“A goal without a plan is a daydream.” – Rick Conlow
We all have goals…whether to run a marathon, learn a new language, or land the dream job. And there are always steps we have to take in order to achieve them. Sometimes we make lists, do research, or set dates on a calendar. Regardless, we move forward with the end in mind. Whatever the goal, an action plan creates a clear path to success.
While creating an action plan for your job interview process seems like a no-brainer – you want the job after all – you need to take the necessary steps to be sure you’re fully prepared. That is why we made a list of our top tips for writing a successful interview action plan to help you get started.
We included some important tips that are applicable to our current remote environment. Since 74% of hiring managers feel that virtual interviews have made their jobs easier, we will all continue to participate in virtual interviews for the foreseeable future.
9 Tips to Write Your Job Interview Action Plan
On both the company and the industry at large. The first step in your action plan should always be research. Showing knowledge of the company, its objectives, culture and values, and the industry is crucial and shows that you are serious and passionate about the role. Your understanding of both could also set you apart from other candidates.
This could be brought up via a direct question like “What do you know about us?” or “What do you know about the consulting industry?” Even if the question is not asked, your insight will shine through the entire interview. So, keep your research focused so your action plan is concise and your interview is smoother.
It is pretty common for an interview to begin with “tell me about yourself.” Although it may be interesting that you are an equestrian in your spare time, keep it relevant. Your action plan should include your selling points – from your education, personality, and professional accomplishments to how your experience will help the company accomplish its goals.
Think about your equipment AND your location. Test drive your computer’s speakers and mic capabilities to ensure they work well. If they don’t, consider buying new ones or borrowing some from family or friends. Ensure your wifi capabilities are up to speed by running a speedtest. Studies show that even a 1.2 second lag can impact a person’s impression of you.
Just because you are not meeting in person, does not mean your presentation is less important. They say dress for the job you want. Regardless of whether you are meeting in person or virtually, dress to impress.
One study actually showed that the clothes you wear can actually boost your abstract thinking and broaden your perspective. So, dig through that closet, hit the mall or hit up your favorite clothing retailer site and plan an outfit that both looks great and makes you feel confident.
Although you can’t wow them with your long, confident stride or your firm handshake, your body language still plays a huge role in your first impression. And since 33% of interviewers decide whether or not to hire someone in the first 90 seconds (crazy, right?!), that first impression better be a good one!
So sit up straight, make eye contact (practice looking at your webcam and not just the screen) and be conscious of what you are doing with your hands. These are items that should be included in your action plan and can be practiced ahead of time.
When prepping for a virtual interview, consider the space in which you will be sitting and make sure it is free of distractions, for both yourself and the interviewer. You want to choose a space that is quiet, clean, and comfortable.
Make sure it is not up against the wall where you constantly hear your neighbor’s dog barking. And clear your surroundings of clutter. A neat, neutral backdrop is best. Your interviewer does not need to see your extensive doll collection or your collection of shot glasses from around the world.
Both common interview questions that will be asked of you and questions that you have for the interviewer. Just because you are sitting down at a computer for an interview does not mean you should be actively searching during the process. You need to be focused and appear prepared.
Be ready with answers to common interview questions like:
Avoid memorizing your answers. A good solution is to jot down high-level thoughts that you can easily reference. And be prepared with strong questions to ask the interviewer such as:
All of it. Run an interview technology test by having a short video chat with a friend. Make sure you are looking into your camera, are sitting at the appropriate level and your lighting doesn’t leave you looking like a fuzzy shadow. Try your outfit on. Review your notes. Practice your questions and responses by taking a quick glance at your notes. The more you practice, the more prepared you will be and in turn, the more confident you will be during the interview.
Make sure your action plan has a powerful ending. Think of it as a story. The best stories leave you wanting more. You set the scene, navigated through the entire interview while selling yourself and now you need to close it. Tell your interviewer how much you want the job and why, while conveying your passion for the position. Create an ending to the interview that is so memorable that they have to hire you.
Virtual interviewing can be a bit intimidating. But if you design a strong action plan and follow it through, it is not hard to make a good impression in a remote interview. As with any interview, do your homework and come to the computer screen prepared.
And remember, every interview experience you have leaves you with something learned. Embrace those takeaways and adjust your action plan accordingly so you can keep taking the steps forward to achieve your goal. Looking for more ways to prepare? Check out these 6 tips for acing your next on demand video interview.
Nick is an Account Executive at interviewstream. He’s a Chicago native through and through -- at any given time, you’ll probably find him watching one of the Windy City’s pro sports teams, or rooting for his alumnus, University of Illinois.