Last-Minute Interview Preparation: 8-Hour Strategies!

interview tips Mar 09, 2022
last-minute interview panic

We’ve talked about how you can prepare with only one hour before your video interview (click here). We also covered the prep strategies when you have four hours (click here). Now, let’s imagine you have a full eight hours to prepare for an important job interview. It still isn’t that much time, but it definitely gives you a better opportunity to get yourself ready. 

Just like we did before, let’s break our eight hours into a specific time interval. This will help keep you organized and focused with your prep activities:

  •   1 Hour: High-Level
  •   2.5 Hours: Behavioral
  •   2.5 Hours: Open-Ended
  •   30 Minutes: Cheat Sheet
  •   1 Hour: Practice
  •   30 Minutes: Logistics

Item #1—High-Level Details

Compared to the other last-minute planning outlines, this is going to feel pretty good to have so much more preparation time. However, eight hours is still a last-minute interview in my book, so you have to allocate a certain amount of time to each high-level detail:

  1. Research (20 min)—You have enough time to dive into more comprehensive company research. You should be able to have a much better pulse on their mission, the core values, the verbiage and the themes. Remember to look them up in the news. This extra time can also allow you to see what’s trending in your specific space.
  2. Job Description (25 min)—You are going to get warm and cozy with that job description. Identify all the key themes and really familiarize yourself with the responsibilities and qualifications of the role. You might even want to take those keywords and throw them into a keyword finder to see which ones are coming to the top.
  3. Themes/Common Questions (15 min)—Spend the final 15 minutes focusing on the key themes and practicing common questions like "Tell me about Yourself," Why this company?", etc. Practice each question three times if you can. Use a stopwatch and try to keep each answer to about 60 seconds.

Item #2—Behavioral Answers

Always utilize the S.T.A.R. method (Situation. Task. Actions. Results.) for your behavioral answer preparation. Each step should be broken down as follows:

  1. Actions (1 hour)—Really open it up and try to put together seven behavioral examples. Go through each project/initiative and think about the high-level actions you took. How did you personally contribute? You have more time here to think about everything you did and how it made a difference. Also come up with two “mini” actions to support each larger action.
  2. Situation/Task (30 min)—Get yourself more comfortable talking about your role and company, identifying the key stakeholders (internal and external), and introducing your challenge (in one sentence). Lastly, state your major task(s) and the timeline it took to complete it. 
  1. Results (30 min)—If you have seven behavioral examples, you should be able to devote about four minutes outlining the results for each example. Think about critical results such as numbers and relationships. Remember to identify one repeatable process for each example.
  2. Tie it Together (30 min)—Now, you will have time to take all the pieces of each example and put them together into one answer that you can practice in full. Roll through each example and feel the flow. This process will be super helpful when it comes time to actually present your behavioral answers during the interview.

Item #3—Open-Ended Answers

Stick to the C.F.A.S. method (Clarify. Framework. Assumptions. Solution.) for your open-ended answer preparation:

  1. Clarify (30 min)—Use your full half-hour to focus on your clarifying questions. Target five questions/themes that are going to be likely concepts you will want to clarify. Make sure the questions you are practicing are either/or or yes/no questions.
  2. Framework (45 min)—Ideally, you are creating three frameworks, but that may be pushing it with such limited time. At the very least, I want you to focus on at least one go-to framework. Just make sure you know the concepts backwards and forwards.
  3. Assumptions/Solution (45 min)—Since you have spent more time on the job description, you should be able to get deeper into your assumptions and solution. How would you utilize those key concepts in this job? What are the likely scenarios you will face and how do these expectations correlate with your past experience?
  4. Cadence/Transitions (30 min)—In many cases, your transitions and overall cadence are more important than your actual words. Work on grouping those clarifying questions, introducing the framework, and then smoothly transitioning to the assumptions. And lastly, really focus on creating a strong transition statement after your solution.

Item #4—Cheat Sheet

The next 30 minutes should be spent putting together your cheat sheet. With eight hours to prepare, you should have a cheat sheet that covers more ground, including the following key items:

  1. Themes (10 min)—Write down the key themes and high-level details that are most important.
  2. Behavioral Titles (10 min)—Title each behavioral answer for easy reference and to help you remember your examples.
  3. Clarifying Questions/Framework (10 min)—Take the time to write down all of your clarifying questions and outline your frameworks (at least one).

Item #5—Practice

Your eight-hour prep time may give you a chance to actually schedule some practice time with a human being. If not, you can still utilize this full hour of practice time to get yourself as prepared as possible by focusing on the following items:

  1. Five Behavioral Questions (30 min)—Focus on five behavioral questions and answers and practice walking through the S.T.A.R. method for each one.
  2. Five Open-Ended Questions (30 min)—Then, you will shift your focus to your open-ended questions and answers. Again, identify five key questions and use your practice time to really get comfortable with your C.F.A.S. responses.

Item #6—Logistics

The logistical preparation time with eight hours is the same as we outlined in the four-hour article. Take a half-hour to get yourself physically prepared for the video interview:

  1. Setup (5 min)—Make sure your audio and video are set up. Check the internet connection and test your lighting/sound.
  2. Grooming (5 min)—Get in front of the mirror and make sure you look good for your interview. Put on a nice shirt and groom yourself as needed.
  3. Meditation (20 min)—Finally, take a full 20 minutes to relax and do nothing. You’ve worked hard over the past eight hours to prepare for this important interview. Now, take the time to center yourself before showtime.

To see the full video on this topic (including the 1-hour and 4-hour interview prep strategies), watch below:

For all your interview coaching needs, be sure to check out my YouTube channel, follow 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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