How To Prepare for a job interview

Candidate giving presentation at job interview

So you’ve been applying for jobs and finally an invite for a job interview lands in the mail. You are initially excited but soon after, the excitement wanes and reality sets in. The big question – ‘How do I prepare for this interview?’.

I can totally understand how you feel as I’ve been there before. After a 7-year break, I resumed job hunting while writing up my PhD thesis in 2019. I eventually got my first invitation for an interview after a number of rejections and dead ends. It was a Knowledge Transfer Partnership position which was split between a university and a biotech company. The first interview was over Skype and lasted for 15 minutes while the second one was in-person and took about 1.5 hours. Even though I did not get the job, the experience was useful practice for future interviews.

Questions To Expect During A Job Interview

I found the questions listed below very helpful when preparing for job interviews. I suggest having answers to these questions ready in a document (e.g. PowerPoint) so it is quicker to prep for the next interview. Also, you should use the STAR technique when answering questions.

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. What did you do in your PhD?
  3. Why are you interested in this position?
  4. What do you hope to gain from this position?
  5. Why do you want to work here?
  6. What skills and experience do you bring?
  7. Which difficulties do you expect to encounter in the project?
  8. Have you ever taken initiative/demonstrated leadership?
  9. Give an example of when you have experienced setback or a difficult challenge
  10. Do you have experience with working on a team?
  11. Do you have experience with project management?
  12. What is your greatest strength?
  13. What is your greatest weakness?
  14. Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
  15. Are you a big picture or detail-oriented person?
  16. How do you manage a difficult colleague?
  17. What do you expect from a supervisor?
  18. How would you describe a successful day?
  19. Do you prefer a structured routine or one with change?
  20. What would your colleagues say about you?
  21. What are your pet peeves?
  22. How do you handle stress?
  23. What is your biggest accomplishment?
  24. What motivates you?
  25. Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years? This question could also be worded as ‘ What are your short/medium/long term goals?’

Do you have Any Questions For us?

In addition, it is important that you ask the panel questions during the interview. Not only does this demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, you also get to learn more about the position and whether the company would be a good fit for you.

Questions you can ask at an interview include:

  1. How does this project fit in with other ongoing projects?
  2. What goals do you feel should be achieved within the first 6 months? (especially useful if it is a fixed-term position)
  3. What sort of training opportunities are available?
  4. How would you describe the company culture here?
  5. When can I expect to hear from you?
  6. Are there opportunities to do x, y and z?

Helpful Resources

If you have got a job interview coming up, you should definitely check these articles out:

I hope you have found this post helpful. Good luck with your job search!

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