3 Things You Need to Prepare for Your Next Interview

I’ve been doing quite a lot of interviews this summer, and putting a lot of preparation into each one. With lots of practice, advice, and resources, I am sharing my tips and tricks on what to prepare and how to prepare!

#1 – Insights from the Team or Stakeholders

Before you head into the interview, try to meet with at least 2-3 people from the team or with people who work closely with that team. This will give you interesting insights about the role and team that could help you tailor your answers in the interview. For example, if you find out that the team has more traditional or tenured employees and is looking to modernize it’s approach, you can talk about how you offer a fresh and new perspective that can be valuable to them. This exercise can also help you prepare great questions to ask at the end of the interview if you want to explore certain topics further with the hiring manager.

Questions to Ask:

  1. Can you tell me about what a day in the life looks like?
  2. What do you like vs. dislike in the role? What are the opportunities and challenges with this role?
  3. What is the team culture and dynamic like?
  4. What is the hiring manager’s leadership style like?
  5. Who are your key stakeholders?

#2 – Career Walking Deck

Many people at Microsoft prepare a Career Walking Deck to answer questions like “tell me about yourself” in their interviews. This is especially useful for virtual interviews, when it is harder to stand out and make a more personal impression on your interviewers. A Career Walking Deck should be short but impactful, and you can view one of my first versions here. If you want to go above and beyond, prepare a 30-60-90 day onboarding plan to share with the hiring manager.

#3 – Your Most Impressive Stories

Your ability to sell yourself in an interview depends on your ability to tell a story that resonates with the interviewer(s). Remember to pick a few key themes that you believe will be important to the role (e.g. analytical skills, presentation skills, teamwork skills) and prepare a S-T-A-R response for each. Choose around 3-5 of your most relevant stories.

  • Situation: Set the context in 1 sentence
  • Task: Describe what your goal was in the situation
  • Action: Highlight what YOU did to achieve the goal
  • Result: Emphasize the positive outcome that your actions resulted in

I recommend using this STAR matrix template to help you stay organized:

ThemeSituationTaskActionResult
Communication
Teamwork
Project Management
Conflict Resolution

TL;DR

  1. Meet with 2-3 people on the team or who work closely with the team to gain “insider details”
  2. Prepare a Career Walking Deck and a 30-60-90 day onboarding plan
  3. Pick 3-5 of your most impressive and relevant accomplishments to talk about

Best of luck on your next interview!