Interview Preparation To Land A Job

Getting yourself ready for your job interview will help you be more prepared for trick questions. Keep reading to find tips on how to land your next job.

How does this job fit in with your career plan?

The Real Question: How much do you really want to solve my immediate problem? What about after that?

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Bottom-line Tactic: Interview for the job, not the employer.

To answer this question well, it helps to have a little insight into the world of recruitment. Particularly, it helps to know that it can get on a recruiter’s nerves when you apply for any old job at company X simply because you want to work at company X no matter what. It’s more common than you might think—a lot of trainspotters want to get jobs on the railway, for example. They often don’t make great railway employees, for obvious reasons.

Recruiters deal primarily in jobs, not careers. Yes, a recruiter is supposed to find people good enough to get promoted and give many years of service to their employer, but the recruiter’s immediate and most important task is to find someone who can fill a specific vacancy. Therefore, there’s not much a recruiter can do with the news that you’ve always wanted to work for Ferrari or Google or Amnesty International or any other outwardly attractive employer. Similarly, too many people simply say that they want to progress “into management” without showing they know what management involves, other than more money and a bigger car.

It’s understandable to think as much about your career as your next job, but there’s a balance to be struck. Err too far on the side of thinking about your career and you will become the kind of candidate who is a daily nuisance to a recruiter. A recruiter’s advice to you, therefore, is to interview for the job, not the company.

What follows is almost everything your employer will need to hear:

I plan to do this job well enough that you’ll tell me where you want me next.

Obviously you can flesh it out by talking about your ambitions and passions, about how the role will enable you to learn and progress to the next step, but otherwise please know that this question is about testing your commitment to the employer’s immediate problem.

To put it another way, and if you’ll forgive an old joke:

A job hunter sees a sign in the window that says “Handyman Wanted.” He walks in:

I see you’re advertising a vacancy for a handyman. I’d like to apply.

Great! Do you know how to put up shelves?


Hmm—can you change a plug?


OK, well, can you paint walls?


So what makes you a handyman?

I live next door.

Give me the names of three companies you would like to work for

The Real Question: We want you here—but will you love it here? Do you understand the competitive terrain?

Top-line Tactic: Use your research to draw distinctions between the usual suspects in your industry vs the new kids on the block.

If you hear this question, it’s a good sign. The interviewer wouldn’t ask it if they weren’t concerned about your hopes and dreams. Great candidates are always thin on the ground in any industry so, when one comes along, it’s natural for an interviewer to start worrying that the competition will snap them up.

This question is not to be confused with Where else have you applied/Who else are you interviewing with? as here you’re being asked to emphasize the companies you’d choose to work for. Or at least, that’s the surface wording. In fact, the interviewer will still want to see some sign that you’re hungry for whatever the interviewer is offering. Consequently, this is not a close-your-eyes-and-dream question, despite surface appearances.

All considered, we’ve got three suggestions you could talk about:

  1. The hiring firm.
  2. The hiring firm’s closest rival.
  3. The upstart newcomer.

It never hurts to say that you’d be prepared to work for the interviewer’s closest rival (note “prepared,” not “super-keen”). That will be evidence of a consistently applied career plan, but more importantly it will get the interviewer’s adrenaline going and underscore that you’re not going to be on the market forever.

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