Interview Preparation

Why interview preparation?

Every Experience Education program includes individual interview preparation. Interview prep is always done with a member of our student services team and must be done before we can begin contacting companies for you. Interview prep is the last stage of our student services process and it is a stage that you must pass successfully in order to move on. Few EE programs come with an unlimited number of interviews. For most students there is a hard cap on the total number of interview opportunities they will receive. Because of this, we need to make sure that every student is as prepared as we can reasonably make them, for their interview - so that they will have a real chance of success at each interview they attend.


Scheduling your interview preparation session

Interview preparation is scheduled after resume preparation is completed. It is up to you to schedule your interview preparation session. As you get closer to the start of your work term, Experience Education will email you a link to our interview scheduling page (below). Please use that link to schedule your interview as soon as possible. It is important that you attend your session. If you re-schedule or cancel, or don’t show up at your practice session 3 times, you will forfeit your chance to do interview preparation.


After interview preparation

Once your interview preparation is done, you will receive an email from EE student services, providing you with detailed feedback on your interview performance. Please study this carefully, and follow any suggestions as best you can. Our goal is to make sure you are successful at your interviews. After you receive your feedback email, you will receive a message from your practicum, or co-op coordinator, letting you know that you have entered the placement queue. On average, most students interview 3 weeks after entering the placement queue.

Schedule an Interview Practice Session

Use the calendar below to schedule your interview preparation session. This page is for current Experience Education students only.


Interview Notice

 

When your interview is arranged, Experience Education will send you an email giving you details of the placement you are interviewing for, the date, the time, the name of the interviewer, directions – and finally the web address.  If you do not check your email regularly - including your spam filter - you may miss your interview, and lose out on one of your interview opportunities, so please be sure to check twice a day.

When you do receive interview notice, it will look something like this:

Sample Interview Notice

 

Hello Elizabeth,

How are you? I am writing to let you know that you will have an interview this Friday, May 14th at 2:30pm.  The interview will be with a company called Ersatz DW Co.  Ersatz DW is located in downtown Vancouver on 483 Granville Street.  Your interviewer’s name is Charlie – he is the company president.

You will be interviewing for an internship in graphic design.  You will help create logos on Adobe Illustrator based on artist drawings.  You will assist with the creation of posters and brochures, and you will edit the work of more senior designers.  You will work under close supervision of a graphic designer named Lola.

Before the interview, we want you to research the company very carefully.  Please visit www.ersatzdw.web.bc .  Make sure you understand who the company’s key products, who their customers are, how they make money, and how long they have been operating.

Here are the key points for your interview:

  • Interview Date: Friday 14 March

  • Interview Time: 2:30pm

  • Host Company: Ersatz DW Co. (www.ersatzdw.web.bc)

  • Interviewer Name: Charlie (nb: Lola may also attend)

  • Position: Graphic Design Intern

Please email me to confirm that you have received this.

Best regards,

John Smith, Practicum Coordinator

 

You will probably get this email 2 or 3 days before the actual interview (though it can be as little as a day in some cases).  Please use this time to research the host company website.  It will be important for you later.  A lot of the interview questions require that you know something about the company. 

Please note that at the end of the interview notice, the coordinator asks you to confirm that you have received the notice. If you do not confirm by phone or email, the coordinator may need to cancel your notice or give your slot to another person. Before doing this, they will try and call you - if you do not answer, and do not have voicemail, you will likely miss out on your interview.

Reviewing Your Interview Notice

Please check the notice carefully. Our coordinators do their best to ensure your interview is a match for your preferred fields, however sometimes you may feel that an interview being offered to you isn’t really in your field after all. If this is the case, let the coordinator know right away, so you can discuss it. Sometimes you may find, once you receive more information, that it is a good interview, sometimes you may find that it isn’t and so the interview will be cancelled.

If there is any reason you can’t attend, please tell your coordinator - the earlier you tell them, the easier it is for them to re-schedule. If your program has a maximum number of interview opportunities to attend, a missed interview will count as one of those opportunities.

