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21 Tips For Effective Interview Preparation, Participation, & Follow-Up

You’ve spent time preparing your resume, updating your LinkedIn profile, and seeking the perfect roles in the education sector that match your long-term career goals. You’ve applied for a handful of positions. If you succeed, you will have the opportunity to be involved with the meaningful change that comes with working in a non-teaching position in the education sector. The email you’ve been waiting for finally arrives. A hiring manager or recruiter has offered you an interview for your dream job! You are excited and nervous at the same time. Don’t let the excitement fade because enthusiasm translates well in a job interview, especially in an era where many interviews are online via Zoom, Google Meet, or Skype. You can calm your nerves by investing in a few hours of interview preparation and engaging in effective interview follow-up practices.

Below we provide you with seven tips for effective interview preparation, seven tips to follow when you participate in an interview, and seven tips for effective interview follow-up:

Tips for Effective Interview Preparation

You’ve likely had at least one interview in your life and probably more. Even if you’re an interview pro, you need to spend some time doing your homework. These seven tips will ensure you have adequately prepared for your upcoming interview.

1. Review Common Interview Questions

Practice your answers to common interview questions by providing concise and concrete examples that highlight your skillset and support your resume. Those coming from outside the education sector especially need to focus on examples that show how skills from current and previous jobs align with a potential new role. Skills transfer across industries, but your interviewer is not likely familiar with your industry, so you need to paint a picture for them. You also should focus on the common “Tell me about yourself” question by coming up with a personal elevator pitch that reveals who you are, what you value, and what you can bring to the organization.

2. Research Your Potential Employer

You should already know quite a bit about the organization where you are interviewing, considering you’ve applied for a position. If you didn’t take the time to research their history, mission, and values, you need to do this before your interview. Your interviewer will want to see that you are interested in the work they have done in the education sector and that you want to contribute to their organization in a meaningful way.

3. Prepare Questions of Your Own

A job interview is also an opportunity for you to ask questions about the organization and your potential role, so put together a list of questions to ask your interviewer at the appropriate time. Hiring managers almost always ask if you have any questions. You risk appearing apathetic if you don’t have any questions to ask them, which is not a good quality for someone who works in the education sector.

4. Prepare a Reference List

Even if you had already provided references when you filled out an online application, you should always go to an interview with a prepared list. Title the page and include your contact information, too. Most employers ask for three references, so that is your minimum. Make sure to include full contact information and the title of each person you list, as well as a sentence or two explaining your relationship to them. Make sure you get permission from your references and tell them about your new role. If you are coming outside the education sector, let your reference know that they can help by speaking about your transferable skills.

5. Do Mock Interviews

Practicing is the best way to help remove anxiety about an upcoming interview. Find a friend who will do mock interviews with you and do as many as time allows. If you cannot find someone to do mock interviews, practice answering questions in the mirror. Don’t worry about sounding over-rehearsed. If you spend time practicing, you will sound articulate and smooth, and practicing in front of the mirror or mock interviews helps you clarify your thoughts.

6. Prepare an Interview Cheat Sheet

Whether you are interviewing via phone, video, or in-person, prepare a cheat sheet that includes crucial points you want to remember. Include bullet points that list your most relevant skills, questions you have for the employer, answers to common questions, and information about the organization.

7. Test Drive Your Technology

In recent months, video interviews are increasingly popular. The last thing you want to do is have a technology failure that interferes with your video interview. Several hours, or a day or two before your interview, test your computer, your camera, your internet connection, and anything else that leads to disaster.

Tips for Effective Interview Participation

The day of your interview has arrived. Below, find seven tips to help you put your best foot forward and leave a great impression with the hiring manager or human resources person who interviews you.

8. Dress for Success

You should dress comfortably for an interview because you will feel more comfortable, but you still must dress professionally. You want to keep your look on the conservative side for the first interview and make sure to clean and press your outfit. If you know someone who works at the organization, ask them for some advice. You can ask your interviewer about the organization’s dress code before the interview. Remember, if you have a video interview, you should still dress appropriately.

9. Arrive On-Time

It might go without saying that you cannot be late for a job interview. Yet, it happens all the time. Make sure you know the route to and from your interview, allow extra time for bad weather, allow extra time for traffic, and set two alarms if you have an early morning meeting. If you have the opportunity, search out your interview location ahead of time. One of the easiest ways for hiring managers to eliminate multiple qualified candidates is by getting rid of those who don’t arrive on time. It’s in your best interest to plan to arrive at least 10 minutes early, which also provides the opportunity for a quick trip to the bathroom and a mirror check.

