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I hope this question is not too subjective (as I was told while composing the question).

This question might appear to be an odd one, I suppose. So some background info: I recently had a phone interview for a researcher position. The interviewer was not an HR person but the person who I would actually work for, if I were hired. I got the interview because my friend forwarded my resume to someone within the company that he knew.

While I know the general things that the company does, I do not know anything specific. Digging online did not give me any useful info, because none of the job openings posted online seemed remotely related to my expertise.

During the phone interviewer, the interviewer asked me questions about my background. I also asked him about the specific responsibilities of this position he was trying to fill. His response was a really vague and general, and he said that based on my resume, I could potentially offer something more than the other people whose resumes he had read.

Towards the end of the phone call, he said he would invite me for an onsite interview.

Now I haven't been contacted about the onsite interview yet (the phone interview happened less than a week ago), but I am curious as to how I can even prepare for this kind of interview given the lack of information.

  • I did ask actually. He did not know what was going on. The person he knew within the company was not that close to him (acquaintance-ish), so I don't feel comfortable asking my friend to bother his acquaintance again - I feel that his acquaintance already went out of his way by sending my resume to someone/ – saccades Feb 24 '14 at 19:33
  • as you are getting in the answers, Research research research. I have been for interviews where I have spent days researching stuff – Marriott81 Feb 25 '14 at 10:47
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You are on the right track researching what the company does. That is where I would begin. Unfortunately it can be hard to prepare for these things, and if he was being vague that may mean one of 2 things

1) The company knows it needs man power but they are still in the project planing phase so they dont know exactly what they are going to stick you on.

2) You will be doing a wide variety of tasks and to cover them selves they put vague labels on jobs so they can have you do a variety of things

The best thing to do is to read up on common interview questions for the job type and prepare to be asked anything. I have both asked and been asked questions that are super specific to the job as well as "what I like to do for fun". The best advice is to be ready for any and everything. If you know your field of study well then you will be fine.

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It is just like any other interview. You should research what the company does on the whole. You should be able to find something about them online: when they started; who their customer base is; the industry they serve; etc. You will probably be able to find out a significant amount about their financials (depending on the country and whether or not it is publicly traded).

The interview is a two way street. You are there to find out more about them while they are finding out more about you. Look for any opportunity to explore during the interview. It will show enthusiasm.

You could ask your friend for details about the company. What kind of workplace it is. How strict are they about dress code? What are the hours? Are the hours flexible? He can be a wealth of information.

Ask your friend if he knows anyone in the department of the hiring manager. See if you can get some of their time to ask them questions too. Be up front about what you are doing. You might make a new friend in the process.

I wouldn't worry about the hiring manager being vague. It sounds like he called you. That means that he is at least interested enough to talk with you. Think about how many resumes/CVs that he had to have bypassed for a poor fit.

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