 

 Interview Questions

Question: Tell me about yourself

Explanation

This is an icebreaker.  It’s meant to make you feel at ease, and it’s a good way to gauge how the rest of the interview will go.  You have a lot of control at this point.  Exude friendliness and the host will pick up on that and proceed accordingly.  Seem flippant or strict in your answer and the host will be put off for the rest of the interview. 

Sample Answer

I came to Vancouver 6 months ago to improve my English. Back in Brazil I work as a private banker, but I’d like to move up in my company – and to do that I need to improve my English.  I’ve always heard that Vancouver is a beautiful and friendly place, so I decided to come here to learn English and to do an internship.  I’m a hardworking person, back home I work long hours, but still I also am the captain of my local soccer team and I help out as a volunteer at a youth centre on the weekends.  I studied finance and economics and I love this industry.  I like to work in teams, but I can also well work on my own too.  During my internship I really hope to learn more about business culture and to learn more vocabulary for my job.


Question: What do you know about our company?

Explanation

We hope you’ve done your research, because it will matter here.  There is a 100% chance your host company will ask this question.  Be specific, talk about departments or products of the company you are most interested in. 

Sample Answer

I read your website and a few blog articles about your company and I saw that you were founded in 2002 and have three offices in Canada and one in Mexico.  I saw that you are selling some products to my country.  I am interested in marketing and I really think I can help with your marketing to my country and to other new countries in South America.


Question: Do you have any questions?

Explanation

Here you can ask about dress code, company expectations, you can ask if they’ve ever had an intern before.  Whatever you ask though, please prepare your questions before the interview, and discuss them with an Experience Education counselor in advance. 

Sample QUESTIONS TO ASK

What do you expect from an intern?

Have you ever had an intern before?  What did they do that impressed you?  What did they do that you thought they should improve on?

What personality do you think fits best with your company?


Question: How do you find Vancouver?

Explanation

this means, what is your opinion of Vancouver.  It could also be asked as ‘What do you think of Vancouver?’.  Be positive.  Even if you have grown to hate the city with a burning intensity – keep it to yourself and only talk about the positive parts of being here. 

Sample Answer

I love Vancouver.  It’s such a beautiful city, I love the nature.  I’ve been kayaking and I visited Lynn Canyon and Stanley Park.  In my city we don’t have a lot of nature, so it’s amazing to be able to visit it each weekend here.  The people are very friendly and helpful too.


Question: How long have you been here in Vancouver?

Explanation

Students almost always mess up this question for some reason.  They get confused on the grammar.  The interviewer is asking about the amount of time from the date you arrived until now.  They aren’t asking about how long your total stay in Vancouver WILL be – from the date you arrived until the date in the future, when you leave (that question would be: How long will you be in Vancouver? or How long are you in Vancouver?).  And they aren’t asking about how much time you have remaining in Vancouver , i.e. from now until the date you leave (that question would be: How much time do you have left in Vancouver?).  No, the question is – how long have you been in Vancouver – and it sets up the follow up questions (numbers 4 and 5 below). 

Sample Answer

I’ve been in Vancouver for 6 months. I arrived here in September just before winter started.  It was the first time I saw snow, it was amazing.


Question: What have you been doing here in the city?

Explanation

Talk about school and your social life.  Explain how you’ve been studying hard, and how you’ve also been working outside of school to improve your English. 

Sample Answer

I’ve been studying English at a school called Zerolingua.  I studied general English and Business English and learned about vocabulary for the workplace and writing business letters and emails.  In my spare time, I’ve travelled around BC and saw the Rockies, Vancouver Island and Whistler.  I also bought a bicycle and I like to bicycle around Stanley Park.


Question: Why did you choose to come to Vancouver?

Explanation

You can answers this in two ways.  First explain why you chose to come here and improve your English, then explain why you chose to come to Vancouver – instead of some other city. 

Sample Answer

I came to Vancouver to improve my English.  I thought that I could improve my English faster in an English-speaking country like Canada.  My friend traveled to Vancouver last year and he said it was very beautiful, so I chose to come here.


Question: How did you find out about our company?

