January 19, 2022

How to Prepare for Job Interviews - Ep. 28

How to Prepare for Job Interviews and Get Hired

Here's What You Should Do

Being interviewed for a job can be daunting, but with proper preparation and planning, you can rest assured that you’ll have a successful interview!
Welcome to Degree Free, where we explain what you can do instead of going to college, and how to teach yourself, get work, and make good money.
In this episode, we talk about:
  • How to properly prepare and plan for a successful job interview
  • How to research the company you’re applying for and use the information for your job interview
  • The best way to practice for an in-person interview and online interview
Ryan talks about why it’s important to re-create the interview environment and practice with another person.
Hannah also talks about the importance of fitting into a company’s culture to increase your odds of getting hired.

Enjoy the episode!

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Applying for jobs can be very lonely and tiring. If you want to know how to stay motivated while applying for jobs, check out our previous episode.

Links and Notes from the Episode

Episode Transcript
Please enjoy this transcript or our episode!

Please note the transcript may have a few errors. We're human. It can be hard to catch all the errors from a full length conversation. Enjoy!

Ryan: Aloha guys. And welcome back to degree free where your hosts, Ryan and Hannah Maruyama. On this podcast, we share fundamentals. We've discovered the mistakes we've made while self-educating, getting work, building businesses and making money. We'll tell you how to make it happen. No degree needed.

Hannah: Welcome back everybody.

We are happy to have you as always. And if you don't want to miss a thing, which you definitely don't cause why would you? You're gonna want to check out our degree free newsletter and you can sign up for this newsletter. It is completely free and you can sign up by going to the degreefreenetwork.com.

There is a bunch of cool stuff in that newsletter. Varies a little bit from week to week. But mostly what we're going to be giving you is going to be resources that you can use on your degree free journey, for education and employment degree free news, like companies that are now hiring or changing their policies towards college degrees and just resources and things that Ryan and I find really useful and that we like. Yeah, definitely check that out.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely, and if you haven't already please and subscribe give us a thumbless thumbs up on YouTube. Today we are going to be talking about one of the things that is probably one of the most important questions that we get, or one of the most important topics that we can talk about.

It's going to be a short episode. This is probably going to be like part one of like, probably a six thing. You're talking about how to prepare for a job interview and there is a lot here, and there's a lot to go over. So today we're really going to just be focusing on general questions, company, specific questions, and like maybe not questions, but rather where to find the information, to answer certain questions.

Hannah: Yeah. And this is, yeah, this is more of a, just a general overview and a good place to start. If you aren't sure where to start or you feel like you've never really done well at interviews before. And you're just not really sure what the formal process is for prepping for one, this is a good bare bones overview of how to go about it.

Ryan: So what today we're going to be going over some things, some exercise that you can do in order to practice before you go to your interview, because during your interview, whatever it is that you're saying, you don't want it to be the first time that those words are coming out of your mouth.

Hannah: Yeah. But it's hard for it to not be.

So you gotta prep.

Ryan: Right, exactly. Like I said, hopefully we're gonna, we're gonna be making a lot more, we're going to be creating some resources for everybody as well, but let's just get into it. The biggest thing is you got to know a little bit about the company that you're applying to and the role that you're applying to before you have your interview.

Hannah: Yeah. You're really going to want to prep for the company itself. Because a lot of times you're gonna want to know where your job fits into the company and the greater overview of it, as well as the specifics of the job. But nowadays too, I feel like a lot of job listings aren't as specific as they should be in what you're actually going to be doing day to day.

So it's really a good idea to have a fully, a full view of what's going on at the company and why hiring you is important. So I think what you're gonna want to do is you're going to want to look this company up on Youtube. Definitely any type of material that they've posted on YouTube, watch the videos.

If the CEO is talking about something, watch the video, but go to their company website, read their news, read their about us. Find out how large the company is too, because then when you're talking to the recruiter or the hiring manager and you know how large the company is, and you know where the major, where the major headquarters of the company where that is and you understand the general overview of what they're doing and what they're in the news for right now, it's really going to help you, because you're going to look like you did your homework, which you did.

Ryan: Yeah. I think that the company research is definitely something that a lot of people don't do.

For me, it just gives you a better understanding of what this company does and how they make money and how they're going to make the money in order to pay you. Even if you're not in a profit center, even if you are at a cost center, at least understanding how they make money and what it is they do is going to really is going to really help a lot of what is happening in the job market as well is a lot of recruiters and hiring managers want to make sure that you are a good fit for the company culture as well, and that's what all the research prior does as well. It helps you to prepare for that what it is they do, what they stand for. If they're a green company or if they if they care about saving the dolphins, or if they care about finding people work or whatever their values are and whatever their mission is as a company, are you a good fit for that company culture? And you're not going to know that without looking them up. I think there are a lot of people that can do the job.

