Interviewing for jobs can be one of the most nerve-racking things you do in your lifetime. You are completely putting yourself out there to be evaluated and assessed by strangers. You may have a lot of financial pressure riding on the interview, and you will undoubtedly have a lot riding on it emotionally.
When we teach interviewing workshops, I always ask the group who enjoys interviewing. I’d say one in 30 raises their hand. Some people just love it. For the rest of us, it’s a necessary evil.
Why work with an interview coach
Regardless of which camp you fall in, interview coaching can be a great way to set yourself up for success. This way you can maximize your chances of securing a great offer. When you find a company you really want to work for and a role you’re truly excited about, you won’t regret investing in your preparation. You may regret it if you don’t.
ALV Coach Teague says, “Getting support in the job search process is critical – we don’t do this every day, so it makes sense that you’d bring in an expert for guidance and coaching.” She’s right! Most of us are experts in our fields of work, not in the job search process itself, and so bringing in an outside expert can help set you up for success.
Here are just some of the ways an interview coach can help you prepare for your interviews and knock them out of the park!
Understanding what they’re looking for
In order to properly prepare, you have to start by understanding what the company is looking for in the first place. The company has taken the time to evaluate the skills and experience they are looking for and has likely assembled that information in the form of a job description.
ALV Career Specialist Melanie says, “It is vital that the candidate knows the job description backwards and forwards. In their preparation, they should think of “stories” or tangible examples to share that demonstrates they meet each job qualification (or provide transferable skills).”
You coach will help you to think through what this role entails and what your interviewers will be seeking in the following areas:
- Skills – Understand the most critical skills they will be hiring for in this role.
- Experience – What experiences will they be looking for in your past? If you haven’t had that experience directly, think through similar experiences you have had where you’ve built the required skill set.
- Storyline – Is there a particular ‘why’ or ‘how’ that might be appealing to them. Maybe it’s a mission-driven company, and they will want to understand why you care about this cause or maybe they will want to know how you got to a tech company after working in government.
- Personality/culture fit – Almost every company now evaluates culture fit along with technical competence. It’s important that you work with your coach to understand what the company culture is and how you can demonstrate that you are additive to it.
How to research effectively
In our interview coaching process at Ama La Vida, we take our clients through a series of online modules to prepare for each interview and to prepare for our interview coaching session. Via these modules, we will walk you through the necessary steps to thoroughly research the company you are interviewing with.
This serves a few purposes:
- You can demonstrate knowledge in the interview that shows you’ve done your homework, and you want this job in particular.
- It can show that you’re apprised of relevant company news and industry trends.
- You can ask more meaningful questions.
- It will help you truly evaluate if this is a place you want to work.
Here are the areas of research that we guide our clients through when coaching them on interviewing:
- Company – You should have a thorough understanding of what the company does, how and where it operates and any pertinent news. ALV Career Specialist Mel says, “It is critical to do your homework on the company. You should be able to articulate why you want to work there, what makes you a match, and what unique asset you bring that aligns with the company culture. Candidates too often keep this answer on the surface. I recommend diving deep and really figuring out why you want to join that team!”
- Industry – Depending on the role, you may not need to be an industry expert, but it is important to understand the major factors at play. This will help you better understand the role and if this industry is something that excites you and will continue to excite you in the future.
- Culture – This isn’t always immediately obvious, but your coach can help you find strategic ways to gauge the true culture both during your research and during your interview itself. It’s important to understand if these are people you are excited to work with and if this is an environment where you will thrive.
- People – You should understand who the key players are and do some research on who you will be working directly with. Research your interviewers if possible.
- Process and questions – It is important to understand the company’s interview process so you’re not surprised or caught off guard. You can also do your research to understand questions that the company typically asks for this role.
Interview questions and frameworks
This is where we really get into the meat and potatoes of your interview prep. The most important thing is ensuring you are well-prepared to answer the interview questions themselves.
Still, in the research and preparation phase of our interview coaching process, we guide our clients through the following areas:
- How to respond to interview questions – We will teach you frameworks. These frameworks will help you create concise but impactful answers to behavioral interview questions. We will help you craft a storyline and articulate your “tell me about yourself” response. When coaching her clients, ALV Co-Founder and Cheif Coaching Officer Foram says, “Tell stories! Keep them short, but make sure they are vivid enough to illustrate a point. People like stories, and more importantly, they remember them. It’s a powerful method to get your point across in an engaging and memorable way.” ALV Coach Jennifer adds, “The number one area I see a lot of clients struggle in when it comes to interviewing is the inability to identify their top strengths and communicate how they will leverage them in the role. People often overlook this area because interviewers so rarely ask, “What are your strengths,” but in reality, you need to be sharing your strengths intertwined in many of the questions asked in the interview.” We want to ensure that you take this opportunity to tell your story. To showcase why, regardless of your background, you are the person for the job.
- Questions you’d like to ask them – You should absolutely have well-thought-out questions prepared to ask your interviewers. These answers are not just to demonstrate your preparation. They should be critical questions to help you evaluate if this is the role for you.
