I had an "aha" moment while reading "The Google Resume" in preparation for my interview with author Gayle Laakmann McDowell. As a person who frequently experiences brain freeze unrelated to ice cream and also brain-tongue disconnect, I think her advice to create a preparation grid for interviews is a winner.
It's certainly important to put the work into interview preparation and to understand behavioral interview questions, which essentially start out, "Tell me about a time ..." I've written about these common ones:
- What's the biggest failure you've been associated with?
- Think about your most recent project. What would you do differently?
- What is your biggest weakness?
McDowell writes that it's important to think about your most important projects and how you would answer questions about them. She explains:
The columns represent each project, and the rows represent the common behavioral question. If you are applying for an engineering role, the rows should instead be the common technical questions, such as the hardest bug or biggest algorithm challenge.
It's important to fill in just a few key words to jog your memory. This can be especially great during phone interviews because you can keep the grid in front of you. Here's an example from the book:
Here's another version at CareerLab, with the top headers listed as:
- Problems I faced
- Actions I took
Also check out this post from U.S. News & World Report, "How to Ace the Phone Interview." I especially like this one:
Tape your resume and whatever notes you'll use [editor's note: this could be your preparation grid] on the wall so you can consult them without having to look down, which can muffle your voice.