6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before an Interview

A lot of people ask me whether they are ready for their interviews.

Quite honestly, if you are uncertain about this question, you are most likely not ready for your upcoming interviews.

To help you be more aware of yourself and avoid being overconfident, the interview preparation tip today is to give you 6 questions that you’d better ask yourself before an interview in order to be more certain about whether you are ready.

Question #1 – Are you familiar with the interview style and process?

As is known to all, different companies may have totally different interview styles and processes. So it’s very important that you have done enough research about your target company.

For instance, most big companies like Google, Facebook will have 2-3 phone screens before 4-5 on-site interviews. Interviews are very general and will mostly focus on data structure and algorithms.

However for some other companies, they may have group interviews, or project-based interview, which are very different from the general ones.

In addition, some companies really care about your code so that you are expected to write quite a lot code on a whiteboard, others may focus more on communication and analysis.

So being more aware of your target company can make a huge difference.

Question #2 – Have you practiced with questions from past interviews?

The prerequisite of this question is that have you been very familiar with basic knowledge like data structure and algorithm?

If the answer is no, then you’d better go back and prepare well for that. There’s no way to skip this step.

Getting back to this question, it’s highly recommended to practice with questions from past interviews of your target company.

Actually there are quite a lot online resources that allow you to get this information, just Google “XXX interview questions” or check Glassdoor, you might be surprised by how many leaked questions are there.

A common misunderstanding is that some people do this in hopes of being asked the same question during the interview. However, it’s not likely to happen although it’s possible.

The real point here is to get familiar with what types of questions are asked. It’s just like preparing an exam by practicing with questions from last year.  Also at the same time, you should have a very clear idea whether you are ready for it.

If you cannot solve 60% of the questions, I would say you are not likely to pass the interview honestly.

70% – 80% probably is on the edge as you should take many other factors into consideration like you might be nervous during the interview.

Question #3 – Do you know a lot about the company?

One of the reasons that people failed the interview is that they didn’t show enough passion about the job.

More specifically, as an interviewer, I won’t hire someone who isn’t familiar about our company and product even if he’s very outstanding in technical skills.

Interview is kind of like dating in this sense as not only will you evaluate one’s skill sets, but also find someone resonates with you and you’d like to work with for a long while.

So if you are targeting a company, do make sure you are at least familiar with the following:

  • What the company is mainly about
  • What is its business model
  • What are its competitors and their weakness and strengths
  • What are its tech stack
  • What is its company culture

Question #4 – Have you practiced with a mock interview?

Do you know that more than 90% of people failed their first job interview?

It’s not hard to explain this. People tend to fail when it’s the first time for them to do something and in fact we get improved by practicing and gaining experiences.

If you don’t have much prior interview experiences, you may not be comfortable with an interview as it’s so different from solving a problem by yourself since someone is looking over your shoulder while you are solving problems and intense discussion is required.

You might be nervous or too exciting and may fail even the simplest question that you can solve within few minutes by yourself. Also, a lot of people are not accustomed to think in front of someone else as they feel distracted.

There are quite a lot solutions:

  • You can apply for a bunch of companies and interview your dream company in the end. The advantage of this is that you can experience interviews from a lot of companies and try to get adapt to the intense atmosphere. However, you won’t be able to get any authentic feedback as interviewers will always tell you that you did a great job even if you screwed up. In addition, it’s very time consuming to have lots of on-site interviews.
  • You can ask your friend to do a mock interview with you. It’ll be great if your friend is an experienced engineer so that he can have a lot of feedbacks for you. But do make sure that you guys take it very seriously, otherwise you won’t experience the same level of nerve.
  • You can have a mock interview from Gainlo, which allows you to have mock interviews with experienced interviewers from Google, Amazon etc..

Question #5 – Do you have any questions to ask the interviewer?

In our previous post Questions to Ask At The End of an Interview, we talked about how to impress your interviewer by asking good questions.

Basically, this approach is a low hanging fruit that might make you standing out to some extent but doesn’t require a lot of time to prepare.

The golden rule is always to do enough research and investigation about the company before coming up with any question. It’s odd to ask questions that can be easily found online like which languages are used in Google.

However, if you are really interested in your target company, it shouldn’t be hard to come up with good questions. You can consider the following aspects if you don’t anything in your mind:

  • Company culture
  • Product
  • Technical stack
  • Company workflow

Question #6 – Do you prepare well for your self-introduction?

It’s extremely common to be asked to introduce yourself in the beginning of an interview. So it’s always recommended to prepare this well.

Of course there’s no standard answer to this question, but you still need to avoid the following common pitfalls:

  • Introduction is too long. Usually, the interviewer will expect you to introduce briefly within a minute and if he’s interested in any specific areas, he will further discuss with you. However, some people are too eager to show why he’s capable of this job and keep talking about himself constantly.
  • Too many details. Remember that what the interviewer needs is just a brief introduction that can help him better understand your background. Many people assume that interviewers have already read their resumes, which is not always true. When I interview someone, I don’t really care about resumes as people tend to exaggerate their impact. So only focus on high-level stuffs about yourself and don’t involve too many details.
  • Too specific. Interviewers may have no idea about your past experience, so never assume that they know everything. In other words, your introduction should be easy to understand for people have no prior experience with your past projects.


The golden rule is always to do enough homework before your interview.

These 6 questions are both some interview preparation tips and a checklist for you to make sure you are really ready for your interview.

The post is written by Gainlo - a platform that allows you to have mock interviews with employees from Google, Amazon etc..

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