Being unemployed or underemployed are the most frequently noted struggles of my emerging adult clients. Their reported major pitfall? Not being able to “wow” in a job interview. They may be bright, friendly, and a perfect fit for the job, but they come across as underwhelming in the job interview. When asked what gets in their way, oftentimes, my clients report feeling anxious, overwhelmed, and/or underprepared. That’s when I know I need to employ my tried and true plan to help clients ace their job interviews.
I joke with my clients that I have this secret formula for knocking their interviews out of the park. When I explain the process to them, we laugh together (maybe there’s an eye roll from the client) because the secret is, simply put, practice, practice, practice.
My clients typically don’t have much experience with job interviews. Going through the process of a mock interview demystifies the process and makes it less overwhelming. Though, I find many people hate preparing for interviews because they become more anxious about it without the proper guidance and support.
I support my clients through a series of systematic steps, which decreases the anxiety of job interviewing:
Did you know that you can sometimes find actual interview questions that were used on the internet? It’s pretty amazing. Do some research and write down possible interview questions. Keep in mind that your list should have general, commonly asked questions as well as questions specific to job you’re applying for or the company you’re applying to.
2. Brainstorm Answers
Once you have a nice long list, brainstorm potential answers to these questions. Don’t write down verbatim what you want to say. Just put down some basic bullet points for you to try and remember. It helps to have someone look at your answers to make sure everything makes senses and that you’re not missing any key points.
3. Prepare for Pre-interview Situations
People often forget that the interview starts even before you’re in the door getting asked questions. Prepare for the little stuff like how to best communicate when scheduling the interview, how to greet the receptionist, and how to make small talk on the way to the interview room.
Practice answering the interview questions out loud, one at a time. This is where you can play around with how you want to convey the bullet points you wrote out.
5. Do a Mock Interview
When you’re comfortable answering the questions one at a time, conduct a full, videotaped mock interview with a trusted person. This can be an extremely vulnerable process, so be sure you feel comfortable with the person you practice with and that they have the needed experience to give appropriate, constructive feedback.
6. Review the Recording
You should watch the recording of your mock interview twice. Watch once to focus on just the content of your answers, and watch a second time to focus on your body language. This is also a process that’s best done with a trusted second pair of eyes. Also, remember to not only focus on the areas of improvement but to also see what you did really well.
Keep conducting taped mock interviews and reviewing the recordings until you (and your practice partner, if you have one) feel like you’re ready to ace the interview. If you’re ready far in advance of your interview, be sure to practice intermittently so you don’t lose your newfound interview skills.
This might seem like a lot of work just to prepare for one interview. I’m not going to lie— it is a lot of work. But, for most people, good things don’t just fall into their lap; you have to work for it! Which reminds me of this great quote: There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.
Did you know Dr. Crystal I. Lee has interviewed over 100 potential candidates while on hiring committees and as directors of programs? Contact Dr. Lee to get her expert support in preparing for your next job interview.