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The Ultimate 7-Step Interview Prep Process

Rachel Serwetz
Rachel Serwetz
September 22, 2022
The Ultimate 7-Step Interview Prep Process

Whether you can or can't pursue a mock interview (though we strongly suggest you do), follow the below guidance to prepare for your interview!

1. Perform Initial Research: Perform research, take notes, and see what questions arise as you look into the following areas. Read the entire company website and take notes. In addition, find some news online about the company or industry.

  1. What do you know about the interviewer's background? (I wouldn’t worry or over index on this per se, ut it’s good to be aware of)
  2. What do you know about the role?
  3. What do you know about the team/department?
  4. What do you know about their company?
  5. What do you know about their industry?
  6. What do you know about their recruiting process?
  7. I suggest spending 30-60 minutes on this and ensure you make time for behavioral interview prep (below). If you proceed in future interviews, you can always come back to continue your research.
  8. Our platform also has a place for you to organize and facilitate these notes.

2. Come up with Questions to Ask the Interviewer & Prove your Fit by Way of What You Ask

  1. Get in the mindset of "what questions would I be asking if I was getting started in this role?" Picture your first day and what you’d ask if you were a stellar employee, connecting the dots, and being as strategic as you could with onboarding yourself to get the lay of the land of how things work now, so that you can quickly add value and improve it.
  2. The more specific and authentic your questions are, the more you can prove that your headspace is ready to start that role, that you're thinking strategically about the work, that you're invested and interested in getting to know the team and company.
  3. You don't need to ask the person about their path.  This usually is a question people ask if they’re not sure what else to ask.
  4. Rather, show that you're focused on and invested in getting to know the role, the team/department, the company, etc. Use your knowledge of the role to come up with strategic questions about the work. If you’re asking the same questions they are, that’s why they’ll want to pay you, to go find those answers! 
  5. Determine culture fit by being specific rather than asking “what’s the culture like?” Authentically assess what feels important to you about your next workplace, team, environment, and opportunity. This will prove your readiness, seriousness, interest, and fit.
  6. For some ideas of questions, check our suggestions here.

3. Prepare for Behavioral Interviews

  1. The key to interviews is preparing beforehand. 
  2. List out as many questions you think you may receive and then think about the structure or approach you'll give to answer that question. 
    • Review the job description and create two questions for each responsibility or skill they’re looking for: one question asking you about a time or example when you did that thing before and one question asking you about your conceptual understanding of the process or concept. 
    • Ensure you think of relevant stories for each core component of the responsibilities they are looking for.
    • Feel free to continue that list and list out any work-related story,, i.e. challenges you overcame, times you succeeded, etc. Try to think of at least two or three stories per year of your professional background, if not more. The more you have at the ready, the more you have in your toolbox to pull from during the interview.
  3. Write out short phrases or keywords that remind you of what you want to say for each piece of the answer. Don’t flesh out your answers in full sentences, as you do not need to (and shouldn’t) memorize your responses verbatim. Rather, determine:
    • a) what are the core components or key parts to mention for this answer
    • b) jot down a few keywords per idea
    • Then, you can “memorize” what those key ideas are per answer, versus memorizing full sentences or full answers. That way, when you practice outloud, it sounds natural everytime, but what you're preparing for is that your key ideas are comprehensively included every time.
    • Leverage transition words as you give your answer to remind yourself to give that structure, ie “Well first… and second….” or any transition words that remind you to organize and separate your thoughts.

4. Practice your answers to these top behavioral questions, out loud.

  1. This is one of the most critical (if not the most critical) part of interview prep. 
  2. It will help you get a feel for how you want to explain your key stories, how to get comfortable speaking for ~1-2 minutes per answer, how to pause before you dive in, and how to get comfortable structuring your thoughts. 
  3. With every question, you want to pause to figure out how to structure or organize your thoughts versus just jumping in to speak immediately. 
    • This is usually a very new habit that takes practice to master but is underratedly one of your most precious tools to ensure you walk away without regret.
    You could either restate the question to buy time, mention “let me think about that for a second,” or jot down thoughts before diving in to start your answer.
  4. Key suggestions of questions to practice:
    • Tell me about yourself
    • Walk me through your resume/background/journey
    • Tell me about your experience at [prior] company 
    • What are your strengths? Why you?
    • What are your weaknesses?
    • Why this role?
    • Why this company?
    • Why this industry?
    • Plus, what your questions are for them
  5. Spend at least 30 minutes practicing out loud (or, practice each core question at least once). This is a drastic understatement. If you have time and are fully in job search mode, practicing a little bit everyday does not hurt. Depending on the stage of the interview and your comfort level, your practice may increase drastically. 
  6. You will need to be both comprehensive, specific, and concise. This is why practice is key. 
  7. If you're ever unsure, the most authentic answer is the best answer!
  8. They can always ask follow up questions to drill into what they want to learn more about, so don’t be afraid to answer a high level question with a high level answer, and then see what they want you to dive deeper into. 
  9. If your interview is online, you can practice sitting at your computer with an “empty” Zoom or Video meeting to get a feel for the real thing. If your interview is in person, sit in a chair and aim to mimic the real thing so you get a feel for your body language.
  10. Get comfortable considering and remembering the STAR method while you tell a story.
  11. Our platform also has a place for you to get to know top common behavioral questions and how we suggest you think about answering them.

5. If you can, schedule a mock interview. Prepare for our mock interview call as if it was the real interview. 

6. Land a networking call with someone at the company outside of your interview process to get a true feel for the culture. This is something you can also reference in your future interviews to prove you understand the culture and thus prove how and why you are a strong fit given all that you know.

7. If you have any reflections on what you think holds you back, work on that with a coach, mentor, or peer, as your mindset is a critical component to succeeding in interviews. You may have conscious or subconscious assumptions or limiting beliefs getting in your way.  This pre-Interview meditation, for right before the interview, might help!

Key resources:

  1. Interview Best Practices
  2. Read more on preparing for the interview here (day of prep, logistics, how to dress, what to have in front of you during the interview, etc)
  3. And much more
The Ultimate 7-Step Interview Prep Process

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Rachel Serwetz’ early professional experience was at Goldman Sachs in Operations and at Bridgewater Associates in HR. From there, she was trained as a coach at NYU and became a certified coach through the International Coach Federation. After this, she worked in HR Research at Aon Hewitt and attained her Technology MBA at NYU Stern. Throughout her career, she has helped hundreds of professionals with career exploration and for the past 4.5+ years she has been building her company, WOKEN, which is an online career exploration platform to coach professionals through the process of clarifying their ideal job and career path. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship at Binghamton University and has served as a Career Coach through the Flatiron School, Columbia University, WeWork, and Project Activate.

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