DGG Resume’s Ultimate Interview Guide – Interview Questions and Preparation

Posted Posted in Guides, Interviews

ultimate-interview-guide-header

This guide has been specially crafted to help you, the reader, through the entire job interview process: from prior preparation of interview questions, to the interview itself, and other post-interview tips.

 

The objective of this guide is to help you present yourself in the best way possible during interviews.

This can be best achieved by closely following this interview preparation process, step-by-step.

Are you ready to prepare for your interview? Let’s get started!

 

This is going to be a long (but definitely helpful) read, so you can choose to download the offline version of this guide here:

Download The Ultimate Interview Guide
 

 

The Story

 

interview-story

 

I had always thought that writing resumes and cover letters were the toughest parts of a job application. This was until I had this encounter at a job interview:

I was having a phone interview with an E-Commerce company, and everything was going pretty smoothly. My strengths and weaknesses, check; Potential contributions, check again.

I thought I was well prepared for most of the commonly asked interview questions!

 

That was when the interviewer suddenly asked:

“Have you tried using our platform?”

Looking to impress, I confidently answered ‘Yes’.

Naturally, she then followed up by asking about my most and least favourite parts of the platform.

This question definitely caught me off guard. I had only used the platform once, and that happened many years ago!

I spewed out generic characteristics of good E-Commerce platforms, but she saw right through it.

 

Needless to say, I failed to advance to the next round of the interview.

 

To help you avoid this tragedy and other pitfalls, this guide has been specially written to share my strategies and tips to prepare for in an interview.

 

I hope that through this guide, you can learn from my mistakes. You will go to the interview prepared, and leave the interview proud and confident of your performance.

 

1. Preparing for the Interview

 

interview-preparation 

 Preparation is key.

This tip might sound obvious, but it may surprise you how many people overlook this.

 

There is a famous saying that goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.

This is especially relevant in the context of job interviews.

A large part of interviews is to show how you are the best fit for the role applied. A best fit then requires a match between two aspects:

  • The company and its job role
  • Yourself

To demonstrate this match, you need to have a good understanding of both aspects.

If you don’t even have a good understanding of either of the two, how can you show that you are the best fit?

 

Without a strong preparation and knowledge of the company, other tips and tricks would be of no help.

So in case you did not get that the first time, Preparation is key.

 

Here’s how you can best prepare for an interview:

 

1.1 Company background knowledge: Experience the company first hand

 

interview experience

 

As candidates prepare for an interview, you often will focus on your own achievements, skills and strengths.

Sometimes, you simply forget to consider the company you have in mind. This is a cardinal sin!

 

Remember how you need to have a match between the company, and yourself?

You should definitely not neglect the company you are interested in.

Keeping this in mind, how can you better understand the company?

 

What better way to understand a company than to experience the company’s product/service offerings!

 

Whether it is a retail storefront, online-based business or any other business that allows you to try their offerings, try it!

As you try the company’s offerings, take down notes of your reflections of the experience: What you liked and disliked about the products and experience, what you think can be improved, areas that you are especially curious of, etc.

This will give you a good first-hand experience to share with your interviewer.

The interviewer will also be able to feel your authentic interest in the company.

 

Company background knowledge: Secondary research

 

interview research

 

For larger companies, or Business-to-business companies that you might not be able to experience their offerings first-hand, no worries!

With the wealth of information available online, you can also do secondary research to find out everything you need to know.

 

Go through the process of learning about different parts of the business through online secondary research. This can include:

  • The vision, mission and values of the organisation
  • Their core products/services
  • Their key value proposition against other competitors
  • Latest news and offerings of the business
  • General industry news and trends
  • Other areas of the business relevant to the position you are applying for

 

It is definitely useful to demonstrate during the interview that you are up-to-date with the company and industry’s news, to show a keen interest in this role that you are applying for.

By understanding their key value proposition and industry trends, you can engage in a more meaningful conversation with the interviewer. This will clearly show your knowledge and effort put into the interview.

 

With a comprehensive understanding of the company, you can also better understand how your interests and values align with the company’s values.

Now, you can show that you are a great fit for the company culture!

 

Special Tip: A very useful way to find all these knowledge about a company is to read the company’s Annual reports! The report will encompass many of the information mentioned earlier, and even the company’s future goals.