- Technical interviewing – When you research the interview process, you will learn if this company and industry typically require any sort of technical interview. For example, in consulting you may do a case interview. For a sales role, you may do a mock presentation. In some tech roles, you may do a project or exam. You can work with your coach on any additional preparation necessary for your particular interview process.
Mock interview and coaching session
Now it’s game time! You have researched and prepared thoroughly, and now it’s time to put your skills to the test. You’ll have a coaching session which includes a mock interview component so that you can practice and your coach can give you specific feedback.
When talking about her approach to the coaching session, Coach Teague says, “My role is to help you figure out what parts of your story to highlight and how to present them in a way that makes sense. I also act as your cheerleader, helping you to realize your greatness and quell some pre-interview jitters.”
In our interview coaching sessions, your coach will be evaluating your interviewing skills across six key areas:
- Professionalism – Are you put together, professional and someone I would be proud to introduce as my colleague?
- Confidence/body language/enthusiasm – Do you have strong body language, good volume, and eye contact and nervous habits under control? Do you come across as confident in your abilities and excited about the company and role?
- Personable/authentic – Do I believe what you’re saying? Do you seem like someone I want to work with?
- Knowledge of company/preparedness – Did you do your homework? Is it clear that you want to work at this company in particular and you have a working knowledge of who we are and what we do?
- Evidence-based competencies – leadership/culture – Would you fit within our culture? Are you a strong leader? Can you demonstrate through your responses proof of it?
- Evidence-based competencies – technical – Do you have the necessary skills and capabilities to be successful in this role? Can you demonstrate through your responses proof of it?
As you conduct the mock interview, your coach will be assessing your interviewing skills across these dimensions and will provide you with specific feedback.
Melanie says, “I often find that candidates get very robotic in their answers. I like to remind them that the interviewers usually want more conversation and rapport building. Candidates shouldn’t be afraid to show a little of their personality. Interviewing is a two-way street! With enough practice, candidates will build confidence which leads to a more natural, fluid interview process!”
Foram says, “I often find clients who are interviewing answering questions like they are checking the box. An interview is meant to be a dialogue and for someone to get to know you. So if you feel like they need to know something about you that hasn’t surfaced yet, don’t wait for an opportunity for the interviewer to ask you about it. Find a way to integrate that into your answers.”
Teague adds, “I often see clients with less-than-stellar habits (not directly answering a question, focusing more on the overall nature of their work VS highlighting their specific accomplishments, or not providing a logical narrative for interviewers to follow).“
Jennifer says, “Hidden in the ability to correlate your strengths to real-world situations is your unique selling proposition. If you can clearly communicate to a future employer the top strengths that make you unique and how you will leverage them in the role you will not only impress them but have a significant leg up on the competition.”
Understanding logistics and etiquette
The absolute last thing you want to do is to make a silly mistake that puts a bad taste in your interviewer’s mouth. Things like being late, looking sloppy or making a negative comment can all consciously or subconsciously impact how you are perceived.
Your coach will work with you to ensure you have all of the logistics planned for and taken care up.
- Day of planning – How will you get there? Where will you park? How will you avoid traffic issues?
- What to wear – You’ll want to try on your outfit and ensure it is both professional and unique. The last thing you want is to be heading out the door and remember you lost a button the last time you wore it. We often have our clients come to their interview coaching session dressed in their outfit for the real interview.
- How to behave onsite (and what to be careful not to do!) – You never know who is in the bathroom stall next to you or in the lobby! Your coach will help you ensure that you are acting professionally at all times!
- Follow-up procedures – Many people get hung up on exactly what to say in thank you notes if they send them at all! Your coach will guide you through the proper etiquette.
Ensuring you have a solid game plan in all of these areas not only reduces your chances of making a silly mistake, but it also reduces your stress. We want you to show up calm, confident and focused on the interview, not on the logistics surrounding it!
Building your confidence and controlling your nerves
And speaking of being calm and confident, one of the key areas your coach will support you with is building your interview confidence and managing your nerves. This can be especially challenging if you have a lot riding on this interview or if you haven’t gotten offers from your last couple interviews. We want to help you be in a positive headspace so that you can put your best foot forward.
These are a few common areas our coaches address:
- How to prepare the night before – Your coach may work with you to plan a night-before routine so that you can set yourself up for success in the morning.
- Managing nervous habits – We all have verbal or physical habits that can take hold when we are nervous. Ums. Twirling hair. Biting nails. These will surface in your mock interview, and your coach will help you strategize on how to manage them.
- Owning your strengths – This can be especially challenging for those who value humility and don’t enjoy speaking about themselves. Your coach will help you own your story and your strengths and share them in a way that is powerful and compelling but still authentic to you.
Getting started with an interview coach
As you can see, a LOT goes into interview preparation, and a coach can be an incredible ally to help you ace it. Don’t wait until the last minute to seek out this support. Find and select your interview coach now, so that when you do secure the interview, you aren’t scrambling to get your coaching session(s) scheduled. This blog post will help you evaluate various career coaches and select the one that’s right for you.
Of course, we here at Ama La Vida have a team of interview coaches standing by. The best way to get started is to fill out this form to book a free consultation with us so we can match you with the best coach on our team.
We can’t wait to work with you, help you nail the interview and land that dream job!