I have a couple of friends who, although not excellent academically, excel at job interviews. Initially, I believed that mastering the basic concepts related to any job profile was sufficient to ace an interview. However, my friends’ success made me curious about any specific strategies they might be employing. So, I decided to discuss this with them.
In addition to attending multiple interviews to increase their chances of success, my friends employ other strategies. While I don’t fully support the notion of making numerous attempts to ensure success, I do recognize the importance of adequate planning prior to any interview. A crucial part of their planning process is identifying specific topics to study in advance, avoiding a haphazard review of all concepts. This article will outline strategies to identify key topics to prepare for an interview.
This article is particularly useful for those preparing for an interview under time constraints, such as those currently employed and planning a career change. It provides strategic guidance for individuals making lateral moves. It also offers assistance to those who may not be as proficient in, or have limited experience with, the job profile they aim to transition into.
I used to believe that one should know 100% about the concepts required by a particular job profile. However, after speaking with friends who frequently aced interviews, I learned this isn’t true. Adopting their strategy helped me secure a job with a desirable salary and title in just 2 months. This success came during a time when switching jobs was challenging, so I can confidently say that this strategy works.
Speak with your HR representative or hiring manager to gain insight into which topics to prepare for
When HR reaches out to you to arrange your job interview, it’s a good idea to take this opportunity to inquire about the structure of the interview process. Asking about what to expect at each stage and the focus area for each round can give you a clearer picture of what lies ahead and help you prepare more effectively.
If the HR representative isn’t sure about these details, they often arrange a call with the hiring manager in order to provide more specific information. The hiring manager can clarify the expectations and provide insight into what the company is looking for in a potential candidate. If the HR representative doesn’t suggest this, don’t hesitate to request a conversation with the hiring manager. This can demonstrate your initiative and commitment to understanding the role and the company, which could potentially work in your favor.
Generate word cloud from the job description to get the topic list
If you didn’t receive much insight from the previous step or need more clarity on the topics to prepare, creating a word cloud from the job description can be another solution.
Before diving further, let’s understand what a word cloud is.
A word cloud is a visual representation of text, where each word’s size indicates its frequency or importance. When applied to job descriptions, creating a word cloud involves extracting key terms and phrases and visualizing them in a cloud-like format.
This tool can help identify the most relevant topics to study for your interview based on the emphasis on certain words or skills in the job description.
Prepare according to interview round
If you’re familiar with each interview round from the start, that’s excellent. If not, you can always ask your current interviewer about the following rounds.
It’s vital to understand the focus of the current round. For example, if you’re preparing for a design round while you have a coding round coming up, it’s a waste of time.
I’m not suggesting that interviewers won’t ask questions relevant to other rounds, but the probability is low. You should prepare for things that are most likely to happen. At reputable companies, you can even tell the interviewer, “I haven’t prepared for this round because I was told the interview would be structured differently. So, I prepared accordingly.” In most cases, the interviewer will understand.
Get hints about topics from previous interview questions
This step serves as a backup if the previous strategies do not yield results. This may happen if you did not receive:
- A focus area from HR or the Hiring Manager
- A detailed job description to filter out topics using a word cloud
- Any guidance from the interviewer in the current round
In such situations, it’s recommended to prepare using topics from previous interviews. Sometimes, companies may not know exactly what they’re hiring for. For instance, they might know they need a machine learning engineer, but they’re unsure about the specific tasks this role will undertake once onboarded. In these cases, the company might lack a focus area and might not be able to provide clear guidance to you.
Therefore, it’s best to prepare based on questions asked in previous interview rounds. You also have a good chance to steer the conversation toward your areas of strength. This opportunity usually arises when they ask you the first question, i.e., “Tell me about yourself.”
To summarize, preparing for an interview is truly an art that requires careful planning and strategic thinking. If you adhere to the strategies outlined in this article, you’re not only saving valuable time but also significantly increasing your chances of acing the interview. These strategies are designed to help you focus your preparation on key areas, eliminating the need to review all concepts indiscriminately, which can be time-consuming and impractical.
By following these strategies, your interview preparation becomes more efficient and targeted, thus allowing you to crack interviews in a shorter period of time. This can greatly alleviate the anxiety and stress that commonly accompany interview preparation, especially when faced with unsuccessful attempts. Remember, every interview is a learning opportunity, and each attempt brings you one step closer to your desired job.
These strategies aren’t just theoretical; they have been tried and tested and have proven to be successful. Not only will they help you perform better in your interviews, but they will also instill a sense of confidence and preparedness in you. So, embark on your interview preparation journey with these strategies in hand and experience the difference they can make.
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