The Ultimate Guide for Interview Preparation

Posted by Lucas Leung

Interviews are a nerve-wracking process. This is especially the case when you are applying for numerous vacationer or graduate programs simultaneously. More often than not, each application process will consist of multiple rounds of interviews, conducted in different mediums such as by phone, video, or in-person. This article will give you a complete guide and run-down on how to prepare for any kind of interview that comes your way.

1. Phone Interviews

There are two types of phone interviews in an application process - scheduled and unscheduled. Unscheduled phone interviews are used by the recruiter to confirm their choice to progress you to the next stage. They will usually get you to repeat things from your application such as your graduation date, degree, and your motivations for applying. Since you can't exactly prepare directly for an unscheduled call, it's always good to keep in the back of your mind the different applications you've submitted as well as your motivations and preliminary research, so that you don't get put on the spot. Another hot tip is to also have a standard voice mail to have a good first impression.

On the other hand, scheduled phone interviews are a lot easier to prepare for. Before the call, sit in a comfortable and quiet environment where you can speak freely and at a good volume. A phone interview allows you to have notes nearby which is a bit of a bonus. Preparing questions to ask back to your interviewer is also helpful to show your tailored interest in their company.

2. Video Interviews

One-Way / Recorded

Large companies will use one-way (recorded) video interviews as part of their recruitment process. You may encounter a software called Hirevue for example, which a company will use to record your responses to predetermined questions.

After receiving an invitation to the digital interview stage, you'll usually have about 48 hours to submit a response. During this time, do some further research into the company and the industry so you can be prepared for any curveballs. Look up some common digital interview questions and prepare a rough dot pointed answer structure. Given you can have a pre-prepared answer, it can be very easy to sound robotic and rehearsed so make sure you aren't reciting a response word for word.

Similar to a phone interview, sit in a comfortable environment with good lighting and a neutral background. Avoid technical issues by testing you have a good internet connection and by following the instructions carefully. It also helps to dress up in business formal from the waist up to have a great first impression. Pay attention to the clock and look directly at the camera to create a more conversational atmosphere.

Two-Way / Live

Preparation for a live video interview is very similar to a one-way interview - the main difference is that you are now speaking directly with a real human being!

For these types of interviews, practice makes perfect. Set up a few mock interviews with some friends or even a mentor to get some experience answering interview questions. Receiving first-hand feedback from them is one of the best ways to improve your interview skills. Having in-depth knowledge about the role, the company, and your motivations will also help you speak smoothly and genuinely, which means you won't be looking for things to say.

Your response should also be very structured. The most common is the STAR method:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result

As a bonus, you can add in an 'L' at the end which stands for Learnings. Recruiters encourage when candidates can reflect on an experience and what they got out of it.

3. In-Person Interviews (Competency, Partner, Technical, Panel)

COVID-19 aside, all application processes will often finish with some kind of in-person interview, whether it be technical, with a partner, behavioural, or in front of a panel.

Competency-based (behavioural) interviews often designed to test a few different skills and can range from being a 1-on-1 interview to a group or panel interview. These could test skills such as time management, leadership, problem-solving, creativity, teamwork, conflict management, etc. Questions usually come in a similar form to - "Describe a time when you...." or "Talk about a time when you demonstrated...".

Before attending the interview, have a think about your previous experiences and situations where you used certain skills to produce a great outcome. Most candidates will prepare examples for the common competency question categories, such as leadership for example.

Technical interviews are common in specific industries such as Finance & Banking, Information Technology, and Engineering. Preparation for this type of interview is a bit more time consuming than others. The best place to start is to find questions or exercises you can practice online. Here are a couple of examples to get you started:


Here is a fantastic way to prepare for any of your interviews- an 'Interview Placemat' (created by Victoria Redman, a Marketing Director at EPAM Systems). This can be used for both phone and video interviews to help you structure your thoughts and think through a range of examples and answers for different types of questions.

Interview Placement

Source: Victoria Redman


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