So you’ve got a big interview coming up? You don’t want to go in cold. You may think you know everything there is to know about the job just from the posting, but from the hiring manager’s perspective, the differences between people who have taken time to prepare and those who shrugged it off is stark. An interviewer will always be impressed by someone who prepared, primarily because not preparing when the task at hand is really important to you (i.e. getting a job) shows that you're unlikely to prepare for tasks at work that might be less meaningful to you down the line, once you're settled into the job. Here are our three most valuable interview preparation tips:
1. Figure out the logistics. In pre-COVID days, this meant selecting an outfit, considering traffic, and making sure you showed up on time (i.e. ten minutes early) for an interview. But now, most interviews are happening virtually (at least initially). So yes, you still need to choose a professional top that will look good on camera, and it's a good idea to dress well head-to-toe in case of a Zoom fail or simply to feel confident. You also need to find a quiet spot with good lighting and a minimalist background and test your connection on the interview software before the interview. Sure, we all know technological challenges happen, but don’t let this be the thing that causes you to get flustered during an interview.
2. Prepare your interview answers. The “tell me about yourself” question is definitely going to get thrown at you in some form or another, so make sure you’ve come up with an elevator pitch that explains who you are and why you’re applying for this particular job. While there are other common interview questions, you never really know what else your interviewer will ask, or how they'll phrase it. A good way to mitigate surprises is to spend some time thinking about your answers, instead of the questions. We recommend making a list of your proudest achievements and the most notable projects you’ve completed. Under each, flag what the biggest challenges were, what you enjoyed most about them, what skills you used that helped the projects become successful, and what kind of impact they had on the company. Most likely, the things you list will have required a range of skills, and likely some of them will be your biggest strengths. But you also may have learned how to deal with a difficult situation, handle a mistake, collaborate with different personalities, and any other number of things that you may get asked during an interview. Review your list and talk to yourself about it so you get comfortable verbalizing your accomplishments -- you can read the list to a mirror or do a visualization exercise where you picture yourself mentoring someone down the line or being interviewed for a retrospective on your amazing career. The key is to answer these questions confidently and with specific examples, describing anecdotes in detail instead of just saying “oh yes, I’m very organized because I managed a phone sheet” or “I’m a good communicator because I communicated with many people every day.” Plus, a bonus to making this list is that you can revisit it any time you need a confidence booster!
3. Research the company. We’ve said this many times before, but employers want to hire employees who are passionate about the company. This is why it’s imperative that you research the company’s history and projects ahead of time. You may be asked about them in an interview, but even if you aren’t, you can show interest in the role by formulating very specific questions for the end of your interview that someone who wasn’t as invested wouldn’t know to ask. You should also research the people you will be meeting with, which is especially important at smaller companies that may have less of an online presence. If there's a natural opportunity, you can tee up a personal connection you may have to the interviewer. Don't get too personal though -- they're still a stranger! Think: you went to the same undergrad, grew up in the same hometown, worked with the same colleague back in the day. Keep mind, all this research is as much for you to make a good impression on them as it is for them to make a good impression on you. If you come across something questionable in your research, it's important that you find a way to ask about it before accepting an offer; job interviews are a two-way street to make sure the job is a real fit.
Beyond that, get a good night’s sleep, and be yourself! By following these tips, you’re already way ahead of the game!
Interview Coaching Session
A virtual mock interview.
Professionals of all levels with an upcoming job interview or who want to fine tune their interview skills may benefit from an interview coaching session.
You'll send us a job posting that interests you and some background about what you're hoping to gain from this interview -- is it your first job interview (in the industry or ever?), or are you consistently losing out on jobs during the interview phase? You'll then schedule a time to meet with one of us for a mock interview (on Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts), and we'll provide constructive feedback. We've designed the mock interview to mirror a "real" one and expect you to show up prepared and attired the way you would for an actual interview. This service also includes an interview preparation packet that we will share electronically in advance of our meeting.
We offer daytime, morning, evening, and weekend time slots to accommodate your schedule. You may reschedule or cancel your interview for a full refund up to 24 hours in advance of your appointment.
You may reschedule your coaching session or cancel for a full refund up to 24 hours in advance of your appointment. Cancellations and reschedules with less than 24 hours notice are nonrefundable. Please be on time; if you arrive more than 20 minutes late for your session, with or without notice, we will cancel the session, and you can reschedule by purchasing a new coaching session.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan