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Interviewing 101: The Prep, Pitch, Play-by-Play, & The Post Plan

No matter how far you are in your career, entry-level, mid-level, and even senior-level professionals still find difficulty in preparing for interviews. The reality is, many of us still experience the “pre-interview” jitters. Nervousness can impact even the most experienced employees, so we’re here to teach you how to take your interviewing skills from ‘poo’ to ‘pro’

But first, let’s dig into what happens before, during, and after the interviewing process.

Step 1: ‘The Pitch’

Securing an interview is the first step, and this can be done by placing effort in crafting a detailed resume, an informative and passionate cover letter, and strengthening what’s listed on these documents with visual samples of the projects or work you’ve done by packaging it all in a clean, organized portfolio.

Remember, when crafting all of these documents, be sure to inform recruiters of the following:

  • What you did and why it matters.

  • What did you plan to achieve?

  • What were the results and how did it make you feel?

Highlight your value in your resume, then be sure that your cover letter tells a story!

Step 2: ‘The Prep’

Once you’ve secured the interview, there's more work to be done to focus on your pitch and prep, and RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!

Include these items in your interview prep:

  • Interview Prep Sheet

  • Include the name of the position, salary offer, date, and time of the interview

  • Name(s) of the who will be interviewing you and their title

  • Copy/paste the job description for quick reference

  • Pull valuable information from your resume that directly relates to each ask in the job description

  • Research the Company

At minimum, go into the interview knowing what kind of company you're interviewing with. Search basic information such as the company’s industry, history, and recent projects they’ve done, and look at the content they have shared on their social media handles.

Strengthen your interest by choosing a specific project or campaign that you really loved that the company worked on. If any of the work you’ve done relates to anything the company has worked on, include in your prep to build rapport with the recruiter to impress them.

  • Prepare a list of question you may be asked and questions you want to ask

There are so many questions that recruiters will ask to challenge you and get to understand how you solve problems and how you think. Instead of asking the most common questions like ‘what does this job pay?’ and ‘How can I grow in the company’, ask questions that show you really are interested in the work listed in the job description.

Many companies use behavioral interviewing techniques, which means you should prepare to tell a story and provide examples in case recruiters want to learn more about your experience.

Examples of Situational Questions are:

  • Describe a situation where you saw a problem and took steps to fix it?

  • Tell me about a time you had to collaborate with a coworker who was tough to please.

  • Tell me about a time you had to work with an important customer or a difficult manager.

When preparing your answers, use the following format to help guide you to your answers:

Situation / Action / Result

Always turn a negative situation into a positive one and emphasize how you solved the problem and what the outcome was.

Ask questions that show the recruiter you can about solving the problem. Here are some examples below:

  • What current software or programs does the company use to complete tasks in this role?

  • What strategies have worked for the company that has increased cliente in the past?

  • Are there any new trends the company is planning to implement in the overall strategy?

  • How is feedback or performance reviews given to employees when they are successful and are there any resources provided to employees when expectations are not met that will allow the employee to grow and improve?

Step 3: ‘The Play-by-Play ’

After ‘The Prep’ stage is completed, be sure to review and practice your answers. Now, let’s put the plan into action with ‘Play-by-Play’ execution.

On the day of the interview, reach out to the recruiter via email at least 30 minutes before to inform them that you look forward to speaking with them shortly. Always dress for success, sit in a place with great lighting and test out your phone service, video, or audio if the interview is virtual. If the interview is in person, always arrive at least 15 minutes early and print out copies of your resume, talking points, and samples of your work and package in a portable portfolio.

Begin the interview with a smile and BRING THE ENERGY. The first impression is everything and being excited about speaking with the recruiter excites them as well. Energy is contagious.

Summarize your experience by providing the interviewer with an introduction into who you are. Begin with an icebreaker and tell the recruiter something interesting about yourself. Give yourself a fun nickname like “The Fairy Godmother of Government Policy’ or ‘The Digital Marketing Maven’.

Relax and be yourself. Job seekers can sometimes get into the habit of coming off as ‘robotic’ because of the amount of interviews they’ve had. Be personable and genuine. The interview is a shared experience between two people, not two computers.

Step 4: ‘The Post Plan’

When you’ve reached this point, take a deep breath. The interview is now over, but the work is not. Always, always, always follow up with a thank you message and send it to the recruiter. Get creative so it's memorable. We’ve heard about handwriting letters to recruiters that have been extremely successful; however, in the state of covid-19, get creative and think of sending a thank you video to the recruiter. Follow up with the recruiter within a week for updates.

Remember, the best plan of action to ensure that you ace the interview, is to have a plan of action.

Connect with CJE Career Consulting for your ‘Interview Coaching’ session here!

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