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112 | Behind the scenes: what to expect (& how to prepare) when you are interviewed on HR Coffee Time
Episode 11224th November 2023 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
00:00:00 00:24:26

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Go behind the scenes of HR Coffee Time and learn what to expect if you’re a guest on the show, and how to set yourself up for a successful interview. In this episode, Fay explains:

  • The benefits of being a guest on HR Coffee Time
  • Overcoming nervousness and preparing for the interview
  • The interview process
  • Tips for a successful interview
  • Technical aspects of the interview
  • Tips to reduce filler words
  • The importance of keeping the audience in mind
  • How to become a guest on HR Coffee Time


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Fay Wallis:

Welcome back to HR Coffee Time. It's great to have you here. I'm your host, Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach with a background in HR, and I've made this podcast especially for you to help you have a successful and fulfilling HR or People career without working yourself into the ground. If you're listening to this near to when it goes live,

e released the HR Planner for:


Because I know how incredible I know how incredibly busy you are and how easy it is to put your own development and aspirations to the side while you're supporting everyone else in the organisation. I also know how easy it is to get overwhelmed. So that's why I created the HR Planner for you, to help you get clear on what you want to achieve for your career and work next year, and get it all planned out and organised, so you don't feel like you're always falling behind or getting stressed out.


I hope you absolutely love using it if you decide to give it a try. But now let's move on to the main focus of today's episode. You probably know that I tend to have two types of guests on this show. They're either other coaches, consultants, authors, or business owners who have expertise in a certain area that I don't have, or the other type of guest is an HR or People professional

just like you, who come on the show to generously share their career and work experiences with all of us. There are lots of advantages to being a guest on HR Coffee Time. The main one is that you're able to help all of the people who tune in to listen to your episode by sharing your knowledge with them.

But other advantages are that appearing as a guest raises your profile and it showcases Is your expertise. If you are an HR or People professional, it's a great thing to add to your CV to share on LinkedIn and to add to your LinkedIn profile. The organization that you work for may well be thrilled if you appear as a guest because if you mention them, it helps to give their profile a boost too. If you are not an HR or People professional, appearing as a guest also raises your profile and it showcases your expertise. But it often leads to listeners getting in touch to book your services. Or if you're an author, they may well go ahead and buy your book. I also know that some people get really nervous about the idea of being a guest on the podcast, and I totally understand that.


I personally get nervous going on other podcasts as a guest myself, even though I've recorded 112 episodes of HR Coffee Time, being a guest feels a bit more vulnerable than being the host. You can worry about things like your mind going blank or saying the wrong thing. So I thought I would make this episode to help.


In it, I'm going to talk you through what to expect on the day of recording when you're a guest. And how to set yourself up for a successful and enjoyable interview experience. Even if you never decide to come on the show, I hope you enjoy listening to it, and that it gives you a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes to bring the show to you every week.

If you're going to be a guest on the show, we will always have had a chat on a date that is at least a week before we're due to record the episode together, and this chat takes place on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, whichever you prefer using, and it gives us both the chance to get to know each other a little bit.

You can ask me any questions you might have, we can talk about the topic that we're going to cover together on the show. And we might even have time to start drafting some of the questions that I'll ask you during your guest interview. I'm very open to feedback and your input, especially as you're probably going to be talking about something that I'm not necessarily an expert in, so you know more about it than I do.


Which means that sometimes you may be able to suggest questions to me that you think are going to be particularly helpful for me to ask because you know the answers are going to be interesting to the listeners. So if that's the case and you have some ideas for questions, please do feel free to share them with me and I can see about including them.

I'll then aim to send you the final draft of the questions that I'm planning on asking you a week before your interview date, so that you've got time to review the questions before we have the interview. We're always aiming for the HR Coffee Time episodes to be about 30 minutes long, which means that we only need to have 25 minutes of recorded audio for our interview because I'll record an introduction to the episode and an outro for the episode separately and when I add all of those things on that will come to around about 30 minutes.