Hannah: Most people can do most work.

Ryan: They just want, they want to find somebody that can do the job, as well as fit in and understand what their company is doing.

Hannah: Yeah. I think I agree with that, and plus what that really does too, is it gives you, some common ground with the recruiter to connect as well, and because there's really nothing that you two know about each other, but the recruiter knows about the company, and their job is to hire for the company culture, as you said. And so if you can connect with them, but especially if you can connect with something about the company culture that genuinely excites you, you're more likely to get a good response and a good connection with that recruiter or hiring manager.

That gives you an edge for sure.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I think you have to remember that it's a conversation when you're having these interviews. It's a conversation, right? You do have some major points that you want to hit home. You want to tell them that you can do the job. You want to tell them that you want the job and you, you, need to hit a certain number of points that being said, it's a conversation between you and the person that you're talking to.

And you have to remember that. I think one of the things that we get asked a lot about is like general interview questions. They're like, tell me about yourself and why should we hire you? While we have our answers for that, one of the best things that we've seen of recent, at least is Sahil Bloom has a Twitter thread, has a tweet thread about all of these general questions. And while he doesn't give you an answer for them, he gives you the rubric or the framework in order to create your own answers. And it's pretty good. At least it gives you a place to start.

Hannah: I think it's one of the most comprehensive it's one of the most comprehensive overviews of those types of general questions I've ever seen for sure.

Ryan: And we'll, link to it in the show notes through degreefreenetwork.com.

Hannah: Be sure to check that out because it's just good for you to read through them and think about the answers to those questions before they're asked of you.

Ryan: Definitely having answers to the general questions is huge, and I think at a later day, probably part two of part, three of this will we'll give some specific answers to those questions.

This is just outside of the scope of this podcast. What we really want us to talk about in this though is practicing.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Is the practicing aspect of preparing.

Hannah: So Ryan is the king of practicing things. And it does, proper, preparation prevents piss poor performance as what they say.

And there's a reason they say that and that's because it's true. It really does make a difference, and there is a distinct difference in when I would go to go into interviews where I had not really, or I had done my version of preparation versus where I had done Ryan's version of preparation, which is to walk around and repeat things that he thinks they're going to ask him or, to drill those questions with me so that he gets some response and, that I found to be much more effective.

Ryan: And so I just go over, what my practice looks like or what practice, what I think practice looks like. But like I said before, when you're in an interview or anything that you care about right? It doesn't have to be necessarily a job interview, but it can be a television interview or a media interview, whatever, something where you have something to say, and you need to get it across to that other person on the other side of the table, you want to have practiced it before. You want those words, or at least that message to have come out of your mouth at some point prior to that happening, and that's where you really have to just say things out loud. And I know a lot of people that are like, no, I did preparation, and you're one of these people.

I did preparation and you've thought about it in your head and that's great. And that's where it all starts. You have to think about what it is you're going to say before you say it but there is often a disconnect I found with myself between the things that I think and the things that I say, and because I know that I always need to practice.

I am like the worst interviewee in the world. I'm like literally the worst interviewee.

Hannah: Ryan doesn't do good on first impressions.

Ryan: Yeah.

I'm not good at first impressions either. Yeah.

I'm not, I am not good at first impressions. I'm not, but. And because I know that I think is a reason why I have become a better interviewer and it's because I practice because I know that about myself and I practice.

And so what my practice routine looks like is I will have a pen and paper or I'll go on the computer and I will type out the question and I'll type out my answers. Sometimes I'll just do bullet points. As well.

Hannah: Sometimes they say that's better. They do that for speeches too. They say that bullet points are sometimes better than full sentences because then you don't get stuck if you miss part of the thought and then you can't complete it.

Ryan: Yeah. I agree with that. I find if I do go full sentences, where that helps me is it helps me get that, it helps me explore that train of thought. So tell me about yourself. I always say my name is Ryan Maruyama. I am a whatever engineer, whatever whatever it is that you are. And I've been in the industry for 11 years whatever, And then if I have written this out. Now at this point, I'd be like, wow, this is super boring. Okay. Make it punch here. Like I, I am a engineering professional. That's been in this industry, this background in this, and this is why I can help your company right.

Hannah: Much better.

Ryan: If I wrote, that all down, I'd be able to cut the fluff out.

