Learn my story, tips, and resources for navigating the interview process
Listen to the full podcast episode here
We have a lot to cover today!
1st — I want to thank everyone who listened to last week’s episode and visited our 2020 services page! Thank you to everyone who shared it with your friends via social media or word of mouth! I know there was a tiny glitch on the career services inquiry page, but it is fixed! So, if you or anyone is interested in our career development services, be sure to visit our website.
2nd — If you were on our services page, you might have also seen our business development and freelance writing services. You may wonder if those business-related services are open and available, and the answer is yes! For the first quarter, I’m focusing on all my peeps trying to get started with their job search journey, so that’s what I’m promoting publicly. However, if you are interested in having a content writer for your business or need some business consulting/ project management for launching your vision and/or a product or service within your business, be sure to check out those offerings as well.
All right, enough announcements! Let’s get into today’s episode!
For this week, you definitely need to get a pen, paper, or the notes app on your phone because this episode is very dense, and there’s a lot to cover!
This week, we’re talking about navigating the interview process.
Knowing that you need to prepare for an interview is common sense.
But, many times, we still go into interviews blind because we don’t know exactly HOW to prepare.
So I want to share my resources with you to get you started!
Number ONE | Your interview prep begins when you’re writing your resume and cover letter. For your interview, prepare detailed examples of how you completed a task/activity/project related to the job description using the S.T.A.R. technique.
So as we talked about last week, as you’re thinking through your tailored resume and using key accomplishments and keywords that are directly tied to the job description, you want to jot those accomplishments down separately.
When you’re writing your cover letter that provides specific examples that tie into the job description, you want to write down those examples down and think of other examples.
Many interviewers use what’s called — targeted selection interviewing.
I’m actually certified to conduct targeted selection interviews, and essentially, it’s behavioral or example-based interviewing.
So questions will look like:
- Tell about a time when you did this….
- Tell me about a time when you had to use teamwork to get a project done
- Tell me about a time when you received negative feedback, and how did you handle it?
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult coworker or customer and how you handled it…
You’ll be asked to provide real-life examples of how you performed tasks/activities/projects, either related to the job itself or how you manage certain situations.
Even if your interviewer doesn’t explicitly use targeted selection, you still need to provide specific examples to show your real-life experience to the job description.
Now, obviously, when you’re interviewing, your timeframe is limited.
So, you don’t want to spend an entire hour telling ONE story.
So a technique you need to become familiar with when responding to interview questions is the acronym S.T.A.R.
S.T.A.R. stands for Situation — Task — Action — Result
Situation — Briefly describe the situation in 1-2 sentences.
Task — Outline the task that needed to be done.
Action — What was the action YOU took?
Result — What was the result of the situation based on your actions?
On this job, our clients have very high expectations, and it’s the job of our account managers to ensure their experience with our company is excellent. Therefore, this job can come with challenging demands. Melanie, tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult client and how you resolved the issue?
Your answer —
Situation — Provide a specific situation when you had to deal with a difficult client. Outline the problem into 2-3 sentences.
Task — What was the task laid before you to resolve the client’s issue.
Action — What action did you take to resolve the client’s complaint. Here, you want to be sure to highlight what YOU did. Not what a team member or your manager did. Highlight the ACTION STEPS you took to resolve the issue.
Result — Outline the result of how your tasks and actions resolved the situation. For example: Because of my resourcefulness, communication skills, and quality customer care, the client’s needs were met, and this was the feedback he gave me on a job well done.
Don’t take all day long, but you want to drive home how you get the job done in stressful situations. Using the S.T.A.R. technique helps do this efficiently and effectively.
Prepare for your interview by coming up with specific examples that:
- Apply to the job description
- Show how you have the fundamental skills necessary for any job:
- Leadership, Initiative, Professionalism, Quality Work, Teamwork, Attention to detail, etc.
- Prepare your answers to those questions in S.T.A.R. format (Situation, Task, Action, Result).
Again, highlight how YOU did the action. Not others.