That means that I'm only going to send you between about six and eight questions to answer because if I send you more than that I know that we'll run out of time in the interview or it will overrun. But while you're answering those six to eight questions, I will often ask one or two spin off questions in the moment of recording because you're probably going to mention something particularly interesting that I didn't know was going to come up and I think the audience would like to hear more about.

There is one question that I ask almost every guest who comes on the show, which is, please can you either share your nonfiction book recommendation with us? Or can you share a confidence building tip? I used to always only ask for the non fiction book recommendation, but after a couple of guests mentioned that they weren't big readers, I introduced the confidence building option as well.

As we'll be short on time, because 25 minutes to 30 minutes isn't actually very long, especially when I know that you know lots about the topic that you're here to talk to me about and to talk to the audience about. Please can you just choose to answer with either a book recommendation or a confidence building tip instead of trying to answer both?


Because... Even though I know your answers to both would be fabulous, it's really important that we stick to keeping the episode at the right length, because I know that the audience likes consistency, and when I have let episodes overrun, often I can see from the listening stats that people don't listen all the way to the end, because they're not used to having to allow that bit of extra time.

And the regular listeners will often have a set time and day of the week when they are listening to the show. It's always a good idea to have read the questions beforehand so you aren't having to completely think of the answers while you're on the spot. You don't need to have learnt your answers off by heart.

In fact, I think that that can end up making you feel even more nervous. Because you start to worry you'll forget a line, or you end up not sounding like you would normally, as if you were having a regular conversation. And we want the listeners to feel like they're sitting next to us while we're having a chat over a cup of coffee, rather than delivering a formal talk.


So, instead of worrying about learning your answers off by heart, lots of guests find it helpful to just have a few bullet points of what they would like to say when they're answering the questions, just to remind them of the key points that they'd like to cover. You also might want to practice answering the questions out loud a couple of times.

Just to start getting yourself in the rhythm of answering them, not to memorise them. It's absolutely fine to have your notes or your bullet points with you during the interview. You'll see that I have got notes with me too, and that I'll often check my notes and the questions that I'm asking you as we work our way through the interview, because I can't keep them all in my head unfortunately.

If you've got them printed off on paper though just be careful not to move the paper around in case the rustling sound gets picked up by the microphone. At the moment when we record the interview the software that I use records the video and the audio.


Up until now I've only been releasing the audio but in the future I might start releasing video as well, because I keep thinking about whether I should be putting the podcast on YouTube too, and I also might start releasing clips of the video. So if you could make sure that you have an uncluttered background behind you, that would be wonderful, just in case I do end up using some of the video.

I'll have sent you a calendar invite with a link embedded in it to join me for the interview. I live in Banstead in Surrey, and if you live nearby, you are very welcome to come and join me in person for recording the interview in my home office. Only two of the guests have done this so far. Melissa Blissett for episode 14.

which was understanding and fixing your organization's gender pay gap, and Sue Colton for episode 75. What psychometrics are, how you can use them, and why they're so helpful. It's always wonderful to meet guests in real life, so please do let me know if you'd like to record in person. But if, like most guests, you need to record the episode virtually, I use recording software called Riverside.


It's really easy to use. All you have to do is click on the link that is embedded in the calendar invite I will have sent you and you'll be able to join me online for the recording session. You don't need to worry about downloading any software at your end. If you have a professional microphone that plugs into your computer to record the episode, it would be great to use that, as the sound will be so much better than using the microphone that is built into your computer.

But if you don't have a professional microphone, please don't worry. Plenty of the episodes so far have been recorded without one, and they've all been absolutely fine. It's really helpful if you can wear headphones though, and they just need to be plugged into your computer while we record the episode together.


That is because the software records your audio at your end, and then it uploads everything you've said into the cloud. And that means that it records what you're saying, not what I'm saying. It also separately records my audio at my end, and then it uploads what I've been saying into the cloud. So I end up with two separate audio tracks that I have mixed together for the episode.

