How to do research for job interviews

Hi this is Anita from Magoosh English Speaking with the first lesson in our series on American Business Culture – The Interview. Today we are going to provide you with 2 practical tips for succeeding on your job interview in English, relating to research and preparation you should do before your next interview. You’d be surprised how many people falter at the interview stage even after they have impressed with their resume and technical skills. We want you to feel confident going into the interview, so we’ve prepared today’s video which will go beyond the “tell me about yourself” type of questions and use 2 popular behavioral questions to demonstrate how important it is to do your research before the interview.

Worksheets

Language tips

How to describe an ideal employer?

We’re starting this series with what to do before the interview because it’s that research and preparation you do beforehand that will make or break your interview. Here’s a quote from one famous American you can add to your repertoire: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Don’t be that person who fails because they didn’t prepare. Of course that’s unthinkable for a bright Magoosh student like you, so let’s get down to business and look at how you can prepare and research for that interview. To demonstrate how, we’re going to give you concrete examples, using 2 really common interview questions.

The 2 questions we will practice with today are:

  1. Why do you want to work here?
  2. What are you most proud of in your work history?

After each question, we’ll present a bad and a good answer sample response.

After each answer, we’ll provide a quick critique.

Finally, we’ll highlight 1 practical tip for each question, and some vocabulary, phrases, and sentence structures that you can use immediately in your interview.

Question 1

Now let’s dive into it! The first question is

“Why do you want to work at our company?” Let’s first hear an ill-prepared response:

Bad example

I know you are hiring a lot of engineers recently. It seems like a great place with interesting technical problems. I like problem solving, so here I come

Critique

Bad: hasn’t done his research about the company, so is very general about why he wants to work there and what he has to contribute, failing to mention specifics about that company, use language specific to that industry

Good example

I like that you deal with some of the most technical problems in machine learning. I was talking with my friend Tony the other day, who is part of your engineering team, and was impressed by all the interesting tools he got to play within in natural language processing. I look forward to growing with the company and exploring the frontier of NLP problems.

Critique

Shows he has done his research about the company, impresses with detailed specifics and uses language specific to that industry. He knows what this company prides itself in, what technology they’re using and shows that he is familiar with what the role entails. This answer is sure to make a better impression.

Practical tip 1

Know your role. When you apply for a company, do your research on

  • What’s the company culture like
  • What problems they face
  • What accomplishment they’ve made
  • Who their customers are
  • What their organizational structure is like
  • What technology/methodology they use

Doing research can help you a few other questions too like:

  • Why do you want to work as X?
  • What are you main considerations when choosing a company?

Language tips

  • … company is an Industry leader in … and offers great mentorship opportunities around …
  • This startup is scrappy and rewards risk-taking. I heard from a friend (insert example)
  • I’m particularly impressed by your mission of (insert mission), and (that mission) has always been an important part of my professional development

Question 2

Research on how you fit the role. The question we’ll use to demonstrate why you need to research the role you’re applying for is the following: What are you most proud of?

Bad example

I’m most proud that my team pushed most features out last year. We worked really hard to understand customer needs and simplify the problem whenever we can. I feel very proud that we are the most productive team

Critique

This answer didn’t seem too bad at first glance but failed to address specific traits of the candidate themselves. What did he/she do that contributed to the team’s productivity?

Good example

I take the most pride in organizing a weekly peer learning session among the engineers in my department. Each engineer used to all build different features individually, and sometimes we would end up building a component that had already been built before. The individualistic nature of our work hampered our productivity. Since I launched the peer learning session, everybody could share the tools they used and more importantly reusable modules they have built. This learning session has become one of the most beloved meetings in my team, and has largely contributed to us becoming the most productive engineer team in the company.

Practical tip 2

Know yourself. We all have different personalities, working styles, and job histories. Before each job interview, spend some time thinking about what’s most interesting about you in relation to the job you are applying for.

Here are just a few possibilities to help you brainstorm, and here we’ve embedded our language tips in bold, expressions you could use on an interview if they apply to you.

Language tips

You are very data driven and figured out a solution that seems counter-intuitive

You are customer centric, built relationships, and secured an important client

You are very good at coordinating a team with diverse backgrounds and opinions, and achieved success that nobody could pull off individually

So what resources are out there to tap into for your research? Remember how in one of his responses, the interviewee referred to speaking with an employee of the company, making himself a referral. But what if you don’t have contacts at the company you’re applying to? You too can become a referral if you do a little research before the interview. Online resources like LinkedIn are powerful research tools to find other employees from companies around the world. Select one employee from the company you’re applying to, current or former, to email with a request for a brief call, explaining that you would appreciate benefiting from his or her knowledge on how you could stand out as a candidate. Aside from talking to current or former employees, explore the company’s website and look for articles online that can offer insight.

Bringing everything together, remember to do your research on the company and the role you’re applying for. Know yourself and your strengths and how they fill a need in that role. The best case scenario is when you are able to use all three of these types of responses so that you can make a real impression on that employer. Be sure to access the worksheets we’ve included in this lesson and the language tips for describing an ideal employer. Of course, it takes practice to deliver these answers smoothly and confidently, so if you would like some help crafting and practicing your interview answers, book a Magoosh English Speaking class today and we’d be happy to help you out.

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