Those that followed my journey part 1 and part 2, would know that I put a lot of effort into my interview preparation. As a reminder and for those that don’t know, I created three main documents - my research pack, sample questions and answers, and scenarios. All in all it probably totalled around 50 pages. I know it sounds like a lot, but the good thing about sample questions, answers and scenarios is that once I had done them I could reuse them for future interviews. These packs were crucial to my success at the interview because without them, I wouldn’t have been able to show off my knowledge of the company. Research and insight is very important as it proves to the interviewer that one, you’ve made the effort and two, that you’re genuinely interested in working for them. The significance of interview preparation is the main reason why it dominates my blog, and the reason why I decided to create this blog post to go into more detail about my ‘Interview Preparation Essentials’.
This is going to be a crucial pack for your interview preparation. This pack will essentially collate all web research that specifically relates to role and company you’ve applied to. The pack is useful for remembering all the information that your short term memory may not remember. Start by printing out useful pages from the internet and group them together accordingly. It will really help you to revise all the bits of knowledge you’ll need to know for your interview. For example, if you’re being interviewed for a sales role then make sure you have things like statistics and sales figures in your pack.
Other facets of your research pack may draw on consumer insight and general facts about the company. Plus anything else that is appropriate for the role you’re being interviewed for.
Aim for between 30-40 pages, but this can range, particularly if it’s a smaller company. To give you an idea, for my interview, I got 40 pages in total for my research pack.
Sample questions and Answers
This is another important pack to produce. The best thing about this pack is you won’t need to produce it again once it’s already done. If you go back in time to my previous blog posts you’ll find links to interview questions and example answers. Essentially, what you need to do is find a range of interview questions on the internet, e.g. standard, behavioural, killer questions – make some up if you want to. Then collate all of these into a document and start to write your answers – if and when you can, STAR answering is always a useful way to structure your answers.
Additionally, if it’s possible get someone else to look over your questions and answers, especially someone who has experience and is savvy when it comes to interviews. Their advice could mean the difference between a good or great interview.
When I started writing my sample questions and answers pack, I found that I got stuck on the behavioural questions e.g. ‘Give me an example of a time when…’ I immediately answered in my head ‘I have no idea’. However, all it takes is a little bit of thought. This is why I created the scenarios pack.
Inside the scenarios pack you’ll include specific examples that are REAL and that demonstrate something. For instance, your preparation for your dissertation demonstrates your time management ability – e.g. it’s a six month process that included creating a 6 month overview plan and then smaller detailed weekly schedules etc.
In my pack I included 5 different scenarios that all demonstrated different behaviours. If you need inspiration here, check out the job description, does it say the ideal candidate should pay attention to detail? If so, make sure one of your scenarios covers this. Re-check your application and in particular the personal attributes you stated you have e.g. ‘ I have the ability to handle difficult situations’. Again, make sure this is covered in your scenarios document.
The easiest way to create one will be to include a 2 column table in a word doc, one column named ‘Scenario’ and the other ‘Demonstrates…’
The most important thing to remember is that these packs are for YOU. Not the interviewer. It’s your job to be productive with them and to put your best work into them – great packs will give you the ability to give great answers. At the end of the day they’re great to resources for revision - just like I did at the café before my interview.
Have you created any interview packs before? If so, use the comments box below.