So if I'm prepping really well, it would probably look like question, answer in complete sentences. And then on a new document, I will then make bullet points and then I will use those bullet points to hit. To make sure that I hit them when I'm answering the question.

Hannah: I see.

Ryan: And what I find, as Hannah alluded to earlier, for myself, I find that at the beginning, just saying it out loud really helps.

I can be sitting down in the living room. I could be walking around the neighborhood. I could be walking around the house, just saying it out loud really helps me. And I did this for, I do this for interviews, but I also do this for sales pitches too. Like whenever I have to pitch something, like if I ever have to memorize sales pitch or something like that, I'll do this exact same process.

Anything where I need to convince somebody to give me something that I want.

Hannah: Sure.

Ryan: And after I've said it a few times out loud, I will record it and I'll record and just see how I sound and see where I can cut fillers and cut the fluff out. And this is a lot of work. This is a lot of work.

Yeah. But if you've listened to our previous episodes, you'll know that in order to get an interview, you need to apply to a hundred jobs.

Hannah: It's way more work to apply then to get the interview.

Ryan: So since you have this interview, you might as well do all this work.

Hannah: And then you don't have to do it again.

Ryan: Yep.

And you might not have to do it ever again. Knock this interview out of the park, do the work and then you're, and then you're good, right? Not guaranteed, but it's pretty good. It's better, it's better to prepare than not to not prepare.

Hannah: Absolutely.

Ryan: And I would record myself and then after recording myself, I will listen back and see.

Okay. I'm saying I'm too much or I'm not getting to the point quick enough here. This is I'm rambling here and I would just tighten it up.

Hannah: Okay.

How do you handle different types of job interviews? Do you do this for every single job interview or do you use older material? If it's for a similar job interview?

Ryan: The material is not really what I'm talking about at this point. Like the content of what I'm saying, okay, to answer your question, every job is different, right? You could have a sales interview template. When you've had enough sales interviews, you can have a customer service template once you had enough customer service interview, but these skills, and these techniques transcend the job.

Hannah: Okay. Yeah. I'm just clarifying because I thought somebody in the audience might have that question.

Ryan: Yeah. So you do this for anything. Okay. Do you do this always, for every interview, it doesn't matter. The company, doesn't matter the job, doesn't matter if it's a sales pitch. Once I've gotten it a little bit better.

I like to have, and you know this, I like to ask somebody to interview me, and at least I can, if especially if it's going to be one-on-one. I can look you in the eye and we can do an interview.

Hannah: So he'll give me the questions and then I'll ask the questions out of order.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. And so she's just if there's 15 questions that I've prepared for, then I just give her the questions and then she just randomly picks three of them and then we'll do it. We'll do an interview or to pick five.

Hannah: I feel like it's mostly at most interviews are not more than five.

Ryan: Yeah.

Hannah: Because you don't have time.

Ryan: And where this practice doesn't give you, like practicing is not,

Hannah: Panel interviews?

Ryan: Not panel interviews, but yeah,

that too, but no more like the conversational aspect of it. Right?

Because even with the best practice person, the person helping you, they're just going to be going through the motions because they're not the interviewer and they don't have, they're not trying to interview for a job. And so it's going to be a lot of you just sounding like a broken record over and over again.

And that's normal. But that's good because you want to have had those thoughts come out of your mouth a bunch of times in different ways.

Hannah: Exactly.

Ryan: Yeah. Where I think nowadays what's different, if it's a gonna be a zoom interview and you're going to do that thing on your phone or on your computer.

What I would suggest doing is I would suggest setting up your setup. However it is that you're going to do it, and you practice like that. So it's, a zoom interview and you're going to do it on your phone, just set your phone up exactly the way that you're going to have it in whatever phone holder that you have.

Ideally you want it stationary. You don't want to be doing an interview. You don't want to be all shaky cam.

Hannah: No. Set your phone somewhere. Good gracious.

Ryan: Yeah. And, talk into the phone and record yourself while you practice.

Hannah: Sorry, this is off the wall thought, but side tip for anybody who's doing this would be to turn your camera off and turn your sound off until the interviewer has arrived.

Do not wait there with your camera on and your sound on for a zoom interview. Cause you'll just weird yourself out and you look like a weirdo. Cause you got a smile and you're sitting there smiling for five minutes before they show up, and then when they do finally get there, you're all surprised. Just turn your camera off and your sound off until the interviewer shows up and then turn them on and say, oh hi.


Ryan: And it also, if you don't mute your mic, then you might be talking to somebody and then yeah, you might be, they might hear something that you don't want them to hear. By turning this out by turning your mic off and by turning the video off.

