Even if you have the outfit, skill, expertise, and stunning references, the job interview is really what’s going to make or break your potential job offer. There’s no getting around that fact. Even in a high-demand field with limited competition, you may find yourself going through the motions on dozens of interviews. You can try to go it alone (risky), or you can seek out help and get expert coaching for job interviews.
Don’t let overconfidence or its evil twin, underconfidence, be the deciding factor. In this post, we’ll help you determine whether or not interview coaching is right for you.
What Is Interview Coaching?
Whether you’re a fresh graduate or you have been employed for some time, there’s a good chance you don’t have a lot of experience interviewing for a job. And if you are like most people, you don’t enjoy the idea of selling yourself. This is where the benefits of hiring interview coaching services come in. An interview coach can get you through the nerve-wracking job interview process.
“I don’t want to pay for an interview coach.”
I hear that. I feel that. And you don’t always have to pay for an interview coach. Sadly, interviewing for a job isn’t taught in most schools or at most workplaces. There are often three ways people learn how to be a good interviewee:
- Trial and error
- Watching and emulating written and video content (like you have here!)
- Professional coaching from a career mentor
Trial and error is a bit challenging, but it’s unavoidable. Even with emulating best-practice advice, you’re still going to have to go through the fire. And with professional coaching, well, hopefully, your current company offers open mentoring programs like the one at KeyBank.
If all you have at your fingertips is professional coaching, be prepared to put some money down. You’ll find that professional coaches can be pricey, with hourly rates often exceeding $75 per hour.
You can always ask around in your professional or personal network where you might from someone to coach you for free.
How does interview coaching work?
Like career coaching, an interview coaching service will help you build the confidence you need for job interviews. You’ll often have to take some time to write out and explain your long term goals and career goals to your coach. Then, your coach will likely have you practice answering interview questions (through the mock interviews) and guide you throughout your job search process. Ideally, your coach will help you align and speak to your goals in the interview process.
Thus, a professional interview coach is like a personal trainer for your confidence, mindset, and applicable interviewing practices. Interview coaches are trained professionals who can help you develop your interviewing skills to help you land your dream job, get into your dream company or even both.
During an interview coaching session, you will interview coach will explore various concepts that make you look and sound better during the interview:
- How you sound when answering questions
- How you look (dressing for the occasion, based on the type of job or company)
- How you feel about yourself (confidence)
Moreover, an interview coach will teach you various strategies and techniques to improve your responses to questions and to help you prepare for different interview formats (phone, video, panel interviews).
An interview coach will help you to develop the transferrable skills to become a better candidate and get that competitive edge to land your dream job.
Signs You Need a Job Interview Coach
We all know that you need confidence to succeed in life. But for job interviews, you need more than just confidence. Style (presentation style, not clothing style) and confidence lead to job offers.
More than your expertise and resume, interviewers look for confidence. It’s how they gauge your skills and genuine interest in the job position and their organization.
The second the interviewer senses uncertainty in you, they will test you more with more challenging questions. If you’re not prepared, you’ll find yourself quickly stumped by tough questions and inserting lots of “ums” and “uhs” into your answers.
In case you never took a class in communications or speech, those “ums” and “ahs” are called filler words. Because silence during communication feels awkward, we naturally fill in that silence with fillers. However, fillers tend to be construed by audiences as a lack of knowledge on the subject.
That’s not always true, of course. You may just be nervous. But the more fillers you have in your speech, the more likely your audience (the interview) is going to perceive that you’re not confident in what you’re saying.
This is where career coaching services, specifically an interview program, can help. Here are some signs you may need to seek out some additional help.
You find the job interview process daunting
Even the most experienced job seeker can feel nervous before an interview. It shows that you care about the opportunity and want to do well. Also, selling yourself and convincing people that you are the best candidate for the job can be excruciatingly difficult.
Let’s say the thought of entering a room and facing an interviewer makes your stomach churn from anxiety and stress. It certainly does for me, and I’m on my third career already. But if that feeling is completely debilitating, such that it keeps you from making adequate progress toward applying for jobs, you need to enroll yourself in an interview coaching program and get an interview coach to help you manage the anxiety and stress of the job interview.