Explanation

Be honest.  Companies don’t want insincere flattery.  Your English may be good, but it probably isn’t good enough (yet) to lie convincingly at a job interview.  Tell the interviewer that your counselor at Experience Education presented the company to you.  They want to know that you’re not applying to them randomly, but have some interest in their line of work. 

Sample Answer

My agency, Experience Education, told me about your company.  They told me about some different companies and I researched them.  I thought your company was very interesting because you work in the same industry I did when I was back in my country.


Question: What do you think you can do for us at ‘Company Name’? What do you want to do here?

Explanation

This is a real question, the company wants to see what you are interested in doing at their company, what type of job duties you think you’d be best suited to and what department you want to fit in to.  There are two ways to answer this question incorrectly: you could either say ‘it doesn’t matter, I can do any kind of work’, or you could say: ‘I am a manager in my country, so I expect to work in a job at the same level here’. 

Sample Answer

I am a very flexible person.  In my working life I have done a lot of different jobs like receptionist, bookkeeping, human resources and sales.  I am very interested in your marketing department.  I studied marketing as part of my MBA and I would like to put that to use.  I am able to write marketing plans, contact new customers and evaluate and refine the success of marketing plans to these new customers.  I know how to use graphic design computer programs and so I am able to create advertisements on the internet and for print and I can also communicate with suppliers and work with team members to sell new products.


Question: What is your internship goal? Why are you doing this internship? 

Explanation

This is one of the first questions Experience Education staff ask you when they meet you – and it’s one of the first questions interviewers will ask you as well.  They want to know what you hope to achieve by doing an internship with their company, here in Vancouver.  Talk about specific immediate achievements, and not long term effects. 

Sample Answer

My job back in my country requires us to communicate with our American office a lot and I want to have more confidence in doing that.  So my first objective here is to improve my English.  I want to talk more on the telephone and become more confident writing business letters and emails.  I hope to learn more about Canadian ways of consumer marketing and I want to see about web marketing as well.


Question: What is your dream internship? 

Explanation

Refer back to your internship goals with this question.  Talk about what you want to achieve on your internship, daily duties you would be happy doing, a project you would be interested in, and the social environment you are looking for. 

Sample Answer

My dream internship would be at a company like this one of course.  I want to work as a marketing assistant, with a supervisor who can show me new online marketing techniques, I want to have the chance to help them and also to create and run my own marketing project to sell your new product in Chile.  I hope to be in a company where the coworkers are friendly and everyone talks to each other and helps each other.


Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

Explanation

Be honest, explain what your 5 year career goal is, and then explain how you think your internship will help you achieve that goal. 

Sample Answer

In 5 years I will be back in my country and I hope to be working as a marketing manager at a consumer electronics company.  I hope to be supervising a team of marketing assistants and creating and supervising nation-wide company marketing plans.


Question: What do you plan to do after your internship finishes? 

Explanation

If you really do want to stay in Canada long term, this is the time to say that.  Otherwise, talk about what your short term career plans are once you return to your country. 

Sample Answer 1

I want to stay in Canada long term.  So after this internship finishes I hope to find a job with a company that can sponsor me to stay longer.  I am very interested in Canada, and I have always wanted to live here.  It’s a safe country and I think it will be a good place to grow my career and raise a family.  I think this internship experience will be very helpful for me when I go looking for a new job, because I will already have experience with a Canadian company and hopefully a local reference.

Sample Answer 2

I plan to travel across Canada and visit Toronto, Niagara Falls and Quebec.  After that I will go back to my country and find a new job.  I want to find a job in advertising.  I think my internship in Canada will be very helpful for me to find a job in my country.


Question: What is your dream job? 

Explanation

This is different from dream internship.  But it wouldn’t hurt to clarify it with the interviewer (i.e. ‘You mean when I return to my country?’.  In this question explain the job you hope to have within 1 year, the absolutely perfect one for you, what your responsibilities will be, and why you want to do it. 

Sample Answer

I would love to be a personal banking account manager.  I studied finance at university and I work at a bank now, in the loans department.  By I am most interested in working in personal banking.  If I had that job I would be able to recruit my own clients, and manage my client appreciation activities – it would be like having my own company.