Hannah: You're controlling your first impression.

Ryan: Yeah. You can control the way that this person experiences you for the first time.

Hannah: And then you don't happen to them. You intentionally turn off your camera and your microphone.

Ryan: Exactly.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: But yeah, so that is a huge thing because it is different to do this, what we're doing face-to-face right now. And it is different to monologue into a camera.

Kind of like how I'm doing to this camera right now. Like it's different. And being camera shy, even though it is a conversation that is a real thing. And you, especially since you've, especially if you've never done it before, and you're just speaking into an empty room and you're just like, oh the hell. So recording yourself, in the fashion that you're going to be doing the interview. If it's face-to-face recording yourself while you're doing a face-to-face practice with somebody, find a loved one, find a friend, hire somebody to do it, whatever. Find somebody to help you with it, and if you are going to be interviewing over the phone or on a zoom meeting or something like that, record yourself in the setup that you're going to, that you're going to do it.

That's going to help you out tremendously. It's going to get all the butterflies out. It will also help you with some of the technical aspects of it as well.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: Especially if you're using your computer and your camera set up and everything like that.

Hannah: Yeah. Knowing where it's going to be set and how it's going to be everything.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And then the last thing that I want to talk about is that okay, I'll go into more depth in a later episode, but just quickly, you're going to write out all of these questions and it's going to be tell me about yourself, why should we hire you? Why this company, what experience do you have?

All of these really generic questions, but also questions that are specific to the job. Be prepared they might not ask you that exact question.

Hannah: Offshoot of that question.

Ryan: It can be very similar or it cannot be similar at all, but you have a talking point that you need to hit or that you'd like to hit.

And find a way to weave it back into what it is that you want to talk about.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: So if it's tell me about yourself and why should we hire you? That can be the same question or you can give the same answer for that question. So don't trip yourself up.

Hannah: Yeah.

Don't feel like you use the answer already, so you can't use it again.

Just bring it back around and say it slightly different.

Ryan: Or maybe not that, but rather if you've prepared for tell me about yourself and they throw you a curve ball and they say, why should I hire you? Then you're like, oh my God, I didn't, you should be prepping for that. You should be prepping for that question, but don't freak out and don't be like, oh my God, I didn't prep for that question.

You're like, okay, I did prep for that question. It's tell me about yourself. And then you just give them that answer. But you just say it in a way, which answers that question. And just the way I think of it, very similar to sales in that when I speak about sales, I think about you have a deck, you have playing cards and you have a bunch of cards in your hand and the person across the table from you doesn't know what's in your hand.

But you know that in order to get this job, you need to play these cards, all of these cards down. The game is the order in which you play the cards down. So the cards are the preparation that you've done. The answers that you practiced over and over again at this point, and when this person plays an eight, when you thought he should've played a Jack you're ready to play something else on top of the eight and not just on top of the Jack, if that makes sense.

Hannah: Yeah. Yeah. It's eight, you turn it back to this, to the suit you want to play in.

Ryan: Something like that.

Hannah: Yeah.

Ryan: But I think as far as this type of preparation, That this is pretty much it for, today. It's gonna be quick. We just really want to talk about the practice that goes into the preparation.

Yes. There are a lot of interview questions that we are going to get to at a later date, and we're going to create resources for you guys and everything, but just practicing out loud and with somebody else is huge.

Hannah: It really helps.

Ryan: Yeah, definitely. I could tell just from you anecdotally from the times that we've practiced before an interview.

And from times that you didn't practice, I felt like you came out of those interviews. You might not have got the job, but you felt much better about it.

After you've practiced.

Hannah: I would agree.

Yeah. I think that's all for today. Folks, as we've said, you don't want to miss the newsletter. It's got cool stuff in it, and you're going to want to know what's happening because we do talk about companies that are hiring resources.

You can use different tech certifications that we see a lot of potential in and courses, all kinds of stuff really. So make sure to head to the website, which is degreefreenetwork.com and sign up for the newsletter, which is totally free, and then do not forget to and subscribe because it helps us help you and it helps other people find us, even though they don't know we exist yet.

Ryan: Yeah. Definitely not a lot of people know that we exist yet. You are in on the ground floor.

Hannah: It's a private club and you are here.

Ryan: Yes. But yeah, if you guys want to get in touch with us, we'd love to hear from you guys. And a lot of times it ends up into podcast episodes. A lot of the questions that we get. [email protected] is the best way to do it. Also follow us on social media, I'm at @ryankmaruyama. She's at @hannahmaruyama, and the podcast is @degreefreepod. All right, guys, that's it. Until next time, aloha.

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