What did you do to prepare for this interview?

As a continuation of last week’s posts on 360 Degree Review Improvements Question for Job Interviews and The ‘Why’ Around Job Changes in Interviews, there’s another interview question I really like: what did you do to prepare for this interview? Much like Louis Pasteur’s quote that “Fortune favors the prepared mind”, the goal is to better understand how the candidate thinks and acts. Here are a few questions to think through when asking candidates about their preparation:

  • How detailed and thoughtful is the candidate’s response?
  • How comprehensive was the interviewee’s preparation? How does it compare to other candidates?
  • How does the amount and type of preparation work compare to what’s necessary to be successful in the desired job?
  • What did they do that was new or different compared to other responses heard in the past?

Just like a written assessment in the hiring process helps companies understand a candidate, so too does drilling into how a candidate prepared for an interview. Too often, candidates don’t prepare well enough for interviews and should do a better job. What else? What are some other thoughts on asking about meeting preparation as part of an interview?

5 thoughts on “What did you do to prepare for this interview?

  1. David – YES!! This is my #1 disappointment in interviews – candidates who fail to prepare. At a minimum, I expect someone to:
    1 – have researched me on LinkedIN (and when someone asks me how long I have been with the company – bit tip-off that no prep has not been done…)
    2- comes with some challenging questions for me about the business, me, etc. An interview goes both ways and the ability to ask thoughtful questions in the interview tells me much as to how someone will approach a new job.
    thank you
    Mary .

  2. Are we expecting thought-provoking responses to this question regarding meeting preparation for an interview? What will be done with the responses? Will the response tell me if the prospective candidate has desired experience, or the ability to quickly gain the skills needed? Will the answer provided alert the interviewer to the need to provide skills training or mentorship as a growth opportunity? How will the response help differentiate between candidates? It’s easy to prepare for a limited time slot for a meeting , such as an interview. More important is the ability to get along with colleagues, adapt to changing environment(s), the willingness to be a team player while providing outstanding customer service – no matter if the customer is internal or external.

  3. David — this is so important but 5 out of every 6 sales people I interview DON’T really prepare. It’s an immediate disqualifier. If they aren’t prepping for meeting my company, they won’t prep for meeting any prospective companies! It’s always a real disappointment. I’m also amazed how many people don’t research the people they are interviewing with during their visit.

  4. Great reminders. I am in the middle of interviewing for a job and will double down on my company research before my next interview. I have done a lot of research but, I know you can never to too much! Well, I don’t know. Is doing a cursory Google/Facebook/Twitter/etc search on an interviewer too far?

  5. This is interesting, David. Law student candidates for law firms often have screening interviews with multiple law firms on a single day – sometimes up to 10 or 15 back to back. Back in my days as a student, I was asked “How many other firms are you interviewing with today? Did you even look at them? Why are we different than any of the other firms?” At the time, I thought that the question was really hostile, but at heart it is the same question that you are asking. I think your question is a bit more subtle (and polite). I will tag it for future use.

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