Chapter 05

Setting Preparation Standards and Timelines

One of the biggest mistakes people make while preparing for an interview, is they forget to prepare timelines and set standards to follow. More often than not, people treat interviews casually - instead, my recommendation would be to treat an interview as you would an exam. Timelines are extremely important when it comes to interview prepping. If you don’t set yourself a deadline, your preparation won’t be complete - and that’s basically a recipe for losing a shot at an interview you otherwise had an excellent chance at.

As the final chapter in your journey towards planning your interview preparation strategy, this chapter helps you set out timelines and standards to match your goals. All the hard work and perseverance you put into the previous chapters of finalizing your domain, target companies, understanding roles and requirements and resources will now be helpful as we move into the execution and implementation stages of your interview prep.

If someone were to ask me, if I had time only to read 2 chapters in this interview preparation guide, which would it be? This chapter would definitely be one of them, with the revision section being the other.

Step 1: Based on the target role

• Subject area-specific resources

As insane as this sounds, draw yourself a calendar and put down interview preparation related goals on it. Keeping a calendar will help you stick to your timelines and give you preparation prompts to keep the process going. Many people end up underestimating the interview process - and regretting this decision later. Don’t be a part of that crowd.

One of the most important aspects of an interview is setting yourself certain timelines in terms of the preparation, and sticking to it. For example, if you have identified that you have certain core subjects you need to brush up on, and you have purchased resources to undertake this process, then give yourself some time according to your interview calendar to fully commit to this.

How to allocate time on your interview calendar

No person knows you better than yourself.

Keep this in mind when allocating time for various items of preparation. After self-evaluating your abilities and identifying the resources you need to get through the preparation stage, one of the best ways to gauge how much time a particular part of the preparation may require, is by trying your hand at it.

For example, if you think you need to learn a core subject, then try solving some questions to assess where you currently stand. If this exercise tells you that you need a lot of preparation, factor it into your calendar accordingly. To understand your current levels, take some practice tests and mock interviews. This will tell you exactly where your abilities lie and where you need to improve.

Step 2: Mock interviews

When finalising timelines, put in some time for interview revisions and mock interviews. Oftentimes, during interview prep, candidates feel they are doing great, but how can you be sure that’s the case? The reason for asking candidates to ‘set aside’ time to conduct mock interviews is because they help you gauge improvement points. Mock interviews give you feedback and with a little buffer time in hand, you can easily make changes in your interview preparation strategy and schedule. You can incorporate that feedback to improve your preparation and review and have adequate time to learn from your mistakes.

Taking a mock interview is a great way to practice for the real thing, and is worth all the time you have. Schedule your preparation timeline around a few mock interviews. Make time to schedule mock interviews on platforms like Preplaced, where you can speak to experts or peers who have considerable experience in giving as well as taking interviews. Some other mock interview platforms you could consider are InterviewBuddy, Pramp, TryExponent and Choose the platform that’s best suited to your requirements.

Step 3: Goal Setting

Setting goals are as important as achieving them. Remember, that to ace your interview, you need to first have a goal in mind. People don’t give goal-setting enough importance. Setting clear goals helps people to set aside proper timelines, and allows them to achieve their goals in a more systematic manner. To set goals effectively, follow these steps:

  • Identify goals and timelines; clearly set them out. For example, if your goal is to learn the basics of a new language, set yourself roughly 4-6 weeks of daily studying to achieve this.
  • Let’s continue with the example of learning a new language - have you factored in how many hours a day you will dedicate to this? Do it. It’s important not just to set timelines in terms of the number of days, but the more specific you get about your goals, the easier it is to quantitatively factor them out and achieve them.
  • What is an outer date for the completion of your interview preparation? Set clear dates. For example, if your interview is scheduled for the 20th of January, ensure that you are well prepared at least 2 days in advance.
  • For many people, goal setting also involves setting out timelines for making job applications. You can set yourself certain timelines and deadlines to apply for certain positions in a more refined manner.

Goal setting can be a tricky aspect of your planning stage - but is extremely important. It is often recommended that you seek professional help and expertise of experienced peers and mentors to finalize your interview plan. Planning incorrectly can negatively impact your entire strategy, and your result. Ensure that your plan is completely right and only then move on to the preparation stage.

Irrespective of whether you are preparing for an interview at extremely short notice, or have a decent amount of time in hand, setting out timelines is always helpful. Timelines help in creating actionable and achievable goals, and go a long way in ensuring you are in complete control of your interview process and preparation.

Exercise -

  1. To ensure your interview plan is absolutely right (and to stop you from delaying your entire planning process because it wasn’t up to mark) check out tools like Preplaced. Preplaced offers candidates with unique services dedicated specifically to goal setting. Here, candidates have the ability to have 1 on 1 sessions with experienced mentors and recruiters from leading companies globally, to help you prepare the perfect calendar for your interview preparation.