lot easier as they become more of a fact-finding meeting.

Prepare information on yourself

You should definitely prepare information on yourself, not just on the company. This should not be a list of examples that you can recite word for word. It should simply be information that can be drawn on if necessary. At the very least you should compose a few bullet points to advertise yourself on each of the following: Your technical skills and abilities, your greatest achievement, a summary of your career to date & your career goals and your personal skills.

Top 2% tip: Have you ever left an interview and felt that you could have done a lot better? Preparation is key to any presentation. The best way to approach preparation on yourself is to go through your CV, looking at your projects one at a time and doing a brief retrospective on each one.

–        What went well

–        What didn’t go well

–        What could you have done better

–        What technical skills did you learn

–        What soft skills did you learn

–        Which of your skills were you able to demonstrate

If you do this for each project and read it through before the interview it will ensure that you can perfectly articulate the project with a deep level of detail. It is something that you can save as an appendix to your CV for future reference too.

How to beat nerves

Most candidates are nervous about interviews. There are very few candidates that have no nerves about attending an interview but it is important that you control this and you do not let nerves get the better of you. There is a trick to controlling nerves for the future. It is in the way that you think about an interview.

The wrong way to look at an interview is to think of it as a presentation, in which you have to meet a stranger and convince them that you are the right person for the job.

The right way to look at an interview is a chance to meet with someone to find out more about the opportunity. Do not think about trying to impress the interviewer with answers to their questions, just answer their questions honestly and sincerely. This way, if you are the right person for the job, then you will get the job. If your answers weren’t correct then it is likely that you are not the right person for the job and would not have been happy in it.

From your preparation you should have a series of questions that you are honestly interested to find the answers to. Your objective for the interview should be trying to find answers your questions on the role and the company. Once you shift your focus to trying to find answers to your questions, your nerves will become much easier to manage.

@RecWorks

This post is part of a complete guide on writing CVs, dealing with recruiters and attending interviews. The complete guide can be found here: https://developercareers.wordpress.com/contents/

Originally titled ‘the top 2%’ the copy has been researched, compiled and edited continually over the last five years by the team at RecWorks Ltd. An IT recruitment consultancy aimed at spotting and developing technical talent with a focus in Java and Graduate developers.

2 thoughts on “Interview Guide: Preparing for interviews

  1. […] To communicate effectively, you should also prepare on yourself. Have a look through this developer careers post on preparing for interviews for more help in this area – https://developercareers.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/interview-guide-preparing-for-interviews/ […]

  2. […] To communicate effectively, you should also prepare on yourself. Have a look through this developer careers post on preparing for interviews for more help in this area – https://developercareers.wordpress.com/2011/09/25/interview-guide-preparing-for-interviews/ […]

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