 

1.2 Self Knowledge

 

interview self knowledge

 

Remember how we mentioned earlier that the 2 key points of interview preparation are to understand the company, and to understand yourself?

Now that you have a good understanding the company, make sure that you have a good understanding of yourself as well.

 

You might be thinking, “Why do I need to prepare for this? Of course I know myself very well!”

But do you, really?

 

Your work experience

 

First, you need to be very clear about your past work experience and its different details. Some experiences might have been months, or years back, and your memory of them might now be fuzzy.

As you prepare, take time to reflect upon your past work experiences, what you have accomplished, how you accomplished them, and what you have learnt from them.

 

It is not enough to simply know what your past achievements and highlights were.

When sharing your experiences with potential employers, they tend to scrutinize details and processes.

 

For example, they might want to know:

  • What were the exact steps that led you to achieving the particular accomplishment?
  • What were some of the challenges you had leading to the achievement?
  • What was your thought process and framework?

 

Hence, it is critical to first have a thorough understanding of your own experiences.

 

Your skills and traits

 

Besides your job experiences, another important area you need to be absolutely certain of are the skills you possess and the traits you have.

After going through years of schooling, training and work experience, what are some of the skills you have picked up?

 

This can include hard skills such as Adobe Photoshop, technical skills such as AutoCAD, or soft skills such as communication and leadership.

 

Think about the different skills that you possess, and how they might be relevant to the company you are applying for:

Do the skills you have match what they are looking for?

If not, do you have related skills or experiences that can also show that you are up for the job?

 

Besides skills, another key area that employers are looking out for are traits.

Traits are intangibles that can determine whether you are a good cultural fit with the company. Some common traits that companies look for include:

  • Being detail-oriented
  • Being a team player
  • Having perseverance

Take time to also reflect upon the traits you have, and whether they are the right fit with what the company is looking for in a candidate.

 

After having a complete understanding of both the company and yourself, you are now well equipped to prepare for the interview questions!

 

1.3 Interview Questions: The Preparation

 

interview questions

 

With a good understanding of both yourself and the company, are you now good to go?

Well, not quite. Before the interview, you need to take some time to prepare answers for the common interview questions.

 

Here, a common concern surfaces: “But why? Doesn’t this make our answers very forced and fake?”

 

Now, think back to your days in school.

When you were younger in school, did your teacher make you revise past year papers before each major exam?

Before you went for any competitions, did your coach make you practice over and over?

 

This is no different.

 

It is only smart to have prepared for questions that are commonly asked.

This helps you give you a more confident and comprehensive answer, and helps to leave a better impression as well!

 

As you prepare for your answers beforehand, it also helps you to evaluate your own achievements and past experiences, and how you can best highlight them to convince the interviewer.

It is a no loss proposition: Great if similar questions are asked during the interview, but no harm done if they are not asked too!

 

Now that you recognize the importance of preparing for interviewing questions, here are some common interview questions that you can prepare for:

 

Interview question 1: Tell me more about yourself.

 

This question is a MUST-PREPARE. Almost every single interviewer likes to start off with this question, so take advantage and prepare hard for this.

 

In the past, you would probably have started by rattling off all your past experiences in different roles till date.

This can be ineffective as it is not relatable to the interviewer. Instead of simply listing your experiences, try to tell a story with your experiences so that the listener can better understand.

 

For example, if you had experience in multiple industries, you could paint a story of being a high-performer that has been open to new learning opportunities in different areas.

 

Special Tip: Try to find an overarching theme from all your past experiences.

 

Another important thing to note is that you have to relate your experiences back to the company and the role you are applying for.

Remember, it is not all about you.

 

After highlighting a previous job experience, try to evaluate how the experience and skills gained can be applied and translated to this job you are applying for.

Ultimately, the interviewer does not want to just know all about you, but rather why you are a good choice for the role.

 

By showing a clear link, it shows that you have prepared and understood your potential contributions, and helps convince the interviewer that you are a good fit.

 

Interview question 2: Why are you interested in this job/position?

 

This is another common question. Interviewers want to know why you are genuinely interested in the role, outside of plain practical reasons.

