Interview Preparation

06/26/23 | 7 MIN READ

Interview Preparation

Interviews are one of the steps in the selection process you must undergo after being screened for qualifications and passing. The interview engages the employer with the applicant, where the potential candidate can be cross-examined. At this stage interviewing allows an employer to determine if an applicant's skills, experience, and personality meet the company's job requirements, needs, and environment. 

Properly prepare for interviews by first understanding the type of interviews that you might go through. Types of interviews you might have include:

  • Phone Interviews
  • Group Interviews 
  • One-on-One Interviews 
  • Panel Interviews 
  • Project Interviews 
  • Meal Interviews 

Each type of interview have some similarities but are ultimately different. One should understand the purpose of each one and when it is appropriate for employers to initiate one over the other. 

Phone Interviews 

Phone interviews can be phone calls or zoom interviews. Most organizations will use a 15-20 minute interview over the phone for the screening process. A screening interview will often cover your interest in the job and your availability. The screening will also serve as a check for the candidate checks salary expectations and if the company can meet these expectations. The employer at this point will often establish your basic qualifications for the job and clear up questions they may have based on self-reported information, resume, and/or CV.  By having a clear perspective on you, the company can better determine if the two of you are a fit for one another or if there is anything that might disqualify you for the job.

One-to-One Interviews 

One-to-one Interviews are the most common type of interview. These are usually 30 to 60-minute conversations with the hiring manager or a representative from human resources. If you’re offered a one-to-one interview, the employer probably already believes that you have the technical skills for the job. Your task is to corroborate this assumption by showing the interviewer how you’ll be a good fit in the existing company environment. Expect to answer more behavioral questions rather than being tested on your technical knowledge.

With a one-to-one interviewer, the hiring manager or representative wants to see how you will fit into the company. Create a connection with the interviewer and showcase your communication skills and emotional intelligence. The better your rapport, the easier they can envision working with you. The best way to build this connection is by researching your interviewer before.

Group Interviews

Group interviews consist of multiple applicants being interviewed at once. The size of the group varies but can be anywhere between two to ten people. In group interviews, questions might be asked of each candidate, or the interviewer might facilitate a structured group conversation. These conversations assess how candidates respond in groups or interact with one another. Employer’s want help identifying team-oriented candidates by seeing your reactions and communication skills when surrounded by a much larger audience. Use this group interview as an opportunity to showcase your enthusiasm, courage, and leadership, especially if you stand out among the others.

Approach a group interview as a team player. You can highlight being team focused by speaking when given the opportunity, but without dominating the conversation. You also can show active listening skills by reciprocating communication with other candidates. Addressing these individuals by their names, and involving them in the conversation can express your interest and ability to lead a group. Using your leadership skills and taking initiative will always leave a positive impression on the interviewer.

Panel Interviews

Panel interviews are like group interviews because multiple people are present. The difference is that multiple staff members are present who will ask their questions to a single candidate. Panel interviews are highly organized with a structured hiring process from the hiring side. The prospective employee is being pressed with questions until the interviewers fill like they have asked all they need. Succeeding in this interview, is a combination of two methods together. 

The first method is to address the hiring team members and respond with individualized attention. For instance, a specific person will ask you a question important to them and their job. Display that you value their importance and reciprocate the communication. Show that you are responsive to their concerns by looking them in the eye, repeating their name, then proceeding with your answer. This step ensures you always address your response directly to the person who asked the question. 

The second method is to facilitate a broad conversation with the full panel, thus showing your full engagement, even in a stressful situation. You can achieve an active conversation with the room by first directly answering the question posed by a panelist. After integrating the other panelists into the conversation.  Elaborate on your response by addressing the priorities, challenges, and perspectives of the other interviewers. Facilitating a more active conversation where you address every panelist has just showcased that you understand the multiple demands of the job.

Project Interviews

Project interviews are a real test to see how you perform on the job when given a project. These types of tasks are assigned with strict deadlines by the companies. These companies will then judge the applicant based on their performance and completion compared to other candidates.

Succeeding at a project interview, comes with being prepared and performing well under pressure. It is imperative to meet the demands at your best quality of delivery. Keep in mind the employer might assign you an extremely hard task to see how you manage your stress, while still performing. The goal is to deliver a final project that shows your thought process, which for some employers is the most important part. Presenting work that shows your thought process displays how you execute tasks and what makes you successful in meeting expectations.


Meal Interviews 

A meal interview is much different because the employer is working to understand your personality and how you will fit into the company. Interacting over a meal often exposes how the candidate acts outside of the office. Given, the more relaxed atmosphere, individuals tend to let their guard down, which is when interviewers can better examine their habits and communication skills. 

