I attended a speed mentoring event the other night where I was the mentor.  Similar to a speed dating format, people ask as many questions as possible within a set time limit.  This event was hosted by an employment agency where they help immigrants and the unemployed find a job.  

When I sat down to listen to the questions they have, a lot of them already have a resume to show me.  I was blown away by their work experience and years of industry knowledge.  In comparing job experiences, 75% of the people there could have been my boss.

Some of the common issues raised were they have the experience but they still struggled in securing a job.  Most of them are able to secure the face to face interview, but after that, they do not hear back for a follow up interview.  

There could be hundreds of reasons in why the employer decided on another job candidate.  It could be that the competition was just so much better.  Another reason could be employers have an internal candidate in mind too, and they post the job to see how the external applicants compare to the internal one.  This is all beyond your control.

But for the factors we can control, let’s break down the interview process.  Whether the employer himself or herself knows it or not, the manager that you will be reporting to wants three questions answered:

  1. Are you competent and skilled for the role?
  2. In terms of the soft skills, are you the right fit for the company and culture?

  3. How well do you work with me?

Are you competent and skilled for the role?

This question is the most easiest to answer out of the other three.  The job posting already lists out what the qualifications are and what the employer is looking for.  Your resume also identifies how you are qualified.  Now, the employer wants proof that you can do the job.  They may give you a test to feel out your skills.  

 The best way to prepare for this question is to review your technical background and give evidence of how you displayed these skills in your prior role.  If you went to school to learn a skill for this role, I suggest you also include your marks - if they are high enough that is.

 If they are asking a very technical question such as how you would prepare a budget, what is the accounting cycle, or what is HTML5, try to be as specific and detailed.  The more details you provide, the more confidence the employer has in your knowledge of skills.  

In terms of the soft skills, are you the right fit for the company and culture?

 There are hundreds of people qualified for any one position but what it comes down to in the end is how you are a fit for their company.  This is where the soft skills are important.  At the mentoring event, I sensed that it was the soft skills that some of these people lacked.  To me, the soft skills are how you interact with others, how do you make other people feel, and your image you project to others.  

 Some people may view going to work is just a job, the extent of your job is to just get your tasks done, and then go home.  It is fine to have this line of thinking, but to really move on ahead in the career path, what is necessary is the human relationships you build with others.  If you want to lead a team one day, having the social skills is important.   

 At an interview, it is hard to display how you are a fit for the company culture because you won't know what it is.  Likewise, the interviewer doesn’t know you personally to judge how you are a fit either.  So, the best way they can judge is by asking you questions related to how you work in a team and how you interact with others.  In this case, try to give examples where you displayed teamwork in the past.  Do not tell people how everyone around you was useless and you came in to fix the problem.  This can be interpreted as you believe you are too smart for everyone around you.  

 There isn’t a right or wrong answer for this question.  The only best way to prepare for this is to think of examples where you worked well with other colleagues, and times when you did not work well.  Your responses to these questions will definitely give hints to the employer on the type of person you are.

How well do you work with your future boss?

Believe it or not, your future boss who is interviewing you may be just as nervous as you are. They want to make the right decision in hiring the right person, because hiring the wrong candidate will cause future headaches for them.  There is a reason why almost all employers prefer to hire people through word of mouth or through personal connections.  Employers would prefer not to hire someone they are not that familiar with.  

Another advice is try not to be intimidated.  I always view face to face interviews as an opportunity for them to not only get to know me but also for me to know them.  This is similar to a date where I want to judge whether they are a good fit for me.  Don’t forget, although there is a host of candidates they have lined up for an interview, you are also looking for the right fit for yourself.

Your body language is very important here.  Try to appear relaxed from the second you step into the interview room.  Look at the person in the eye to show they have your undivided attention.  Smile and nod your head to show you understand.  

 In most situations, be prepared that your future boss will ask you personal questions to get a feel for the type of person you are.  I have had interviews where the interviewer ask me personal questions regarding my family or a random topic such as my university’s football team.  I find that revealing some personal details about yourself helps to establish a bit of rapport with the employer, especially when you discover you have similar interests with them.  However, you do not have to be overly personal, there are certain topics that are off limits such as political and religious beliefs.  

 Lastly, when the interviewer asks if you have any questions.  Do ask questions about the role and how your future boss manages people.  This reveals to the interviewer that you care about the role and you have done your research about the company.  


Doing well at an interview is not an easy task.  No matter how much time you spend preparing, it all comes down to the first impression, and how quickly you can think on your feet in responding to questions.  

If in the end,  you discover you are not the right candidate and they have moved on to someone else.  It is fair for you to ask what you did wrong and how you can improve for next time.  You are not asking for a second chance, you just want to know how your interview went so for next time, you can better prepare.  

 My last advice, don’t give up.  It is a tough market out there but persistence is key.  

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”

- Julie Andrews