Preparing for interviews – not just a 15 minute search while on the subway …

Posted on August 21, 2017

By Kate LeSaffre and Debbie Trieu

Interviews are not only a way for companies to evaluate whether you are qualified for a specific role, but also an opportunity for you, the candidate, to assess the company for yourself. That's why it is extremely crucial to come prepared to each interview with a few questions to ask the employer. Aside from demonstrating your interest in the role, it will spark great conversation that will allow you to better understand your own fit for the role. Interviews, after all, are a two way street!

 

Make sure you are doing your homework prior to your interview. When working with a recruiter, he/she should be able to give you some background on the people you will be meeting with. Use this information as a starting point for your research. LinkedIn, Google, Twitter, GitHub, and StackOverflow are all great sources to use.  The point of research is not to recite what you know about the company (i.e. that they were founded in 1970 with offices in London and Tokyo) or interviewer’s job history, but to just be prepared and be able to find that common ground with the person you are speaking with.

 

For example, a few years ago I was working with a candidate on a Business Analyst role at a multi-strategy hedge fund located in NYC.  During his preparation for the interview, the candidate watched live videos of the owner of the fund speaking at various events. His goal was to understand the owner's values and how he ran his company. He did not spend 45 minutes the night before the interview performing a perfunctory search on Google. Preparation started a few days before the interview and consisted of varied research tactics. Interestingly enough, while waiting to speak with the hiring manager, he noticed the owner walking down the hallway.  He went over, introduced himself, and was able to connect with the fund’s owner right from the get go! What a great way to leave a first impression!

 Now on to the actual questions.

Questions should be tailored towards the person that you will be speaking to-- based on their seniority level, position, and skill set. There is not one specific list of questions that are for everyone. (This is where research comes in handy!) 

 

Here are some examples of questions that are relevant when interviewing with the Hiring Manager:

- What was the impetus for you to join (fill in firm here)?

- How do you measure success on your team? What do you see as success in the first 6 months? First year?

- What are your current pain points? How do you think my skill set specifically can be of use?

- What qualities do you think are indicators of an individual’s future success?

- From the time you joined the firm until today, how has the vision of the team changed?

 

 Here are some examples of questions that are relevant when speaking with team members.

-Can you describe the daily responsibilities for this role?

-What are some qualities that you think are critical for candidates to be successful?

-Can you describe how you've grown both as an individual and professional during your tenure here?

- Besides a direct manager, is there a mentoring system in place?

 

Notice that above questions are all open ended questions. You want to stray away from posing questions that could be answered by a simple yes or no. Asking broad questions are key to sparking a great conversation, and an excellent way to leave your mark on the team!