 

This interest tends to come from 2 main factors:

 

i) The Company

This is where your previous research on the company all comes in handy.

With good understanding of the company, you can give examples of how they have previously executed strategies that you are excited about. This shows how you have gave thought over the company’s issues beyond the surface level.

You can also talk about the culture of the company, and how the company culture resonates with you. Try to give examples of areas that are unique to the company, and how you will be a good fit for their culture.

 

ii) The Job Role

You will also need to have an excellent understanding of the job role.

You could be interested because the role was a good fit with the skillset you currently possess. Here, you will have to emphasize the skillsets you have, and how they are a natural fit with the job requirements.

Another reason the job would have sparked your interest is probably if it was challenging and exciting in the long run. You will have to demonstrate your passion for the growth opportunities, and how you have been pursuing different opportunities in your career.

 

Interview question 3: Why should I hire you/ How can you contribute to the company?

 

This is a question many interviewers have at the top of their minds.

They are essentially looking for reasons why you will be a great hire for them, and how you can benefit the company. As such, they will often ask this question, but in different forms.

 

This is a question where you can really promote yourself through your response.

 

Here are a few areas you can focus your answer on:

  • Your skillset and how they solve the company’s problems
  • Your traits and personality and how they fit with the company’s culture
  • Your experience and track record and how they can translate into performance

Your expertise will typically come from one or more of these factors.

 

For example, you can answer something along the lines of:

“In my past jobs, I have demonstrated that I have the necessary skillsets A, B and C that the company is looking for.

While I might not have an extensive experience in this particular industry, I have shown leadership and excellent track record in my previous jobs.

Hence, I am confident that my skills and traits can translate into a strong performance and contribute to your company

 

Special Tip: Remember to focus on showing how these factors can help you contribute to the company! Don’t ramble on about yourself!

 

Interview question 4: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

 

Finally, this is a question less commonly asked nowadays, but also important to prepare for.

Preparation for this question allows you to have an honest self-evaluation and prepares you for any other question that might come..

 

To prepare for this question, reflect and focus on a few strengths and weaknesses that you have. Next, evaluate why you think you have them.

  • For each strength, be sure to back it up with past stories and experiences that can demonstrate that you truly possess this strength.
  • For each weakness, try not to focus solely on the weakness itself, but how you acknowledge the weakness and try to improve on the weakness.

 

Preparation for this question is crucial as it gives you an honest look at all your past experiences, and equips you with stories and anecdotes that can also be used in answering other unexpected questions.

 

With these commonly asked questions in mind, you can start preparing for them by noting down your answers, or at least the main points.

Next, make sure to rehearse yourself answering these questions out loud. This helps you gain more confidence and be more fluent in your delivery during the actual interview.

Practise makes perfect. As you get more familiar with your answers, you will be able to deliver them more naturally and fluently.

 

 

1.4 Interview preparation: Asking good questions

 

interview ask questions

 

This is another part of the interview that you must prepare for. Interviewers always end the interview by asking if you have any questions for them.

This is almost like a trick question, as you should always have questions prepared to ask.

 

When you ask good questions to the interviewer, it reflects a few things about you:

 

  1. You show genuine interest in the company, and have pondered over company and industry related issues.
  2. You are well prepared for the interview and have put in effort to research information about the company and industry.
  3. You show strong critical thinking skills.

 

As discussed at the start of this post, you should have done extensive research on the company. This can be through trying out the company’s offerings, or secondary information search on the web.

 

With a good understanding, you should be able to ask thoughtful and targeted questions in a few categories: the job role itself, the team or company that you will be working with, and the industry at large.

 

The following are some general questions that you can take and use in your interviews, but they are by no means exhaustive. Feel free to adapt the questions to the job you are applying for.

Try to ask questions that you have genuine interest in knowing the answers to, so that you can have a more fruitful conversation with the interviewer.

 

Job role

  1. What are the skills and attributes expected from an ideal employee?
  2. What challenges are an employee in the role expected to face, and how can one best overcome them?
  3. Do they have any latest developments related to the job or responsibilities you might be involved in?

 

Team/Company

  1. What is one pressing issue that the team/company is facing that the new employee can help manage?
  2. How is the team/company culture like in its day-to-day work environment?

