Question forms part of
Other interview questions that are similar
What did you do when you learned you were asked in to interview with us?
Do you know much about our interview process?
What the interviewer is looking for by asking this question
I wouldn’t say this question was immensely popular with interviewers but you should still prepare for it anyway. Mostly this question will be a follow-up to questions like
What made you choose X company?
Why do you want to work here?
The interviewer might even sneak a smaller version of this question in by asking
Did you get here ok today?
The interviewer isn’t actually interested in whether you got there ok (they know that as you are sitting in front of them), they are asking this because they want to see how you approached getting to a new place.
When this question is asked the hiring team are looking for a couple of things.
Firstly, how seriously are you taking this application. They want to know if you are interested in this role or if your application was just one of many and you are not really bothered about the position.
Secondly, the interviewer wants to see how you plan for things. They want to know if you are a meticulous planner who needs every detail to be sorted, or if you plan as you go. For interviews it’s always best to be the former.
The best approach to answering this question
Scenario based questions like this should always be answered using the B-STAR technique. The method requires the re-telling of a specific example. Luckily for you the interviewer has already selected the example for you so that’s one less thing to worry about.
B – Belief – You should start you answer talking about how you believe in making good first impressions so it is important to you that you should never be late. Also mention how you always want to be prepared for any question that comes up so you practiced in advance.
S – Situation – Rather obviously the situation is the interview you have been invited to. For this question this should be a one liner that keeps the answer flowing. “So when I got the call about this interview I knew I needed to…[continue with T – Task]”.
T – Task – Talk about what you needed to accomplish. Did you need to research the area to understand the best way to get to the interview? Did you need to refresh on your interview technique? The best answers will talk about doing a dry run of getting to the interview site (if you have never been there before of course). Also be careful not to say how you needed to perform research on the company at this stage. The interviewer will ask why you only chose to research the company after getting the interview, did you not know anything about the role or company before you decided to apply? Instead talk about how you needed to ‘refresh your memory’ from your prior research.
A – Activities – Run through what you actually did. Here are some good things to include, if they are applicable to your situation:
- Performed a dry run of getting to the interview site (for online interviews you can say you had a friend setup a video call to ensure your hardware was in order)
- Reached out to contacts you know in the business for advice and to learn more
- Worked on putting your experience down on paper – oftentimes our work achievements are all in our head, writing them down allows us to be able to fully describe our impact to the business
- Practiced interview questions
- Continued research into the company (company website, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, references in the media, financial statements etc.)
R – Results – It’s too early in the day to talk about whether your preparation paid off, you will find that out after the interview. But you should say how your preparation got you to the interview on time and in one piece and talk about anything you learned about the firm.
How NOT to answer this question
“To be honest I didn’t have much time to prepare for this interview as my current role is currently working 50+ hour weeks…”
I’ve had candidates tell me they think this is a great way to answer this question because a) it shows the interviewer that you are capable of putting in the long hours to get things done, and b) the interviewer is likely to be more impressed with good answers because they know that you didn’t have any preparation.
Well as someone who has performed countless interviews I can tell you that the interviewer will not be impressed by this answer. For most companies (I say most because there are always bad actors) the interview process is an arduous one. The hiring manager has to sift through many applications to get it down to the interview stage, then they need to ensure they have the right questions prepared for the interviewee and then they have to make time out of their day to meet with you.
The minimum they expect from a future colleague is to show the same level of preparation that they put in. They want to see that you care about getting the role as much as they care about filling the role.
How Did You Prepare For This Interview? – Example answer
“I believe that it’s incredibly difficult to overcome a bad first impression. Because of this I always strive to never make one. That’s why for important meetings, or interviews like this, I make a clear plan of what I want to get from the meeting and outline the steps I need to take to achieve that goal.
So when I received the call about scheduling this interview the first thing I did was research your offices. As you are based in an area of town I am not familiar with I drove by here after work one evening just to make sure I knew the way. I also checked Google Maps to see what the traffic would be like at this time. Nothing worse than being late sitting in traffic after all.
I actually have a contact who works in your finance department, Claire, we were colleagues in the place I am currently working. I reached out to her to see if there was anything she could tell me about the interview process. We had spoken before about the company as a whole and how she talks about the company is one of the reasons I applied.
Following our chat I went through all of my work achievements and made sure they fully encompassed everything I have accomplished in my career.
I’m glad I took the time to prepare as I did because there was a lot of traffic so it was good I knew to expect that. Also talking with Claire helped jog my memory on a project we both worked on a few years back delivering a piece of financial software that I believe your company is in the process of deploying.”
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