In a meal interview, answer questions throughout your meal and convey your interest by asking the interviewer questions. Questions might include asking about the challenges, needs, and goals of the company. Then, explain how you can uniquely help solve these problems in the position.

Combination of the Above Interviews

Keep in mind, these interviews can also be used in combination with one another. When multiple prospective candidates are being considered, companies might have rounds of interviews over a few months. If different stages of interviews are required for the position, you might experience all types or a few of those named above. Despite the position you are in, being prepared can only help support you in the interview process.

🔬Learn: Proper Business Etiquette

Research the Company 

Researching the company is the second part of a successful interview. When researching, your goal is to learn more about the company's values, goals and desired skillset. Knowing this information can help you present yourself as a phenomenal match for the position and the company. The best way to learn about the company is constructed in three parts. Know the company, know the interviewer or interviewers, and know the other employees. 

Know the Company

Knowing the company boils down to looking into what exactly the company does, who they do it for, why they do it, and what are their values, mission statement, and vision. You usually want to ensure that your goals align with the company, hence being in line with what the company represents. This information can usually be found on their company website and social media page. It is encouraged to look at all URLs that provide more insight into who the company is. 

Research the Interviewer

Knowing the company also entails knowing the interviewer. Oftentimes, who a company employs is a good representation of the type of personality and the kind of worker that this company looks to hire. It is advised to review their LinkedIn and social media profiles. While reviewing these profiles, try and learn about their professional biography and look for shared interests and connections. The more you have in common with the interviewer, the better because you can leverage these connections for a conversation based on commonality. 

Research other Employees

Additionally, you want to research the other employees. Finding current employers is a good way to gauge what these individuals did to get into the company, what skills or knowledge is needed, and what they do for the company. It is best to filter and specifically look at the employees who work under a job title that you are interviewing for or similar to the one you are interviewing for.

interview at conference

Do a Mock Interview 

After knowing the type of interview that is part of the selection process and researching the company, you are better prepared to undergo a mock interview. For a mock interview, identify the goals that you want to accomplish while at the company and the skills that you bring, which will help you to attain these goals. Note, that you want to present these goals and skills in the form of stories that demonstrate initiative among your potential colleagues and a mindset that can contribute to a better company. Part of preparing these stories, also means you should prepare questions that express enthusiastic interest.

Identify your Goals / Skills  

When identifying your goals and skills you do not want to just list them for the employer. 

Prepare Stories 

Prepare 1 to 2-minute STAR stories. STAR responses refer to the method that is used when answering the interview question because of the way they are developed. STAR is an acronym that stands for situation, task, action, and result, with each part tailored and constructed, to be a fitting response. Whenever you answer a question, you want to respond to the interviewer by setting up a sample situation, the task at hand, how you took action towards the task, and the final result of your actions. It is okay for the story you tell to not have a successful ending, what is important is the process you went through.

Prepare Questions 

Interviewers give you the opportunity to ask any questions, always remember to prepare two to three for the interview. These questions can be in regard to the job position, or how the company functions. The purpose of these questions are meant to leave a thoughtful impression. When you ask questions they imply that you care about the company doing well and your interest in supporting the job opportunity. 

conference discussion

🔬Learn: How to Sell Yourself in an Interview

Resume and Business Ready 

Before the interview there are two main touch-ups that you can bring to your interview. One, bring printed copies of your resume, You may have already submitted them online in the application portal, or even handed the employers a hard copy at industry night, but you want to remind them who you are, as the applicant. Bring them your resume to refresh their memory and stand out. Having a hard copy of your resume also demonstrates readiness and professional mannerism. Two, look professional and act professional, this includes, dressing in proper business attire. The easiest way to be in proper business attire is to wear solid traditional colors. Generally go for navy blue, black, or grey for your slacks, skirt, and blazer, along with a collared shirt in solid white, or any of the colors already mentioned. 

🔬Learn: How to Write a Resume

Interview Ready

Lastly, go into your interview confident and ready with everything that you have prepared. You will do amazing in that interview. Best of luck!


The Ultimate Guide to Wet Lab Incubators

Download The Ultimate Guide to Wet Lab Incubators in Southern California, a handbook to assist life science start-ups through the entire decision-making process to find wet lab space.

Download Now

Fill out the form below to download the Ultimate Guide

Apply for residency today

Do you have a great company in the bioscience or medtech industry? Do you need wet-lab and/or fabrication space to develop and test your product?


Related Articles