 

Industry

  1. How are certain industry-related trends and developments affecting the company?
  2. How is the company managing and adapting to these developments?

 

 

2. During the Interview

 

If you have followed all the steps above, you should be well prepared for the interview. Congratulations!

Now comes the big day: Interview day! Here are some more tips to help you perform well on the interview day itself.

 

2.1 Punctuality

 

interview punctuality

 

This is extremely important, as there is almost no excuse to be late for the interview.

In fact, try to be early for about 15 – 30 minutes, to give yourself some buffer time. You never know what may happen on the way!

 

I once went for an interview at a location I was unfamiliar with. With many similar looking buildings around, it was incredibly confusing and hard to find the correct office building!

Another time, it started raining halfway during the journey that forced me to take a huge detour to prevent myself from getting soaked.

 

Moral of the story?

Being early is always better than being late, so plan to arrive early to prevent any unfortunate situations. Being early can help you get better acquainted with the company itself too!

2.2 Attire

 

interview attire

 

Interview attires can vary from company to company, so there is no hard and fast rule to this.

Smaller companies and startups may be more casual, so a smart casual attire could suffice. A more formal work attire would be more suitable for interviews at larger corporations.

That being said, a safe rule of thumb is that it is always better to overdress than underdress.

So if you are unsure, dress more formally to be safe!

 

Be sure to also check every detail of your personal grooming: Your nails, hair and facial hair for males, makeup and hair for females, and any other areas that interviewers might notice.

Remember, every detail counts!

2.3 Delivery of Answers

 

interview delivery

 

Finally, the interview itself! Having prepared so much for the interview, how can you best deliver your answers to perform well?

 

First, while you have prepared tremendously, don’t just memorise and recite your answers!  Your interviewer can tell if you have memorized a script and are just trying to recite it word for word. This can put off interviewers and come off as unauthentic.

Instead, while you want to be extremely familiar with your past work experiences and main points for the answers, try to deliver them in a natural, confident and conversational way.

 

This sounds difficult, but the key is to prepare extensively. With much preparation, you will have internalized the stories you want to tell and they will come out naturally during the conversation.

 

Special Tip: It is also always easier to remember stories, so make use of stories and anecdotes wherever suitable to demonstrate your skills and experiences.

 

Another key area to note is that you should always show your contribution potential rather than simply engaging in self-promotion.

 

Sometimes you might get carried away with talking about your achievements that you forget the purpose of the interview.

The interviewer doesn’t want to know how great you are.

The interviewer wants to see how you can fit with the company, and how you can contribute!

 

So show it clearly through your answers, by highlighting to the interviewer about different areas of the company that you can contribute to.

2.4 Likeability

interview likeability

 

Remember. To. Smile!

Interviews can certainly be tense and nerve-wracking. Many overly nervous interviewees might look too serious or formal to the interviewer.

To mitigate this problem, rehearse! You can rehearse your answers in front of a mirror, to see for yourself and remind yourself to reveal appropriate smiles during parts of the answer.

 

Another area to take note of is your body language and expressions.

During your rehearsal, you want to simulate answering in a real interview as much as possible. Thus it is important to smile appropriately and do appropriate hand gestures even during the preparation of your answers.

 

This way, during the interview itself, you will also be deliver your answers in a natural manner that interviewers can feel more comfortable with.

 

 

3. After the Interview

 

after interview

 

After the interview, you should be happy and relieved, and rightfully so! Give yourself a pat on the back!

 

But it is not all over yet.

 

Within 24 hours, remember to email the interviewer and thank him/her for the interview. Remember that the interview is not a given and you should be thankful for having the opportunity!

You can also drop some subtle reminders regarding the interesting topics you guys talked about during the interview, to help him/her recollect some memories of this specific interview. This also helps to differentiate your interview from the other candidates!

 

Conclusion

 

If you have reached this part of the guide, congratulations! You have now successfully received all my best job interview strategies and secrets.

 

If you need more help with other areas of your career, such as resume writing, cover letter writing and LinkedIn profiles, we also offers solutions that help you relieve the pain and hassle of job application!

With these solutions, you can most easily and effectively apply for the jobs you want!

Click here if you would like to have a chat and know more about these services! Don’t worry, this chat is absolutely free and you are not obliged to engage our services at all!