An interview coach will help you with calming techniques to feel relaxed and comfortable before meeting your interviewer.
You’re not getting job offers that you want and need
Most job seekers are actually qualified for the job they want. But it is their interview skills that keep them from sounding confident in answering questions. Thus, keeping them from getting the job they want.
An interview coach is practically a career coach. They will help identify the specific things you need to work on in your interview skills, from researching about the job to preparation to your professional skills, communication skills, listening skills, and of course, your confidence. This way, you may see more job opportunities and get more job interviews.
You have a great opportunity you cannot afford to pass up
Most of us only apply to jobs we’re confident we can do to some level of efficacy, whether or not our skills exactly align with the job description. Unfortunately, you often only get one chance at a job interview, so figuring out how to speak to your ability to perform and add value is important.
No pressure or anything, but that job interview you’re about to go into could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Interview preparation services will put you through mock interview sessions. Expect to get peppered with challenging interview questions in various interview settings. You can anticipate your interview coach to also help you improve your resume with resume writing techniques. Overall, your interview coach will try to help you better prepare for the interview and make a good impression on the hiring manager standing between you and your dream job.
You haven’t been through a job interview or haven’t been interviewed in a while
One of my favorite phrases is “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” When something hasn’t been properly maintained, it gets worn down. Your interviewing skills are the same. If you’ve been in the same role for years, you might not have as much confidence during the interview process as you once did. Or, you may not be fully prepared for how interviewing has changed since the last time you interviewed.
The only way to be good at something is to do it often. Yet interviewing is not exactly something you want to do often.
The ideal situation is to get a good job at a good company and stay there for a while. As such, anticipate a lot of practice sessions with your interview coach. If you’re applying for an executive-level position, your executive coaching sessions will probably be even more intense as the role is far more high-stakes.
Interview coaches will conduct mock interviews and help refresh your communication and listening skills. This means you will get to answer interview questions, ask your questions, etc., in mock interview sessions. This is crucial when you are about to make a huge career change.
You cannot get past the first interview
Keep this stat in your head: Hiring managers interview an average of nearly five candidates for every offer they send. If you’ve made it to the first interview, you’re already in good shape.
But if you keep getting knocked out of the running during the first interview, there’s likely a problem with your interview skills and not what’s on your resume. You just aren’t showing well or confidently enough to convince anyone to give you a second interview.
As said earlier, many job seekers have the expertise and experience for the job they want. It’s just that they cannot show it clearly in the job interview process. Thus, they don’t get called for the second or final interview.
Career coaching, either through your current employer’s career and skill development mentoring programs and Employee Resource Groups, or through external interview coaching services, will evaluate the communication skills that keep you from showcasing your expertise and experience. Interview coaches will help you tighten up the lagging areas in your communication skills to make a good impression on your hiring manager.
You always end up as the runner-up
Getting rejected after the first interview is tough. But constantly getting knocked out of the running during the second interview? That can be demoralizing. If that’s happened on multiple occasions, that’s a clear sign something is wrong with your presentation skills at that critical juncture in the hiring process.
A professional interview coach will help you pinpoint why these things keep happening and teach you what and how to change to avoid these shortcomings in your next interview.
You often feel bad after an interview session
Interviews are high-stress situations, even when they go well. Even the most experienced and skilled job seeker can feel nervous. If you often leave your interviews feeling like they were total disasters, perhaps you need to change things up and get the professional help of job interview coaching.
Interview coaching services can help you develop and polish your confidence, practice, prepare, and ace your next interview.
You haven’t been in a formal interview process
If you’re a college graduate, there’s a chance you’ve never had a formal interview before. And if you’re from a minority background, you may have never had a formal interview due to implicit and sometimes explicit biases in the hiring process.
Whatever the case may be, formal interviews should be treated different. You’ll need to learn to move past small talk.
If this is you, and you are about to get to a job interview, you need to prepare. And there is no better way to help you prepare for a big interview than with the help of an interview coach. Job interview coaching will prep you for your first formal job interview.
