Interviews aren’t top-secret. Some employers are more than happy to share information about the interview to ensure the candidate is as comfortable as they can be throughout the interview. There can also be times where there are multiple stages, and each section may focus on a different skill or question. There can be different types of interviews within the process as well and it can be important to share this information beforehand, especially if you need to prepare something in advance. No interviewer wants to put you on the spot and to feel uncomfortable. They want you to do your best, so sharing tips and advice before the interview can be handy for both parties. This article talks through what a prep sheet is and what can be included.
What is a prep sheet?
There are different types of interviews that last different lengths. Some interviews will include all the stages in one go and others may be split into different sections across multiple sessions. You never really know what it’s going to be like unless the employer tells you. It’s their job to ensure that you are able to come prepared. It’s their responsibility to make sure they have provided all they can, for you to have the best impression and feel comfortable on the day. Prep sheets can tell you what type of interview it may be, what you need to bring and what you can do to prepare. It’s as simple as that.
What could be included on the prep sheet?
As mentioned above, the employer should be giving you all the information you need to be prepared and ready for the interview. Engineering interviews can be longer than some and potentially split into rounds. The prep sheet can be giving you information including:
The type of interview it is - There are multiple types of interviews. It could be competency based, conversational, scenario-based, technical, or even a presentation interview. Depending on the type of interview it is, you may need time in advance to prepare your presentation. Some interviews, like technical, include you solving a problem or showing them your skills during an exercise. This means you need to know how long this will take and if you know the question / scenario beforehand.
What you may be asked - Prep sheets don’t often dictate the exact questions the interviewer may ask you, but it can nudge you in the right direction. For example, the prep sheet may include a ‘you might be asked to’ section.
- Asking you to discuss what you have achieved and delivered in past roles and how this would transcribe into the role you’re applying for
- Why you want to work in this team?
- How you will continue to show development in this role and what you want to learn
These are very broad questions, but being able to prepare for these in advance can really help the nerves. It also just means you can try to be as prepared as possible ahead of the interview.
What skills they want to hear about - The job description is often loaded with skills and requirements for the role. However, the prep sheet can share some of the more important skills that the interviewer would like to discuss on the day. For example, they may want to focus on leadership, collaboration, and innovation. Examples of what may be important to that company.
Information about the employer - Where you’re expected to do a bit of research around the company and the part of the business you’re joining, they may include a bit about themselves on the prep sheet. Just to give you a bit more information about their values and what they expect from their employees. Giving you an insight into their teams and if you would be a good fit. Perfect information to use for the ‘Why should we hire you?’ interview question.
How to get in touch - It’s likely that you have a recruiter or HR person you are talking to within the business. But if not, they will usually add contact information for these contacts, so you can ask any questions you may have in advance. If you really need advice or more information, they’re a good resource to utilise.
Why would an employer share this information?
Interviews can be a lot of pressure. They can be scary for some, and employers are there to help you along this journey. Prep sheets are often used to put your mind at ease. To be able to give you a little more information about what will happen, so you’re not left in the dark to worry alone. It’s a great technique and can really help the candidates shine in an interview situation. If you think this would be useful to you, make sure you’re asking if this hasn’t been provided.
What about your own prep sheet?
If this isn’t something the employer provides, why not create your own? It’s completely normal to prepare and use your own notes and tips during an interview. A lot of people do this when they find it difficult to remember points and questions, especially when they feel like they’re being put on the spot. It can be a really handy tool to use in interviews and if you’ve never used it, you may be missing out. Here’s what you could include on your own ‘cheat’ sheet.
- Name of interviewer (if you have it)
- Key points from the job description
- Skills you want to discuss from your CV.
- Notes from your prepared question answers (not the full answer!)
- Questions you might think of before the interview.
Cheat sheets are widely used and if you do feel the nerves during interviews and find yourself being a bit forgetful, make sure you’re taking a notebook in with this info. It could really help you.
Recruitment prep sheets are there to aid you. Employers want you to do well, so if you’re given this resource, make sure you’re making the most of it. And if not, create your own!