YNCN’s Student Interviewing Guide

So you’ve finally gotten your first interview — what should you be doing next? Before the panic sets in, know that interviewing is a stressful process. Many people, including experienced candidates, get flustered during interviews.

This is a quick guide to preparing for your upcoming interviews. Interviewing can be a stressful process, but you can maximize your chances of success with good preparation!

1. Research the company

  • Look into company values and mission
  • Understand the high-level business of the company
    (i.e. what is the main product, how does it make money, what is the industry)
  • Understand what type of role/candidate the company is looking for
    (i.e. what kind of skills/background, what type of work)

Good resources for researching companies:

  • Company website
    (Most companies have an ‘About’ section, detailing the company’s history and values)
  • Company’s LinkedIn profile
    (Many companies post articles here and you can take a look at what the its culture/work environment may be like)

2. Studying for Interview Questions

This portion of preparation is usually the toughest and is also the most variable. Depending on what type of job you are interviewing for, you will be asked different questions.

Generally, companies will ask behavioral and situation-based questions for all candidates. These interviews ask candidates about how they would behave in a certain situation. For example, if a conflict happened within their workplace with a coworker, how would they react? They also focus on specific traits and characteristics of the candidate, to assess whether they would be a good fit for the company.

The best way to prepare for these interviews is to know stories behind the bullet points in your resume. Often, recruiters will ask about past experiences in your resume. Generally, the STAR format is recommended for sharing your stories or experiences in response to behavioral questions.
S = Situation (context)
T = Task (what your responsibility was)
A = Action (what you did to fulfill your task)
R = Result (outcome)

See this link for examples.

You can write down common behavioral questions and your response in the STAR format on a spreadsheet for easy access or even a flashcard app like Quizlet to study. Make sure you don’t come off as rehearsed during your interview though — it should flow like telling your friend a story! Practicing with a friend or school career center will improve your interviewing skills and help calm your nerves!

Common behavioral questions and other helpful resources:

For specialized roles, companies may also have a technical portion to their interview. This is especially common for math/engineering-focused roles (e.g. tech, finance). The process of preparing for the technical interview will heavily rely on the job you are aiming for — typically your point of contact or recruiter should give you a good idea of what your interview should consist of.

Resources for technical interview preparation:

3. Prepare questions for the company/interviewer

This shows your interest in the position and your knowledge of the company. Always have a few questions ready for them! Bonus points if your questions are unique to their experience!

Common questions to ask the interviewer:

  • What are the responsibilities for this role?
  • What projects do you/does your team work on?
  • What is the day-to-day schedule for this position like at company X?
  • What are some past projects interns have completed?
  • What is your favorite part about working at company X?

4. Practice makes perfect

  • Review with friends and family or school career center.
  • Find students who have worked at the company before (in your network or on LinkedIn) and ask them about their experience.
  • Get comfortable with explaining your achievements and relating them to the job/skill set the company is seeking.

Resources for practicing:

5. Come dressed appropriately

  • For most interviews, a dress shirt should suffice! This is your safest bet.
  • For interviews in business-focused fields (consulting, finance), it is standard to wear business formal.
  • For interviews in the tech industry, it is common to wear casual clothing to the interview.

6. Calm your nerves

  • Don’t let yourself get too nervous before you have your interview — the hour before listen to a song you like or meditate.
  • Don’t over stress yourself by revising a preparation document or over practicing right before you go in.

7. The Interview

Hopefully at this point you feel prepared enough to enter the interview confident and composed. Try your best to not ramble your answers and speak in a clear, coherent voice.

The most important thing is to leave the impression that you care about the role and company. Try to make the interviewer like you/enjoy speaking with you — remember, they may be your future coworker!

8. After the Interview

Congratulations! You’ve passed the most difficult part of the process (before the actual job, of course). For some, you may actually have to undergo multiple rounds of interviews before you’re really done. However, here are some things to consider once you’re done with your interview:

  • Follow up with the recruiter or interviewer — thank your interviewer or recruiter for interviewing you. Also use this as an opportunity to summarize your best selling points. Make sure you get a good idea of when they are going to reach back out to you/should expect to hear back. This can be done on LinkedIn or email (usually you will have their email). See this link for examples.
  • Ask for feedback — if you’re curious about how you did, you try asking your recruiter for any interview feedback after receiving your results. (Note: some companies are known to not provide feedback after the interview process)
  • Reflect upon your performance and keep on improving — every interview is another opportunity to improve your skills. If you felt that you could have done better or struggled on a question, try to look back on it and see what you might do in the same situation in a future interview.

This concludes our quick interview guide. For some other useful resources, check out the YNCN website or YNCN’s profile on Medium! (link below)

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YNCN (You’re Next Career Network)

University of Toronto's largest student club dedicated to providing students with professional development opportunities & connecting companies with top talent.