Last-Minute Interview Preparation: 1 Hour Strategies!

interview tips Feb 28, 2022
Last-minute interview panic

What if you only have one hour, four hours or eight hours to prepare for your interview? Over the course of the next three articles, I will break it down and provide proven last-minute interview prep strategies. These will help you get ready for your job interview with limited time.

Today, we will focus on the one-hour prep strategies. This is a truly last-minute scenario when an interview time opens up and you need to prepare as quickly as possible.

First, let’s break down our hour into four 15-minute intervals with specific 5-minute objectives within each category. This is how you optimize your time when 60 minutes is all you have:

  •   15 Minutes: High-Level
  •   15 Minutes: Behavioral
  •   15 Minutes: Open-Ended
  •   15 Minutes: Logistics 

Item #1—High-Level Details

We’re going to break this interval down even further into three primary components with five minutes of prep time for each:

  1.   Research (5 min)—Research the company. Get a sense of their brand, culture and identity. You don’t have much time, so keep it simple and high-level. 
  2.   Job Description (5 min)—Review the job description. Identify a couple key themes and important points that you can use to organize your approach.
  3.   Skills/Strengths (5 min)—Correlate your own skills and strengths to match with those key job description terms.

This 15 minutes of high-level focus will help you answer questions like:

  •   Tell me about yourself.
  •   Why are you interested in this company?
  •   Why should we hire you? 

Item #2—Behavioral Answers

I always want you to be thinking about the S.T.A.R. method (Situation. Task. Actions. Results.) when it comes to your behavioral answers. This is a great strategy to help you organize your behavioral examples, especially when your prep time is so limited. You will at least come away with a few examples and an idea of how you want to structure your responses. Here’s how to break down this 15-minute interval:

  1.   Actions (5 min)—Identify the three biggest initiatives, projects or programs in which you have been involved. Think about the key ways you contributed by focusing on what you personally did. 
  1.   Situation/Task (5 min)—Get comfortable stating your role in the company, outlining the key stakeholders, the major challenge you were facing, and the timeline to make it happen.
  2.   Results (5 min)—Think about any results that are relevant and important, such as measurable data points or repeatable processes.

Item #3—Open-Ended Answers

For this section, I want you to use the C.F.A.S. method (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.). This is the best strategy to prepare for common open-ended questions you may be asked during your interview. Break it down as follows:

  1.   Clarify (5 min)—Think thematically about the few items you are likely to face in this role. Come up with a brief list of basic clarifying questions to ask your interviewer.
  2.   Framework (5 min)—Focus on high-level items that will be critical in this role. Review your previous notes and the job description themes to help you correlate 3-5 key topics you should address in your open-ended answers.
  3.   Assumptions/Solution (5 min)—Consider some likely scenarios you will face in your role and how they correlate with what you have done in the past.

Item #4—Logistics

Finally, you will spend your remaining 15 minutes preparing for the logistics of the interview. We’re going to assume this last-minute interview is happening via video. Use this time to get yourself ready:

  1.   Setup (5 min)—Get your webcam set up. Make sure your lighting, eye level and audio are all good. Check your internet/wi-fi connection, get a glass of water and have everything ready to go.
  2.   Grooming (5 min)—Now, you have just five minutes to make yourself look presentable. Get yourself cleaned up, throw on a nice shirt and do whatever you have to do to look as nice as you can for the interview. 
  1.   Meditation (5 min)—Last but not least, take five minutes to relax and turn off your mind for a little bit. Some meditation is better than none, so use this time to center yourself and focus on the task ahead. 

To see the full video on this topic (including the 4-hour and 8-hour interview prep strategies I will be covering in more detail the next two weeks), watch below:

For all your interview coaching needs, be sure to follow my YouTube channel, keep up with my blog or sign up on Practice Interviews for additional interview prep resources.


Jeff H. Sipe

Jeff has interviewed over 1000 people in his career and previously spent five years working at Google headquarters in Silicon Valley. You likely found Jeff through YouTube and you will find the same level of dedication in his one on one practice interview sessions.

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