How an Interview Coach Can Help Your Job Search

Person meeting with interview coach
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Interviewing for a job can be nerve-wracking, especially if you don't switch jobs often or haven't otherwise had a lot of practice. If you're interviewing for a position that's a big step up from your current job, or at a highly competitive company with multiple interview rounds or a panel of interviewers, you might feel lost. What can you do to slant the odds in your favor and make sure the interview process isn't completely overwhelming?

If the thought of all those probing meetings seems very stressful, you may need professional interview help. If nothing else, understanding what you can expect during an interview for a new job will help you feel prepared.

One way to get assistance is to work with a coach. During interview coaching, job seekers meet with a professional trainer to learn various strategies and receive feedback on how they're handling practice interviews. The process can help job seekers develop a variety of skills and techniques that are useful for interviews. It's also a way to prepare for—and feel more confident about—upcoming interviews. This service is offered by career coaches and career service offices.

Should you hire an interview coach? And if so, how will you find one? Learn more about the process to decide if this service makes sense for you.

Why Interview Coaching?

Interview coaching can increase your chances of getting a job for many reasons. Coaching gives you experience answering many different interview questions and pretending to interact with potential employers. Your coach can provide you with valuable feedback that will help you improve your responses during interviews.

The more you practice with a coach, the more confident you will be. A coach can give you the tools to feel confident and self-assured going into any interview.

You may find an interview coach particularly useful if:

  • You get extremely nervous before interviews: Practicing with a coach can help you feel more comfortable and prepared.
  • You get interviews but no offers: An interview coach may be able to reveal what's going wrong. Perhaps you're failing to trumpet your accomplishments or to show off the correct skills.
  • It's been years since your last interview: A coach can help you rehearse and rediscover those skills you haven't used for some time.
  • You have an "issue": Did you get fired from your last job? Are you switching fields or industries? An interview coach can teach you how to address these topics during interviews.
  • You've got an interview lined up for your dream job: Want to feel extra-confident during your interview for your dream position? You may need targeted practice with a coach to gain an edge.

If any of these is true for you, you should consider working with an interview coach.

Types of Interview Coaching

There are many types of interview coaching. Some coaches meet with you in person and others speak with you online or by phone.

Whether you meet in person, online, or over the phone, coaches typically conduct one or more practice interviews and then provide you with feedback. They may also provide a list of typical interview questions and help you prepare answers. In an online interview, coaches may interview you over a video chat service. Or they may ask for you to send a video of your answers to a list of interview questions. If you meet over the phone, coaches will typically conduct a mock phone interview.

Nonverbal communication is another critical aspect of interviews. A coach can show you facial and body language that will demonstrate to the employer that you are friendly, interested, and actively listening.

Coaches may also assist you with other elements of the interview, including how to ask the right questions of the employer, doing your homework on the company, and even how to dress. Some coaches can even guide you through particular interview situations such as panel interviews or ones that involve a presentation.

How to Find a Professional Coach

If you're ready to hone your interview skills, there are many different ways to locate a coach. Your college career services office may provide free or discounted interview coaching to alumni, as well as to students. Explore the help your school offers and find out how you can tap into available resources. Distance counseling by phone, chat, or video call may be available.

You can also ask friends for recommendations and search for interview coaches on the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches website. Professional career coaches are typically trained as interview coaches. However, be aware that most of these services cost money, so research prices when looking for a coaching service.

When You Can't Afford a Coach

If you can't find any affordable coaching options, there are some opportunities for less expensive or even free coaching. Check out your local library to see if they hold any free interview or career workshops. State and local agencies also offer free career assistance to local citizens. Consider creating a job club with friends or associates, in which you give each other mock interviews.

Another option is do-it-yourself practice interviewing. Do you have a friend or family member who can ask you some of the most frequently asked interview questions so you can rehearse responding? Even casual run-throughs will help you to feel more comfortable when you're participating in a real interview. Whatever method you use, make sure you're well prepared to make a great impression in your next interview.