The Most Important Interview Prep You’re Probably Not Doing — But Should Be

interview prepWhat kinds of interviews yield the best candidates? According to research from Glassdoor Economic Research, more difficult interviews lead to more satisfied employees.

And that can be daunting if you’re the candidate — whether you’re a recent college grad, trying to score an internship, or looking for a big career leap. Chances are you’ve probably put most of your effort into practicing responses to softballs like “Tell me about yourself,” answers to the perennial least-favorite, “What’s your weakness?” or creative ideas for the totally off-the-wall questions that are in vogue right now.

While every minute of practice is absolutely time well spent, there’s another element of the interview prep you might want to consider, and that’s the specific setting of the interview.

I identified five potentially challenging interview types and found some intel on how to ace each one. Best of luck in your upcoming interviews.

Video Interview: Make Eye Contact

“Where do you look during a video interview? It’s one of the most common questions people have, and it’s easy to get thrown off if you’re not used to video chatting. Although it may not feel natural at first, you want to speak to the camera, not the screen. Always position your camera at eye-level, not above or below you. ‘The angle is so critical, [Paul] Bailo [digital executive and author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook] says. ‘You don’t want the camera looking up your nose, and you don’t want the camera looking down at you. The psychology behind it is if I’m looking down at the camera, I’m looking down at the hiring manager, and they feel subservient.’” — Read more at Business Insider.

Phone Interview: Talk This Way

“As with an in-person interview, practice can be helpful. Not only will this help you rehearse answers to common phone interview questions, but it will also help you realize if you have a lot of verbal ticks, fail to enunciate, or speak either too fast or too slow. For practice, have a friend or family member conduct a mock interview and record it so you can see how you sound over the phone. Once you have a recording, you’ll be able to hear your ‘ums’ and ‘uhs’ and ‘okays’ and then practice reducing them from your conversational speech. Listening to the recording will also help you pinpoint answers that you can improve.” — Read more at The Balance.

Project-Based Interview: Dazzle Them With Your Skills in a Temp-To-Perm Assignment

“Your temping gig is an opportunity for the employer to try you on for size. It’s hard to be ‘on’ all the time, but for the most part, you’ll want to think of your temping time as one long, lollapalooza of a job interview. Be a superstar — keep smiling and projecting energy, enthusiasm, and amiability. And remember, the audition works both ways. You’re also trying out the employer. If you decide the organization isn’t what you thought it was, it’s best to cut your losses and be glad you didn’t get stuck with a long-term job there.” — Read more at LiveCareer.

Lunch Interview: Be Prepared (Food, Ambience, Dress Code Are All Important!)

“William Arruda, author of Career Distinction: Stand Out by Building Your Brand, suggests, ‘Use what you can learn about the establishment to connect with something about you. For instance, ‘I understand this building used to be a printing press. I really like the architecture of these 1920s commercial spaces.'” … Keep costs down and order a reasonably priced item,” says [career strategist and workplace consultant J.T.] O’Donnell. ‘Skip dessert and only have coffee or tea if the hiring manager orders it first. Demonstrate that you are fiscally responsible and are not taking advantage of the situation.’” — Read more at Monster.

Group Interview: Show Your Team Player Skills

“While the other candidates may be your competition, they can also assist you on your path to the one-on-one. Throughout the activity, having the ability to address others by name will make you stand out and appear like a leader. Use the knowledge you built waiting for the interview to begin by addressing other candidates by name or referencing a conversation you were having. For example, if you and another candidate were talking about current events and in the interview, you’re asked a situational question, respond with something like, ‘Kim and I were just discussing a situation in the news that was very similar. In that situation, I would…’” — Read more at The Muse.

What is your secret to interview prep — or your oddest interview experience? I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

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Lindsey is a globally recognized career and workplace expert and the leading voice on generational diversity. She has spoken for more than 300 audiences including Google, Goldman Sachs, Estee Lauder, Stanford and Wharton. Lindsey is the author of four career and workplace advice books, and her insights have appeared in media outlets including The TODAY Show, CNBC, NPR, the Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal.


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