Question: Walk me through your resume. 

Explanation

This means, discuss the content of your resume from top to bottom – don’t read it.  But instead explain it.  Talk about your opinions about your education and work, and mention key achievements wherever possible. If you can, connect your answers to the job your are interviewing for.


Question: Tell me about your Microsoft Office skills? 

Explanation

Don’t lie – they will catch you.  But also don’t be modest either.  The best approach is to give some details about what you can do with each program, rather than subjectively rating your skills. 

Sample Answer

I can use Excel very well, I know how to use formulas for adding data together and analyzing it.  I can use Outlook to make appointments and send appointment and meeting requests to my team members.  I know how to do mail merges and regular word processing with Word, and I have made many presentations in PowerPoint.


Question: Tell me about your computer skills? 

Explanation

This is similar to the MS Office interview question.  But here you can also add in other programs you know.  Don’t mention ‘internet’ as a computer skill. 

Sample Answer

I can use Excel very well, I know how to use formulas for adding data together and analyzing it.  I can use Outlook to make appointments and send appointment and meeting requests to my team members.  I know how to do mail merges and regular word processing with Word, and I have made many presentations in PowerPoint.  Besides Microsoft Office, I know how to make logos and fonts with Illustrator, and I can also edit photos and even create documents in Photoshop.  In my old job I used Illustrator and Photoshop very often to make advertisements for our company.


Question: What are your strengths? 

Explanation

This is a classic question.  And very straightforward – talk about what you are best at and give examples.  Avoid things which aren’t closely related to your working life. 

Sample Answer

I am very organized and I am good at multi-tasking.  In my old job, I was the team project leader, so my job was to take the project and break it down into smaller jobs for my team.  I coordinated all of their work and checked up on them to make sure that everything was ready on time for our client.


Question: What are your weaknesses? 

Explanation

Another classic question.  Discuss something you don’t do well, and then explain how you are dealing with it.  In some cases, you may need to give an example of when that weakness caused problems for you and how you overcame those problems.  Don’t say you’re a ‘perfectionist’ – that’s not considered to be a valid answer.  If you want to discuss language problems here, that will be ok. 

Sample Answer

I have had trouble with English writing.  I think I don’t know a lot of important vocabulary.  In my old job, I had to write business letters to our New York office and it was difficult.  That’s why I came to Canada.  I’ve been learning English for 6 months, and it has helped a lot.  I still have some difficulties, but I have a tutor 2 times per week in the evenings and they help me to improve my writing.


Follow-up Questions

One thing to remember about each of these questions.  For every one of them, there are potential follow up questions.   For example, look at the model answer for question 1 – pay particular attention to the bolded text:

I came to Vancouver 6 months ago to improve my English. Back in Brazil I work as a private banker, but I’d like to move up in my company – and to do that I need to improve my English.  I’ve always heard that Vancouver is a beautiful and friendly place, so I decided to come here to learn English and to do an internship.  I’m a hardworking person, back home I work long hours, but still I also am the captain of my local soccer team and I help out as a volunteer at a youth centre on the weekends.  I studied finance and economics and I love this industry.  I like to work in teams, but I can also well work on my own too.  During my internship I really hope to learn more about business culture and to learn more vocabulary for my job.

Interviews don’t proceed from one unrelated question to the next like some kind of test.  They flow organically, they’re more like conversations than anything else – and in a natural conversation you’d likely use that underlined text to ask a follow-up question.  for example:

  • Why did you take up volunteering? What do you do at the youth centre? What do you get out of that volunteer experience? Do you also volunteer here in Vancouver?

  • Why did you choose to study finance and economics? What did you like best about your studies? Do you plan on doing an MBA?

  • What do you love best about this industry?

And so on.

There’s not really a way to prepare for these follow up questions, other than to make sure that your answers make sense.  The best you can do is look back at your answers and ask yourself if everything in it is true and real.  For example – are you really hardworking?  Can you prove it with an example?  No?  Then don’t say you’re hardworking.  Do you really pay close attention to detail?  Can you prove that with an example?  Yes.  Great, leave it in.