Landed an interview? Ask what to expect so you can prepare smartly.

You landed an interview!? Congratulations! That means you are doing something right!

Hopefully, when you were invited, the recruiter told you what to expect, so you know how to prepare. But very often, this is not the case. For example, you may not know with whom you will be speaking or whether it will be a screening, behavioral, or technical interview. If you prepare for all of the above, you could waste valuable time and get behind on your coursework.

So what do you do when you need more information? The answer is simple, just ask. 

If you are scared to ask, do not fret. First, you’re not alone… many are afraid it will look bad. But hiring managers are on your side, hoping you will succeed! Plus, imagine you are at a job and given a project without parameters; you have no idea what the expectations are. The right thing to do is ask. The same common sense applies here. When you respectfully ask what to expect before a project, you can show that you are proactive and have good communication skills.

So what exactly do you ask? Here are some tips from an article called ‘Tactical Questions You Should Ask the Recruiter to Ace Your Phone Interview‘ on Note: despite the title, these are questions you can ask before any interview, not just phone screens.

You might ask 2-3 of these types of questions, but maybe not more since recruiters are busy:

  1. With whom will I be speaking? The answer to this will help you research your interviewers and think about the kinds of questions you are likely to be asked.
  2. What style of an interview can I expect? You should know if it will be a behavioral, technical, or informal phone screen so you can best prepare. 
  3. What will the interview focus on? Knowing possible discussion topics may help you understand what they want you to talk about.
  4. Is there anything else you think I should be prepared to talk about? This catch-all question may uncover tips that can amplify your success during the interview!

Want more detail? Check out these resources for more ideas:

Need more support? Check out these options to meet with a coach. You can even draft your script and ask for feedback.

By Chloë Benjamin (she/her)
Chloë Benjamin (she/her) Assistant Director, Engineering Master's Career Services and Professional Development