 

Want to download this guide for future reading and reference? Feel free to download the PDF version of this guide for free here:

Download The Ultimate Interview Guide
 

I wish you all the best for your upcoming interviews, and don’t forget to share this post with a friend to give them a hand too!

 

3 Strategies To Help You Prepare For A Job Interview

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

interview-header

As you’ve go through our content here at DGG Resume, you’ve probably understood what makes an effective resume, and made use of the simple tips to boost your resume from our previous posts.

 

Perhaps you’ve also landed yourself a job interview! Congratulations!

 

But after completing the resume, here comes another nerve-wracking part of the job application process:

 

The Interview

 

Most people fear the interview process, myself included.

In fact, studies have shown that a whopping 92% of American adults are anxious about job interviews!

 

To help you get through the interview process successfully, here are some key tips to guide and inspire you as you prepare for a job interview.

 

1. Experience the Company’s Products/Services

I was having a phone interview with an E-Commerce company, when the interviewer asked if I’ve ever tried using their platform.

Looking to impress, I confidently answered ‘Yes’.

 

Naturally, she then followed up by asking about my most and least favourite parts of the platform.

But this  question caught me off guard. I had only used the platform once, and that happened many years ago!

 

I spewed out generic characteristics of good E-Commerce platforms, but the damage was done.

Needless to say, I failed to advance to the next round of the interview.

interview-experience

 

This tip might sound obvious, but it may surprise you how many people overlook this.

As candidates prepare for a interview, many simply focus on their own achievements, skills and strengths, and simply forget to consider the company they have in mind.

 

What better way to understand a company than to experience the company’s product/service offerings!

 

Whether it is a retail storefront, online-based business or any other business that is possible for you to try their offerings, try it!

 

Bonus tip: While experiencing the company’s offerings, don’t forget to take down notes on your reflections: what you like and dislike about the products, things you might be curious about etc.

These are first-hand reactions that could be useful during the interview process!

 

2. Do Storytell, Don’t List

Do you have that friend that likes to go over all his/her life stories and experiences, every time you meet up?

Does he/she keep on rambling over his/her fun times and expect you to be similarly excited and happy over them?

Now, you don’t want to be that friend, do you?

interview-storytell

As discussed earlier, candidates that prepare for a job interview often fall into the trap of self-focus.

Candidates often only consider their own skills and achievements and can’t wait to share them with interviewers.

 

This does not sit well with interviewers.

Although they might be interested in your experience, they are mainly interested to evaluate how:

1. You can contribute to the company.
2. You can fit with the culture of the company.

 

As such, listing your experiences and achievements since you were 13 in chronological order simply will not cut it.

 

Instead of simply listing, Storytell!

 

As you prepare for a job interview, try to recollect your different experiences and think of the overarching theme(s).

 

Let me give you an example:

 

1. You have struggled with your academics earlier in your life, but took on roles in your CCA and organisations outside of school.
2. While studying in university, you started on external courses and received certifications for different skills.

 

Both these experiences can represent how you are a curious and keen learner, not afraid to always continue exploring new skills and roles and expanding your horizons.

 

When sharing your past experiences with the interviewer, try to also focus on the overarching themes that represent you, rather than just listing out your achievements.

 

This requires a deeper thinking and reflection over your life, so do take time to sit down and reflect upon your personal overarching theme(s), to better storytell your life achievements.

 

3. Ask Good Questions

A key element in having a good conversation is the ability to ask good questions.

 

When you ask good questions to the interviewer, it reflects a few things about you:

 

1. You show genuine interest in the company, pondering over company and industry related issues.
2. You are well prepared for the interview and have put in effort to research information about the company and industry.
3. You show strong critical thinking skills that will be useful in future.

 

By now, you might be thinking to yourself:

interview-ask-questions

Here are some tips:

  1. Primary research

As discussed at the start of this post, trying out the company’s offerings can be a great way to start.

By trying the offerings first hand, it can better inspire some questions or areas about the business you might be curious in.

 

  1. Secondary research

Find out the latest news on the company by gathering information on the web:

Do they have any latest developments related to the job or responsibilities you might be involved in?

Do they have any news that you might be curious about?

