How do you separate yourself from the pack when interviewing for your next healthcare IT consulting assignment?
To quote NFL quarterback Russell Wilson, “the separation is in the preparation.”
If you’re a veteran consultant, you may not feel like you need to prepare for job interviews. But in our experience, interview prep is an important and often critical differentiator that can reduce anxiety, increase confidence, and help ensure that your answers are in line with what hiring managers want to hear.
Perhaps you know that you should prep, but don’t know how to go about it. Don’t worry. We have you covered below with top tips from our experienced Consultant Advisors.
Prep with Your Recruiter
For starters, make sure that you and your Consultant Advisor/Recruiter make time for a pre-interview briefing. This is the opportunity for both of you to talk frankly about the expectations of the hiring manager and to learn more about the skills required for the role. We can often provide you specific questions that the interviewer will ask, and help you prepare your responses.
This is also when you should ask us any nagging questions you may have about the assignment. If you have doubts about your fit for a job, better to express them in advance rather than air them during the job interview.
Learn about the Hiring Manager
If your interviewer is on LinkedIN, look at their profile. “You may find past work experiences, mutual connections, or areas of common interest that give you an advantage,” says Consultant Advisor Dimple Kochikar. Knowing the technical background and title of the interviewer can also be useful information, she adds.
Understand the Job and the Project
Even if you know the job title (and make sure that you do), the devil is in the details. You should also know and have the full job description and required skills, the name of the employer, the job location and duration, and any other specifics that help you sound informed to the interviewer. If the job is part of a larger team engagement or project, your staffing firm should tell you where this role fits in the big picture for the employer.
“Are you coming in at the beginning of the project or mid-implementation? Are you replacing someone? All of these are critical details that give candidates valuable context,” says Consultant Advisor Andy Bryant.
Know (and Print) Your Resume
Don’t get tripped up trying to recall your work history from memory. Your interviewer will use your resume as a guide for the interview—so you should have your resume printed and directly in front of you for reference.
You and your agency may maintain multiple, edited versions of your resume, so make sure that you have a copy of the same resume that was submitted to the employer. Re-read the resume and highlight or circle experiences and projects that are comparable to the job you are interviewing for.
Answer Like a S-T-A-R
Interview questions take a variety of forms, but often center around your skills and past experiences. When asked about those experiences, practice framing your answers using the S-T-A-R technique outlined below:
- Situation: Describe the situation that you were in
- Task: Describe what you needed to accomplish
- Action: Outline the actions you took
- Result: Describe the outcome (ideally positive) from your actions
The S-T-A-R format keeps your responses concise and on point, says Consultant Advisor Candace Bush. Bush also reminds candidates to stop talking after the “R” in S-T-A-R, allowing the interviewer to make notes and go on to the next question.
Say “I” Instead of “We”
It’s common to discuss past projects from a team perspective (e.g. “We gathered the requirements…”). But in technical job interviews, it’s important to show that you can do the work and highlight your specific skills versus team accomplishments. Frame responses using “I” instead of “We” so there is no question as to what you can and can’t do.
Answering questions this way may feel uncomfortable to you—all the more reason to practice, perhaps in a mock interview with your recruiter. Saying “I” more often should make you sound confident and competent, says Consultant Advisor Caitlin Gentry.
Close the Deal
The best candidates make a clear and compelling case that they are the right person for the role. Since interviews often end in an open ended fashion (e.g. “Is there anything else you want to add?...”), use the last 30 seconds of your time to reiterate why you can absolutely hit the ground running and do the job. In fact, bullet out your closing statement in advance so you can repeat it with confidence.
“Hiring managers are under an enormous amount of pressure to complete projects under tight deadlines. When you can come across as a ‘sure-thing’ consultant, I believe that is the best way to get an offer,” says Consultant Advisor Justin Couch.
You Be You
In the end, your preparation should be about accentuating your strongest attributes as a candidate, not trying to be someone you’re not, reminds Consultant Advisor Christine Woods. And one last tip before you interview—smile. Whether on the phone or in-person, interviewers respond favorably to positive, happy people, says Woods.