Many times in interviews, we’re tempted to say how we did something, or your manager helped with this.
Yes, you want to highlight how you work well with others, but an interview is your time to shine!
So, you want to talk about what YOU did, how YOU handled the situation, and how YOU took action.
You want to write out your answers and practice saying them out loud.
If this is completely overwhelming, I also do interview coaching as well in my services. So, if you’re interested in prepping with me before a big interview, email/DM/visit our website!
Number TWO | You can also prep for your specific interview by researching/googling typical job questions for your position. You can also Youtube interviews for your particular position.
Now, if you’re really good at talking on the spot, you may not need to do all this prep. I’m not great at talking on the spot; so, taking these additional steps helped me prepare for the questions I may be asked. Especially when it comes to panel interviews where there are multiple people throwing questions at you.
You can also go on Glassdoor/Indeed and look up a company. Sometimes current/former employees will leave comments about how the interview process was.
You could even reach out to employees on LinkedIn that may have similar job titles to see if they have insight into how you can stand out in the interview. The worst they can do is not respond.
The bottom line is to do the prep work. Come prepared.
Alright, so, you’ve prepared.
You’re ready to go.
They’re about to call you for the phone interview.
Or, you’re about to walk into the in-person interview.
Number THREE | From the phone interview with the recruiter to the final interview with the executive, you have to BE CONSISTENT, KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE, AND ASK APPROPRIATE QUESTIONS!
When the recruiter says, you’ll be meeting with John Doe, Jane Sue, and Bobby Wu, you need to know their titles. Either ask the recruiter or look it up on LinkedIn.
When you’re being asked questions and asking questions, you need to understand who you’re talking to.
When you’re interviewing with the screening phone recruiter —
- Needs to know that what you said on your resume, you actually do.
- So, you can highlight parts of your resume and provide specific examples based on his/her questions.
- When it comes to you asking questions for the screening interview, express interest! Have high energy!
- Ask what the interview process is.
- Ask what the hiring manager and team are really looking for?
- Ask if he/she can you provide additional detail on the role
- The key with the recruiter is to have high energy! Sell yourself! Be memorable!
When this recruiter debriefs to the hiring manager after talking to hundreds of people, you want them to remember you and speak well of you.
To the actual manager and and/or team members, go beyond your resume! Highlight those key examples we talked about.
When you’re interviewing with the hiring manager —
- Emphasize how you get the job done.
- Emphasize compliments your former boss and other leaders have given you.
- Ask what he/she is looking for in an employee.
- The manager wants to know you’re in it for the long run.
- Ask about the strategic vision of the department over the next 3-5 years, and how this job plays a role in that growth.
- Ask what are the current gaps in the department, and how can this role potentially help with that.
- Ask what are his/her expectations?
- Ask what are his/her pet peeves?
- Ask if they have any questions or concerns about anything on your resume?
- THE LAST QUESTION — What is his/her timeline for filling the position? That way, you know when to follow up.
When you’re interviewing with the team members–
This is the time to emphasize how you’re a team player to the team members.
- Ask what is the typical day in your role?
- Ask what are some of the highlights of your job?
- Ask what are some areas of improvement for the role or for the team, if any?
When you’re interviewing with the executive or senior leaders–
They may not know the ins and outs of your specific job, and they’re probably more focused on the bigger picture of the company.
- So, emphasize how you connect with the overall vision and mission of the company.
- Ask how this job plays a role in the overall vision.
- Do your research! Learn about maybe recent events that have taken place within the company; then, ask the executive follow up questions about it.
- You’re NOT going to ask the executive about the typical workday because he/she probably doesn’t know.
- So, your questions to the executive will be more big picture focused while also emphasizing how you plan to commit to the bigger picture by excelling in the current job opportunity.
Regardless of the audience, be consistent. You want to maintain the same high level, high energy, and professionalism throughout the entire process.
You’re not relaxed with the screening recruiter.
You show up and show out with him/her just as you would with the executive.
