Preparing for your Next Job Interview

In the words of my favorite TV character, Sophia Petrillo (I suggest you read this in her voice):

“Picture it”. You just got a call for an interview for what seems like your dream job. Congratulations!

But that’s only the beginning.

Interviews await and you need to be prepared.

Interview prep can be one of the most challenging parts of the job searching process, and many candidates don’t know where to begin.

Some wing it – they think they are a pro.

Some fret over it for days.

But with a little prep, and a plan, you can be ready to ace any interview.

If you read nothing else, read the next 2 points – they WILL set you apart in the interview process.

What’s your story?

  • Craft a BRIEF (1-2 minute) pitch that gets the interviewer engaged to hear your story.
    • Tell me about yourself is not an invitation to ramble on about yourself. Nor is it the time for you to get tongue-tied
      • Who are you and what do you do?
        • What makes you get out of bed in the morning and gets your excited? This can be a combination of personal and professional.
        • Make them want to hear more. Share interesting achievements or something exciting you are working on.
        • Demonstrate your traits and skills and how they connect to the company’s values and goals of the position.
        • Cater to your audience and what you want them to remember about you. Don’t be average.
      • Remember how you DELIVER your pitch is as important as WHAT you are saying. Be confident.. Remember your body language.
      • Practice your pitch!

Be a S.T.A.R.

The STAR Method can help you be prepared for any behavioral interview questions. And if you have done your homework, you can use the same situation to answer a number of different interview questions in different ways. Hands down this is one of the easiest ways to assure you will stand out and be structured in your responses.

  • Situation: Describe the specific situation, problem or event that you faced in a current or past role. Provide enough detail for the interviewer to easily understand, but don’t share more detail than necessary and lose them in the process.
  • Task: What was the end goal you were working towards?
  • Action: Describe the actions that you specifically took. Even if it was a team activity, share that, but focus on your particular contribution.
  • Result: What was the outcome? This is where you can really stand out. Be confident in talking about your personal successes. And if the outcome wasn’t what was intended, share why. Did you course-correct? What steps did you take?

Prepare three different stories based on above guidelines and you will be prepared for any type of behavioral interview questions you may get.

Personal narratives capture your audience and will make you memorable.

Research is your friend

  • We know you are busy, and you may well be interviewing for several roles. But doing some research may be the difference between the role going to you vs. another candidate. Here’s a simple approach to be sure you have done your background research but are still managing your time.
    • The employer:
      • Check out the company website, social media and do a recent news search. Did the company just announce a new charitable or DEIB initiative?
    • The role:
      • Read the job description carefully and prepare some responses specific to your experience. The JD can provide great insights into what matters most to the employer. Think about the end game of the job responsibilities: drive more qualified leads? Lower CAC? New product launch on the horizon? Tailoring your answers to their business issues takes you a step further than talking just about your skills.
    • The interviewers:
      • Study their LinkedIn profiles, look at the About Us section of their website.
      • Review their social media – companies often spotlight employees .
      • Ask your recruiter if there is anything specific they can share about the interview style- that simple question can give you significant insight into what to expect and how to handle the conversation.

Curiosity did not kill the cat!

  • Plan to ask questions. Quality over quantity of course. But having no questions is a sure way to make yourself look unprepared or disinterested.
    • Ask questions about the role, the business, what business challenges they are facing and how this role can help.
    • Active listening gets noticed in interviews. Build off the conversation.
    • Take notes – this demonstrates you are paying attention and engaged.
  • Here are some interview question thought starters:
    • What is your impression of the team’s success right now?
    • If you could snap your fingers and do one thing that would impact your success/happiness within the team over the next 3-6 months, what would it be?
    • How would you describe the team’s leadership style?
    • How does this company compare as an organization to other places you have worked?
    • What keeps you up at night about work?
    • What makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning when it comes to work?

The best laid plans…

We’ve all interviewed. We’ve crushed interviews, we’ve flopped, we’ve crushed it when we thought we’ve flopped, and everything in between. You might get a question that throws you off and you think you blew it. You can get back on track!

I’ll leave you with this bit of advice from our own Kristen Kerouac: “This comes straight from my martial arts days. In order to be able to get your hand through the piece of wood or cement block, you couldn’t think about hitting it. Rather, you had to picture your hand going through it, and that’s when you were successful. When going into an interview, think of yourself already getting through it and making it to the next step. You can do it!”