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What is the secret of people who always excel in job interviews?

Updated: May 11, 2020

More than the secret, it is the preparation and understanding what the Hiring manager/company is looking for.

Brief background : Arun has successfully interviewed and got offers from :

  • Flipkart (India),

  • Amazon (Germany),

  • Zalando (Germany),

  • AMD (Singapore) among others.

While preparing for the interview, this is Arun's mindset and actions :

  • What is the company business : this might sounds very basic, but very few candidates take the pains of really understanding the business. What he does not mean is just scanning their websites for an overview.

What Arun means is :

  1. going through their website,

  2. reading their annual report (treasure of information on company’s challenges),

  3. latest financial press articles on their performance (easier for public companies),

  4. using “Google News” to look for relevant updated news on this company,

Arun's action items : To make a list of company’s pain point or challenges that they are facing. Thinking about some of the ideas/suggestions to work on those challenges that I can talk about during my interview.

Hiring manager Reaction: they are usually amazed at the depth of knowledge about their business and challenges. Reflects the preparation and hard work done before coming for the discussion.

  • Reading the JD : As a hiring manage, I am amazed as to how many candidates just ignore the JD. The JD is there for a reason. It outlines the broad strokes of what the role is looking for.

As a candidate, this is how Arun prepares :

  1. Try to match about 70% of the JD to my skill sets,

  2. Pick the most relevant points from JD and place a real life example of where you demonstrated expertise on that topic,

  3. Create a list of such 4–5 real life situations, and the benefit it drove for my employer/boss,

  4. Use these topics as a discussion point during the interviews to showcase my knowledge & hands on experience,

Arun's action items : Be thorough on the specific working details of each of these situations. Visualise what the manager asked me for, sharing his pain points. How was the outcome achieved, with all the learning during the project/analysis.

This injects a sense of confidence when talking about these examples during an interview.

Hiring manager reaction : They are usually impressed that the answers are relevant, addresses their hidden questions (mentioned below) and given with confidence. By this time, there is usually a small smile appearing from the panel. (Notice the change in their body language),

General Interview questions : Nothing in the interview is about YOU. You are just a means to deliver what the company is asking for. So, at the end of the day, what matters is what YOU can do for the company. This mindset is necessary to answer typical questions :

1 Tell me about yourself - Meaning : as a professional, what value do you bring to this role and how will you address the company’s pain points.

This question is not intended to know about :

  • your personal backgrounds,

  • where you come from,

  • city or country,

  • your school or college,

  • which year did you complete your education or started working,

  • your hobbies or your interests (comes at the close of the interviews),

2 Give me an example of …… - Meaning : Have you ever worked on a similar problem or situation, how did you go about it and most importantly, were you able to find a solution to that problem?

The question is not looking for :

  • examples where you did good work,

  • some random examples,

3 Did you ever face a difficult situation…. - Meaning : Do you stand for the quality and results of your work? If so, then you must run into situations where a senior colleague did not agree with you or your analysis found that another department was causing problems in achieving revenues. In such situations, how did you manage to pull through.

The question is not looking for :

  • your personal life examples,

  • made up examples of what you think might have been a conflict situations,

  • your aggression but more for your assertive and soft skills,

Some of the other unspoken/implicit questions interviewers are assessing are :

  • Are you a good employee to work with? (are you a team player who gets along well with other or just an IC who does not care about others, sometimes even the reporting managers),

  • Are you willing to learn? (since only 70%-80% of the JD matches your skills set, are you willing to learn the rest, learn a new business, be comfortable in a new working culture or in new business),

  • Do you take initiatives? (are you someone who does just what is enough or are you willing to learn more, move out of your comfort zone and grow).

Hiring manager reaction : Due to the quality and depth of the answers, the hiring managers are satisfied by this time. In some situations, they are out of questions to ask. This is usually an indication that their mind is made up positively about my application.

The secret of acing any interview is how to stand out from the rest of the candidates, based on the strength of your hard work, genuine experiences and personality.

It always helps to have a mentor, who has worked and lived in Germany for some of the best brands. For personal consultation with Arun Mahajan, book a time with him.

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