There are certain times in life when procrastination is perfectly acceptable, but preparing for a job interview is not one of them. I can’t tell you how many times my office receives a panicked call from someone wanting to engage in coaching just a few days before their job interview is scheduled. We almost always turn them away.
Last Minute is First Refusal
Why would I turn business away? It’s for their own good.
My theory as to why people try to wait until the last minute for interview prep is that they want it to be fresh in their minds. Interview coaching simulates a real job interview with immediate feedback, so it’s likely you are going to learn some things about yourself that you will not be able to resolve within 48 hours. In fact, a coach could uncover some things about your interview skills that could make you self-conscious and possibly even cause you to lose some confidence that could potentially negatively impact your interview.
Think of your interview like a college exam. If you try to cram in the practice it takes to become a good interviewer, there’s a good chance you could overthink everything and end up ruminating instead of progressing forward. You’ll bomb the interview just like that physics test you stayed up all night cramming for at the last minute. The last thing I want is for someone to be ill prepared for an important interview, so that’s why we turn those clients away.
Think you’re an Excellent Interviewer?
During interview coaching, you will learn skills to help relieve anxiety during interviews as well as easy ways to help you prepare. Even if you think you are a good interviewer, there are always refinements that can be made.
I recently worked with a C-level leader (we’ll call him Matthew) who knew he interviewed well but wanted confirmation from an expert. He figured even if he passed his mock interview with flying colors, it would be good additional practice. While all of his answers were technically correct, he was shocked when I suggested a few minor changes (including his Zoom background) that could improve his results. We discussed Matthew’s low level of connection with the interviewer. With some suggestions of verbiage and body language changes, he was much stronger in his personal connection. These refinements, no matter how large or small, could be the difference in someone landing the job or being passed over. After Matthew polished his interviewing skills even further, he was able to put himself out there to be considered for higher level jobs with a very good shot at getting them.
Others who haven’t had as much experience as Matthew could find that they are blind to how they answer interview questions ineffectively. That’s usually the case with someone who is never moved forward to the next interview or always advances to the final interview but aren’t offered the job. By refining your answers to the questions, you’ll have a better chance of closing that interview and getting the job.
When is the Ideal Time to Prep?
Instead of waiting until a few days before your job interview, your preparation should begin the moment you decide you are going to start the journey of looking for a new job. Ideally, job candidates should have at least three weeks to a month of practice under their belt before they embark on any interviews. I’d rather someone practice and learn with an expert, rather than experiment with the real deal. You want to bring your best self to that interview, because you have only one shot. If you don’t hit it out of the park, someone else will.
The minute you start thinking about finding a new job, you should do these five things:
- Consider whether it’s time to rebrand yourself. Personal rebranding can be necessary for both significant and subtle career changes. By defining your unique selling proposition – the traits that people will remember about you – you’ll be able to tell a story about how your history has shaped you and how you are headed in a new direction of your career.
2. Have a Certified Master Resume Writer rework your resume and LinkedIn profile. Although you may be an excellent writer, these writers are the very best in their industry because they know how to write for both humans and search engines. They keep up to date with ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) standards so that your resume always stands out.
3. Engage in interview coaching. Having someone help you improve your interview skills, both verbal and non-verbal, will give you a competitive edge. That immediate feedback can help uncover blind spots and provide support on how to respond to questions most effectively.
4. Reach out to your network. Did you know that networking is the most effective job search strategy? Research has long shown that anywhere from half to upwards of 80% of jobs are filled through networking. So, reach out to your connections and let them know you are looking for new opportunities.
5. Practice, practice, practice. Use my flashcard method for an elementary but effective way to prepare yourself for all of the possible questions that could be thrown at you during an interview.
A job interview is your opportunity to be memorable for the right reasons, so don’t wait until the last minute to prepare for it.