You did everything right to catch the hiring manager’s eye: a quick and clever cover letter, a resume that hit all the right keywords, and a follow-up email to show gratitude for their consideration. The interview process is all that’s standing between you and your dream job.
Even the most accomplished job seekers can feel nervous about making a good first impression. After all, no two interviews are alike, and there are plenty of variables to anticipate. You must adapt to different interview styles, balance confidence and arrogance, and prepare responses to situational interview questions or “Tell me about a time” prompts.
Whether this is your entrance into the job market or you’re interested in changing careers, seeking interview coaching is a smart way to improve your skills. A career coach can help you feel more confident, refine your elevator pitch, and give you the tools to stand out from other candidates.
What’s interview coaching?
Interview preparation coaching provides you with constructive feedback and strategies to anticipate and perform well in a job interview. Typically, career coaches offer job interview coaching to prepare you for a specific interview.
But a coach can also help you develop general interview skills — like effective communication and asking good questions — that you can showcase throughout your career.
The best interview coaching services analyze your resume and job potential from the perspective of a hiring manager or recruiter. They explore the requisites and responsibilities of the job you’re applying to alongside your skill set, experiences, and know-how to identify a potential employer’s biggest concerns.
Interview prep might include the following:
Defining your strengths and weaknesses
Connecting job requirements to your most valuable experiences
Examining your LinkedIn profile, resume, and personal brand statement to identify potential concerns for the interviewer
Developing strategies to handle different question types, like behavioral questions versus situational questions
Rehearsing verbal and nonverbal communication techniques
6 benefits of interview coaching services
To perform well in an interview, your goals might include responding well under pressure, developing negotiation tactics, and feeling more self-assured. Here are six benefits you could gain from attending interview coaching sessions.
1. Learn more about your skills
Successful interviews require you to exercise your soft skills. Critical thinking, adaptability, and creativity are just a few abilities you use to respond to different questions and make your value proposition stand out from other candidates.
A good coach will work closely with you to assess your existing skills. They’ll also provide constructive feedback about areas needing improvement and an action plan to get there.
During this assessment, you’ll likely learn a few new things about yourself. Maybe there are natural skills you excel at but aren’t aware of. And you may have overestimated other skills that require polishing. In any case, you’ll learn how to represent your personal brand in an interview and gain the tools necessary to work toward continued self-improvement throughout your career.
2. Strengthen your confidence
If you feel anxious about job interviews, you’re not alone. A job interview aims to evaluate you as a candidate. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed about being judged or misunderstood. While stress can motivate you to prepare and perform, too much stress can cause you to give a bad interview.
A career coach can build your confidence in several ways. First, they’ll identify, emphasize, and spotlight what makes you a valuable candidate. Focusing on your unique strengths can fill you with pride that allows you to speak with conviction.
Second, practicing common questions and improving your responses in a supportive environment can help you develop answers you can confidently adapt during the real interview.
3. Fine-tune your communication strategy
While you use various abilities to deliver a good interview, your communication skills are what’s most on display. An interview isn’t just a chance to evaluate whether you have the right experience and know-how to perform the job. It’s also an opportunity for a hiring manager to gain a preview of what it’ll be like working with you.
A solid communicator will likely be at the top of their list, since good communication can boost productivity, knowledge sharing, and collaboration. And interview practice can help you work on your active listening, body language, and ability to speak clearly. These skills show hiring managers you have what it takes to communicate well with your new team.
And if you’re less experienced with virtual calls, online interview coaching can give you practical experience with online interviews. Your coach can teach you to utilize purposeful body language, give effective eye contact, and eliminate distractions to stay engaged and professional.
4. Overcome nervousness
Practicing interview questions may not be enough to shake your nerves. The right interview coach can also provide wellness coaching to manage interview anxiety and walk in with a clear head. This might involve practicing:
5. Improve your negotiation skills
But talking about money can be a slippery slope. If you ask for more than your experience is worth, you might come off as arrogant. If you ask for too little, you may demonstrate a lack of self-confidence.
Skilled coaches have years of experience in career development and can offer you guidance regarding evaluating your market value, articulating your worth, and developing techniques to negotiate trade-offs or counter offers.
And healthy negotiations can have a lasting effect. One study found that collaborative negotiation participants were happier with their job offers and had higher job satisfaction.
6. Handle difficult questions better
A gap on your resume, a big career transition, or job hopping might raise concerns for some hiring managers. A great coach creates a supportive environment to help you practice responding to challenging questions calmly and effectively. You can work on techniques to shift the narrative and paint potential red flags as unique employee strengths.
Imagine you took a career break to care for an elderly family member. A gap may suggest you need to retrain some hard skills.
But highlighting important soft skills like self-efficacy, patience, and conviction may convince the hiring manager it’s worth the trade-off. And practicing your answer can eliminate the surprise factor and help you keep the conversation moving in your favor.
Mock interviewer versus coach
Practice makes perfect. A mock interview session with a colleague and a professional coach are both useful, but they don’t serve the same purpose. Here are three differences:
Expertise: An industry colleague can help put you at ease by practicing answers to common interview questions, but they might miss out on other important communication cues.
A professional coach won’t just listen to the content of your words, they’ll pay close attention to your delivery. They’ll coach you through improvements with time-tested techniques, experience with other job seekers, and job market knowledge.
Objectivity: A colleague or friend might try to build your confidence by hyping you up rather than delivering criticism. A career coach’s job is to help you reach your goals, and often this involves providing constructive feedback that pushes you to improve.
Commitment: A colleague will likely volunteer to help you with a mock interview once, which can be useful for a last-minute confidence boost. A career coach will follow your progress over several sessions and pinpoint where you’re improving and what areas need more work.
This long-term commitment and back-and-forth exchange can stimulate significant improvements in skills that extend beyond your next interview.
How do you know if you need an interview coach?
It’s never a bad idea to polish your interview skills, especially if you want to land your dream job. Here are 10 tell-tale signs that interview coaching might be just what your career needs:
The interview process consistently stops after the first interview round
You struggle to overcome nervousness, stress, and anxiety when interviewing
You’re not positive of proper etiquette for in-person versus online interviews
You aren’t sure how to address challenging questions about your resume
Hiring managers and interviewers gave you negative feedback about your interviewing skills
You have a difficult time communicating yourself in a compelling way
You feel uncomfortable in new or high-pressure situations
One-on-one work and consistent feedback help you excel in skill building
Negotiating a salary feels intimidating
You struggle with online communications
Find the best interview coaching services
The job search isn’t easy. But it doesn’t have to be a solo journey.
Whether you’re just stepping into the workforce or preparing to move up the executive ladder, interview coaching can give you the tools needed to deliver the answers hiring managers seek.
There’s a coach out there for everyone. Try out a few professionals, asking coworkers and friends for recommendations. Once you find the right one, prepare yourself for increased confidence, improved self-promotion skills, and overall personal growth.