How I Prepare for Interviews (Before, After, and During)
Recently I've been busy applying and interviewing for jobs. When I first started my job searching process I struggled with the interviews. I was unprepared and jumbled my words. After the first few interviews I took a step back and analyzed my interviewing style. I realized I needed to overhaul my interview strategy. Below are the different strategies I use during the different stages of interviews: before an interview, during an interview, and after an interview. Also, I'll only be talking about what I do for behavioral interviews. I have another process for technical interviews/take-home assessments. I will dive into that in another article.
Note: I'm not a hiring manager nor do I have experience as such. These are strategies I've learned through browsing on LinkedIn and suggestions given to me by my connections.
Below are techniques I use before the interview. Some of these you should do before applying for the job. Like researching the company and looking at the job post. But because the time between applying and interviewing may be long, you should re-research the company.
Research the company - Look at what they've done recently (articles), view their social media profiles, view the website. If I know someone at the company I also like to have a chat with them about their experience working there.
Review the job post - What is the job description, the responsibilities, job title. Also if there is a salary range I review that. Through my own research I've established a salary range with my level of education/experience.
Practice answering common interview questions - I like to use the STAR method for this, especially for common behavioral questions like: "tell me about yourself", "why are you interested in working for this company?", and "what are your greatest strengths?".
Have questions to ask at the end - I have a list of general questions I ask for every company and specific ones based on my research. Here's a list of 57 questions to ask from the Muse.
Next is what I do during the interview. There are a few key things I like to remember: stay calm, listen to the interviewer/s, and you're also interviewing them as well (see if this is a company you want to work for).
Take notes - I personally take notes during the interview. I write down the questions they ask and my responses. It helps me recall information in case there's a follow up interview. And it's useful for after the interview, more on that in the "After" section. You can view how I take notes in my LinkedIn Post.
Listen to the interviewer/s - First because it's polite. But second I like to use information the interviewer gives in my answer. For instance if they mention juggling a lot of projects, I can mention how I efficiently manage multiple projects and deadlines at my last job. Also, it's good to know how the company/interviewer answers your questions. Pay attention to how they talk about the company. Remember interviews are a two way street. They are getting to know you while you're also getting to know them.
Build rapport - If you have all/most of the technical skills then another key part of interviews is showcasing your soft skills. Generally speaking, most people hire people they want to work with. Building rapport and getting to know your interviewer helps. One way I practice my conversational skills is having coffee chats.
Emphasize on what you can bring to the company - Remember the company is looking to hire a person to solve a problem. I like to talk about how I can use my skills to help them with their mission or next project. It can be about my technical skills like SQL or about my soft skills like communication.
After the interview I don't just sit back and wait for a response.
Reflect/review my responses - using my notes I took during the interview I analyze my answers to see if I can improve on my wording or provide a better example.
Keep in contact with your interviewer - while I understand people get busy and things happen, I also like to stay updated on the process. If the interviewer gives me a rough timeline of when they will have a decision I make note of it. Then if I haven't heard anything from them after 2-3 business days past that deadline, I contact them. This is a general guideline and circumstances may vary.
Thank the interviewer for their time - regardless if I got the job (or not) I always like to send a thank you email. It's usually quite short and thanks them for their time and the opportunity to interview with the company.
Continue doing what I was doing- even if I feel like I did well in an interview I don't completely stop the job process to wait to hear back. I continue upskilling, practice my interviewing skills, job searching and networking. Unless you sign an offer it's best to continue job searching.
That's about it. It's a lot when you think about it. But it's one way to help standout from the crowd. I've heard from a few hiring managers that once you get invited to interview, emphasize the soft skills more. Be professional, friendly, and showcase your personality. Interviews is where the hiring happens. If you have any other tips or anything else to add feel free to email me at email@example.com.