How to: prepare for an interview

Whilst you can never guess what will be asked, chances are they’ll be spread across three themes:

1.     Your career journey and CV
2.     Your skills and ability for the job
3.     Your fit for the company culture

Firstly, get your career journey straight – it needs to be clear, concise and relevant. Plan it out in your head and even practice telling a friend. Once nailed, here are a couple of questions we’d suggest thinking about.

What does innovation mean to you? Granted, if you’re not meeting with an innovation agency, change the word! I.e. branding, experiential, communications, digital, service design etc.

As a customer, what businesses do you admire and why? Also, what do you think are the major trends that will impact that industry over the next 5 or so years? This is a great question. Be creative, have reasoning, and be able to talk confidently. Going for Google or Apple is a bit of a cop out unless you have a great argument. Maybe it’s a new tech start or an app that has improved your daily life, or a business that has changed the way customers experience a service with exciting future ahead.
What are your initial impressions about company X? Why are you interested, and why in company X specifically? This is about why you like them, what excited you about their business, what one thing stood out, and finally why them versus anyone else.
How would you describe yourself in 5 words? Not as easy as it sounds, especially when you don’t want to sound like everyone else. We’d recommend looking at their company values and what they stand for – think of similarities as it’ll demonstrate your culture fit.

How would you describe what you do to a stranger in one sentence? This is a great way to show you can be clear, concise and to the point. Whilst it probably won’t feature, it’s good to think about as it helps frame who you are in a clear way.
What are you looking for in your next move in terms of role and challenge? Make sure you’re not negative about your current employer – focus on what you’ve achieved and where you’re going. Think about what motivates you (and what demotivates you), what you enjoy most about your current role, where you excel and where you want to grow, and where you want to be in 5 years time.

The old favorite, what are your strengths and weaknesses? Common, and to be honest a little obvious, but that’s exactly why you should prep for it as it will likely rear its head!
And finally, what questions do you have for them? Make sure you think about this one – 9 times out of 10 the last 15 minutes is a chance for you to ask questions. This is not a forum to discuss salary and benefits, more a chance to ask challenging questions that demonstrate you’ve done your research, plus an opportunity to ask questions that really matter to you.

I’m a Founding Partner of Bamboo Crowd. I help our clients invest better in people and scale through Engine. I solve recruitment challenges and help our clients source the best talent across operations, business development, programme management, and technology. Ask me about good films, beards and hip hop.