10. Establish Rapport

When you arrive at your interview or sign onto the video chat, take a few minutes to establish rapport with your interviewer to relax your nerves and humanize you. Bring enthusiasm and energy and make sure you know your interviewer’s name before your meeting and jot it down on your notepad. Use it during your interview to make a personal connection, which can increase your odds of getting a job offer. Hiring managers often hire candidates they like and believe fit the organization’s culture.

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Say, “I Don’t Know.”

You’ve done your homework, practiced answers, and know a lot about the education sector, the organization, and the non-teaching role you are seeking. Yet, you won’t have an answer to every question that your interviewer asks. It’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” Use this opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills by offering an honest, educated guess and sharing with your interviewer how you would go about finding the answer to their question.

12. Take Notes During the Interview

Always bring a notebook or notepad to an interview to jot down notes and questions as you go. It shows you are thoughtful and actively participating in the interview.

13. Ask Questions Along the Way

You’ve prepared a list of questions, but you do not have to wait to ask them all at once. Engage in the conversation and be assertive during the interview. Interject questions where appropriate without cutting off your interviewer. Avoid being overconfident or arrogant because it will cost you. In fact, a 2018 survey revealed that about 60 percent of hiring managers and recruiters reported arrogance as an instant deal-breaker.

14. Ask for the Job

You should always ask for the job at the end of the interview, which is especially crucial if you are seeking a role in sales or marketing in an educational organization. In an interview, you are selling your labor to your hiring manager, and you need to close the deal. Share what interests you about the role, why it aligns with your career goals, and restate how the abilities you possess will help you succeed in the role. You have a better chance of receiving a job offer if your interviewer knows how strongly you want the job.

Tips for Effective Interview Follow-Up

You will likely feel a sigh of relief after your interview is over, but you have not yet completed your work. You need to apply these seven effective interview follow-up tips to maximize your chances of getting a job offer or second interview.

15. Ask About What Comes Next

Once you’ve completed your interview and asked for the job, it’s appropriate to ask what comes next. Will you receive a notification if the company chooses not to hire you? Should you look for an email? Is there a second interview with others in the organization? Your interviewer will be happy to let you know how things work, so you know what to expect.

16. Immediately Send a Thank-you Email

You should always send a thank-you email within 24 to 48 hours after your interview. Approximately 80 percent of hiring managers say that sending a thank-you is helpful. Make sure to customize your email and provide specific things you appreciated and things about the job that excited you.

17. Contact Your References

Email or call your references as soon as possible after your interview and let them know how it went. Give them information about the company and specifics about your interview, so they have some time to think about how they can provide the best reference. Well-prepared references give you a higher chance of getting a second interview or a job offer.

18. Touch Base Once or Twice

If the hiring process is moving slowly and you haven’t heard anything feel free to touch base once, but no more than twice to ask for an update. It’s best to follow-up with an email unless your interviewer specified otherwise. When you send an email, mention the role you applied for and the date of your interview to refresh their memory. Also, let them know you remain interested in the position and would appreciate an update.

19. Make Sure Your Potential Employer Can Reach You

If your interviewer wants to offer you a second interview or a position, you must be available. If they cannot reach you, chances are you will miss out on an opportunity. Make sure they have your correct email and phone number. Also, check your emails and messages regularly and do not delay. Respond immediately, so you don’t lose your chance at your dream job!

20. Remain Professional on Social Media

Often hiring managers and recruiters check out a candidate’s social media. Although it might not be fair for someone to judge you for a specific post, unprofessional posts can ruin your chances for a job. Keep in mind that you do work or will be working in the education sector. Even though you might not be directly in front of kids, your character and professionalism still matter. Social media can paint an unimpressive first impression of someone. It’s best to keep posts and photos light and friendly and keep pictures and memes G-rated. If you are uncertain about a particular post or picture, it’s best not to take a chance. Some job candidates choose temporarily to deactivate their accounts or avoid use altogether.

21. Assess Your Interview

Take some time after your interview to assess what you could have done better and what answers might need some refinement. If you do not get a job offer, making some adjustments helps you in future interviews.

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WorkMonger provides expert-level career services and career coaching for those seeking their dream job in the education sector. In addition to career coaching, we can help with interview preparation, resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and much more. Get the proper knowledge and support you need to find the roles that fit you, get interviews, and get hired. Sign up with WorkMonger today!


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