You feel there is a language barrier
If English is not your first language, and you are interviewing for a job in an English-speaking setting, then language and speech may become an issue for you and your hiring managers.
Depending on the country and culture, there may be lots of nuances in the language that you need to learn. The best interview coaching services will help you prepare for that and overcome any possible language barrier.
You don’t have the confidence to sell yourself
A job interview is practically selling yourself to hiring managers. It is about convincing them that you are the best candidate for the job and that they need you to be part of their team. A good interview coach will help you tailor your elevator pitch, prepare meaningful anecdotes, quantify your achievements and experience, and say the right things to sound confident.
Again, more than skills and experience, confidence is the most critical thing that interviewers look for in job interviewers. And no, you don’t need to “fake it until you make it.” Getting a career coach to help you with mock interviews will help you develop self-confidence and self-esteem.
You can’t seem to find the right answers to interview questions
Interview questions are often simple and very basic. However, in their simplicity, most people get lost in trying to answer the question. Many times, hundreds of things run inside their heads at the same time that they cannot find the right words to say to answer simple questions. Thus, they stumble on simple questions and end up fumbling their words.
If you often find yourself stumbling in answering not just challenging questions, but simple ones too, consider interview coaching.
The mock interviews and various interview questions you get through a coaching session will help prepare you for easy and difficult questions.
You have received undesirable feedback from past interviewers/recruiter
This may seem obvious, but if you receive negative feedback about your interview skills, put some time into working on them.
The best way to do this is to enroll yourself in an interview coaching program. As you go through the interview coaching process, you’ll learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, you’ll find solutions to moving past the weaknesses, and ways to hone in on and enhance the strengths.
You have employment barriers
Interviewers are trained to pinpoint employment barriers from your resume. They can easily and quickly pinpoint these things and bring them up in their interview questions. This can be a long history of job hopping, criminal backgrounds, or large gaps between jobs.
Having the right interview coach will help you explain challenging personal situations in a manner that will put you in a good light and make you a good candidate for the job. Moreover, interview coaches will conduct resume reviews to help you better prepare for possible questions from your resume.
You are facing unique situations that make it hard to answer certain interview questions
If your previous employment is highly confidential and you are not allowed to divulge specifics about your job (not uncommon for highly-classified military service roles) then you may be in a weird position where you can’t answer some interview questions directly.
Job interview coaches will help you highlight the right transferable skills that you can highlight. They’ll also help you navigate questions you can’t legally answer.
You find it daunting to negotiate employment offers
If you find it extremely difficult to negotiate the salary, benefits, or compensation you deserve, an interview coaching program can help you develop the persuasive skills for that.
Interview coaches will empower you with tips and techniques that worked for them and their previous clients. This means the cost of hiring interview coaching services will pay for itself, as you will now have ways to negotiate for a higher salary.
You are changing careers
Changing a career field makes it difficult for anyone to sell their skills. It can feel like you are starting from zero, and often, people will settle for way less than they deserve, thinking that they have to start from the bottom. Interview coaching can help you avoid that pitfall.
An interview coach will help determine your transferable skills and even help you search for that job.
How and where to find an interview coaching service
Interview coaching services are typically offered by professional development companies and career coaching service providers. Sometimes, an interview coach is referred to as a career coach, employment specialist, or workforce developer.
However, the best place to start when looking for an interview coach is your current employer. If your company offers an open mentoring program, start there. Look for a peer mentor or someone at a higher level than yourself who can help guide you through the internal hiring process. After all, interviewing is not just about job switching. If you want to make a lateral or upward move in your organization, you will likely still need to interview for those internal roles.
Professional development and career coaching companies usually offer interview coaching for a specific number of paid sessions or a specific number of hours, with different packages and pay rates. Depending on the company, many offer a free consultation before you can actually commit to their programs.
And like most things in life, not all interview coaches are the same. Thus, it is best to start your job search process with established and reputable career and professional development companies with comprehensive coaching sessions and right interview practice that can actually help you hone your interview skills for interview success.