When you’re interviewing with members on the team, just because they’re comfortable doesn’t mean you’re comfortable.
They’re in the door.
So, dress to impress.
Navigate the conversation professionally.
Alright, NOW that you’ve prepared, you came, and you conquered.
You got through the phone interview.
You got through the panel interview.
You got through the final interview.
What do I do immediately after?
FOUR | Write a thank-you letter within the business day.
Yes, you can use any template to write a generic thank you. You can actually leave a thank you letter in person, or you can email it after, your preference.
However, I want you to secure your bag when you walk out the door.
So yes, I’m going to tell you to take an extra step.
So, you have the generic “thank you for meeting with me”…
“I’m really interested in the position”….but take it a step further!
“I particularly enjoyed discussing ___ part of the role, as I think it aligns well with my aspiration to do ____.
Add some specifics to let the recruiter, the manager, the team member, or the executive know that you are particularly interested in THAT SPECIFIC JOB!
In my 2020 career development services, I include the PERFECT thank you letter template that can easily and quickly be tailored and customized. This template comes with any of my services.
So, if you’re interested in that, be sure to book a service with me.
You sent the letter and want to know what you should do next!
Number FIVE | FOLLOW UP
Since you’ve already asked the recruiter and hiring manager the timeline, you should know when to expect a call/email.
So when that week comes, send a follow-up email to the recruiter and/or hiring manager inquiring about the next steps and if they’ve given any more thought to proceed with you as a candidate.
Now, you do not want to hound the hiring manager every single day. The first follow up email/call should go to the hiring manager and the recruiter. Then, continue to follow up with the recruiter.
But, you want to be sure to follow up! Don’t get comfortable just because they said they’re really excited or enjoyed you. Assume they say that to everyone.
Finally, NUMBER SIX | What do you do in the meantime while waiting for a response?
Nothing is set in stone until you have a WRITTEN OFFER LETTER in your hand.
So, yes, it’s incredible to start getting callbacks.
It’s great to get encouraging feedback.
But, do not let up until you have the OFFER you want IN WRITING.
Do not put in your two weeks until you have the OFFER in WRITING.
Do not start slacking on your job until you have the OFFER in WRITING. Well, really, don’t slack at all because you don’t want to burn bridges, and you need to secure that recommendation.
But anywho, CONDUCT BUSINESS AS USUAL until you receive the FORMAL OFFER LETTER.
Alright! So, that’s it for today’s episode!
In short– OVER-PREPARE | PROVIDE SPECIFIC EXAMPLES | KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO | FOLLOW UP | MAINTAIN BUSINESS AS USUAL UNTIL IT’S TIME TO MOVE
Eventually, on the podcast, I want to talk through salary negotiation and what to look for when accepting/declining an offer, how you should handle the last job, etc.
But, I want to be sure I’m creating content that actually answers your questions!
So, next week I’m going to do a Q&A on all your job search-related questions! Topics can include job searching/networking / interviewing / negotiation / what to do while waiting, etc.!
So, if you have specific questions and need a free answer, this is your time to ask them!
So to send in your questions, you have the following options:
- DM me on IG @_melaniechristina
- Email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Go to theroughdraftcollective.com and leave a comment on this blog post OR go to our contact page and leave a message with your question!
SEND ME ALL THE QUESTIONS, and I WILL ANSWER THEM IN NEXT WEEK’S EPISODE. Y’all got 7 days. 🙂
Because after this episode, we’re moving into interviews/storytime.
So! Don’t be shy! Get your questions answered so you can make leaps in your career this year!
For those of you who are in a job you like and are looking to develop your career further without looking for a new job, I haven’t forgotten about you! I’m going to do a series on that as well! Be sure to still send me your questions. If I can get to some of them next week, I will. Otherwise, I’ll save them for the next career series!
As I mentioned before, I do offer personal career coaching and writing services. So if you need a resume, cover letter, help with interviewing, or just direction in your career, check out our services!
That’s it for this week! I’ll see yall next week for Q&A!