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Tips and Strategies on "How to Prepare for an Interview"

Her Allies recently hosted an insightful workshop on "How to Prepare for an Interview," providing valuable guidance and strategies for individuals looking to excel in their job interviews. The workshop covered various aspects, including different types of interviews, effective preparation techniques, and addressing gaps in one's resume.

Couldn’t attend? Here are some highlights from the workshop:

Understanding Interview Questions:

It helps to know the different types of questions recruiters and hiring managers might ask so that you can prepare responses and examples of the impact you’ve made. The most common questions are behavioral, which ask things about soft skills, and competency-based ones, which “test” your abilities via a case study or coding exercise.

Preparing for Interview Questions:

If you know your work history inside and out and are great at winging it - then you probably do great in interviews. Although, no matter how comfortable you are, preparing examples about your experiences and the impact you’ve made is invaluable. Below are some things to consider!

  1. Talk to the recruiter: Recruiters are a great point of contact. Ask them for the interview questions or topics ahead of time, stating you want to make the best use of the time.

  2. Break down the job description: Look through the job description and pick out skills and roles you think they’ll focus on, then prepare examples to show your experience with that skill.

  3. Get organized: Being organized is crucial for effective interview preparation. It’s likely you’ll use the same examples in different interviews. Also, one example might be a response to different interview questions, so it helps to know your examples inside and out and be able to adjust what you emphasize in the example based on what is asked.

  4. Prepare responses using STAR: The STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) is a useful framework for crafting structured and impactful responses to interview questions. By providing a clear situation, explaining the task at hand, describing the actions taken, and highlighting the results achieved, candidates can showcase their abilities effectively.

Example: "Can you give me an example of a time when you had to solve a complex problem?"

  • Situation (S): I encountered a complex technical issue that was affecting the performance of our software.

  • Task (T): It was crucial to identify the root cause and implement a solution promptly.

  • Action (A): I conducted in-depth research, collaborated with cross-functional teams, and implemented a series of troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue.

  • Result (R): The software performance improved significantly, resulting in enhanced user satisfaction and a decrease in customer complaints.

Talking about Breaks in One's Resume:

Addressing gaps in employment history can be a concern for many candidates, so here are some tips on how to handle the situation:

  1. Don't feel compelled to bring it up if not asked

  2. Make it sound intentional, not apologetic: State it as a fact and then reframe it to be future-focused about your excitement for the role. This Built-In article has some great examples of what to say in different situations. The author also uses the word pause instead of “break,” which is a great way to reframe a gap in employment.

  3. Share transferable skills: Even during a career pause, individuals can acquire valuable skills. Highlighting these transferable skills and expressing enthusiasm for leveraging them in the new role can demonstrate adaptability and growth.

Before, During, and After the Interview:

After you’ve prepared your examples, what do you do next?

  1. Practice, practice, practice: Practicing answering interview questions and taking advantage of online tools like Google's interview warm-up tool to refine your responses.

  2. Surround yourself with supportive individuals: Seek out a support network of people who can encourage and support you throughout the interview process.

  3. Ask for clarity or take a pause: If a question seems unclear, don't hesitate to ask for clarification to ensure you provide a well-informed response. Asking to take a moment to think is also just fine!

  4. Re-respond to a question: If, upon reflection, you feel that you could have provided a more comprehensive or impactful answer to a question, take the opportunity to follow up in a Thank You email, providing additional insights or examples to enhance your response.

  5. Ask questions: Engaging the interviewer with well-thought-out questions demonstrates interest and can provide valuable insights into the role and company culture.

  6. Send thank-you notes: Following the interview, sending personalized thank-you notes to the interviewer(s) is a professional gesture that can leave a positive impression.

  7. Don't be too hard on yourself: It's important to remember that not getting a job offer doesn't define your worth. Learn from the experience and use it as an opportunity for growth. As Liora Alvarez from Colorful Future’s often says, “Control what you can control.”

Remember, each interview is a chance to showcase your skills and abilities, and with the right preparation and mindset, you can make a lasting impression on potential employers. Good luck!

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