 

Bonus tip: You can also do research on the industry and related trends and developments, and how they might affect the company. This will reflect a more mature and in-depth consideration of the issues of the industry at large.

 

 

Preparation is key

 

Now equipped with these 3 tips to prepare for a job interview, be sure to use these tips wisely and most importantly, RESEARCH & PRACTICE for the interview!

 

If you appreciated this article and enjoyed the tips, do give us a like on our Facebook page and share this article with your friends!

 

DGG Resume offers solutions that help you relieve the pain and hassle of job application, so that you can most easily and effectively apply for the jobs you want!

Click here if you would like to engage our services to help you with your job application!

To stay updated with all the latest guides and tips to improve your job application, sign up for our newsletter here!
(Hint: Next topic will be on internships!)

 

 

DGG Week Peek 01

Posted Posted in Uncategorized

Here at DGG Week Peek, we condense 3 valuable articles we’ve found on the web every week. We provide you with key insights from each article, and some personal takeaways we’ve gathered. Read on to find out more about careers, lifestyle, personal development and more, all in one place!

 

1

Google Employees Weighed in on What Makes a Highly Effective Manager (Technical Expertise Came in Last)

leadership google

Leadership

After analyzing a large number of managerial-level employee data, Google found that technical abilities were less important than they expected.

They found other factors that were much more crucial in an effective leader:

 

1. Calm and collected leaders, especially during challenging situations:
Employees appreciate the leadership and patience from strong bosses especially in times of crisis

 

2. Collaboration with employees and personalized involvement:
Collaborative leadership and involving employees deeply in the work process is a long term investment for both the employee and the organisation

 

3. Empathy and care for employees’ personal lives:
Sincerity will be appreciated and reciprocated, and showing real concern creates significant impact in the long run

 

Despite much emphasis about the different hard and soft skills top leaders should have, it seems that the best characteristics a great leader should possess are those that simply come authentically and naturally from the heart.

 

 

2

After Giving 1,000 Interviews, I Found the 4 Questions That Actually Matter

organizational culture

Organizational culture

With experience of interviewing over 1000 people, this writer found that it is essential to hire for cultural fit.

He offers four questions that hirers can ask to make it easier for the them to evaluate the cultural fit between the potential employee and the organisation more accurately:

 

1. How did the culture at the last company empower/disempower you:
Reflects how candidates think about the importance of culture, and their work motivations at the last company

 

2. What were the characteristics of the best boss you’ve ever had:
Reveals what kind of leadership the candidates thrive under, and helps bring to light whether the candidate will be able to succeed in the new company’s leadership

 

3. Describe how you handled a conflict with one of your co-workers:
Shows the character of the candidate and how he/she perceives as a reasonable way to resolve a conflict

 

4. What kind of feedback do you expect to receive in this role and how often do you expect to receive it:
Reflects the candidate’s receptiveness to feedback, and in turn shows his/her inclination towards personal development and growth

 

Culture is extremely important for every organisation, serving as a binding thread between members of the team. It also provides intangible value as a guiding light and purpose. Jobseekers, do consider your own personal characteristics, what kind of culture you would thrive in, and how you can contribute to a company’s culture.

 

 

3

Rock your next interview with these 5 secrets of body language

body language secrets

Body language tips for job interviews

Many nonverbal body language cues during job interviews are very telling of our true emotions and personalities.

This human behaviour investigator offers 5 tips to prepare for job interviews. Jobseekers can use these tips to present themselves in the best light:

 

1. Handshake:
Give a handshake at the beginning and at the end of each interview, to have a good first and final impression

 

2. Confident body posture:
Helps to avoid looking insecure, and shows the readiness for the interview and the job

 

3. Fronting the interviewer:
A nonverbal sign of respect to the interviewer and the interview process itself

 

4. Authentic and natural smiling:
Shows good passion and chemistry in the topic of discussion

 

5. Appropriate eye contact:
Recommended to be around 70% of the time, reflecting strong interest and respect

 

We may all have our natural habits and tendencies, but practise makes perfect! These body language cues are definitely hard to perform naturally. Practice in front of a mirror/friends to exude confidence without looking staged.

 

 

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Itching for more? Check out our latest blogpost here, or find out more about the career development services we offer here!