And what this means is that if there's any background noise at my end while you're speaking, or there's any background noise at your end while I'm speaking, if we're both wearing headphones, the audio recorded by the other person won't pick up that background noise because it's not coming through to the speaker.

So it means it's so much easier to edit out any unexpected dogs barking in the background or knocks at the front door or things like that. And in fact, talking about background noise, I have learnt the hard way to stick a sign on my front door explaining that I'm recording a podcast, and please can any deliveries be left with a neighbour, please don't ring the bell or knock on the door.


If any of my family are at home, I ask them all to be quiet and to look after the dogs for me so they don't start barking. I also make sure that my children aren't playing video games online. Because that can slow down the broadband and that can affect the connection and the recording quality. So you might want to do all of these things too if you're going to be recording from home and you don't want to end up feeling stressed out by anyone barging into the room because they didn't realise you were recording or ringing the doorbell and hammering on the door.

You'll also want to make sure that wherever you're recording, you're in a quiet space for recording the interview. If you're in an echoey room with lots of hard surfaces, a tip that I learned from Zoe Hawkins, who was a guest for episode 47, is to sit with a duvet on your lap because this can help reduce the echo and it gives a richer sound to the audio.


She recorded that whole interview with a big duvet on her lap because she was in quite an echoey room. When you click the link to join me for the interview, you'll be able to see me on the screen just as if we're having a Zoom or Teams call. If you're recording an episode with me where you'll be the only guest, we'll usually have an hour booked in to spend together, but we're only actually aiming to record 25 to 30 minutes of audio, like I mentioned earlier.

We have the hour so that we've got time to have a chat beforehand to help you relax and feel comfortable and I can check that you're happy with all of the questions or make any changes to them, if you'd like me to. I'll also ask you to make sure that you've turned off any notifications on your computer.

And you've put your phone on silence before we start recording. And I'll make sure I've done that as well. Part of the reason I'll ask you to do it really is as a prompt for me, so that I remember to do it. So that neither of us has got notifications pinging in the background, or we suddenly find that the mobile phone starts ringing.


It's a good idea to have a big glass of water next to you in case your mouth starts to get dry while you're talking Or you suddenly find that you have a tickly throat. I always have a glass of water with me It's absolutely fine to pause and have a drink while we're recording. The audio is edited afterwards. So we can edit out any pauses whilst you're having a drink, if we need to.

And talking about drinks, it can also be a good idea to have had a warm drink just before recording, to help warm up your mouth and your vocal chords. But lots of people recommend avoiding coffee because the caffeine can make you feel jittery. And weirdly, apparently coffee, because it's a diuretic, is that the right word?

It draws moisture away from your body, so it doesn't actually end up making your mouth all nice and ready for the interview. I often just have a mint tea before I hit the record button.


Coming back to editing, a really important thing to let you know is that you don't have to record all of your answers in one long take.

It's my aim for each episode to be as interesting and helpful for the listeners as possible, but also another one of my aims is for you to look good as a guest! I'm not an interviewer who wants to make her guest squirm or look bad. My style is the absolute opposite of that. If you've been kind enough to come on the show to share your experience and expertise, I want the experience to be as positive for you as possible.

So if you stumble over an answer or your mind goes blank, please don't worry at all. It's absolutely fine. Just take a moment and say, Fay, can I record that answer again? I will always say yes. Your stumble or pause can easily be edited out afterwards, so the listeners will never know that you answered that question more than once.


One thing I can't do though, while we're thinking about this editing, is I can't add in any extra audio after we've ended the recording of the interview. I have had one or two people ask me the next day if they can re record that answer to one particular question or just one sentence and have it edited in.

Unfortunately, even if we were to try to replicate the recording set up as much as possible so that we're both using the same equipment to record and we were both sat in the same room, The audio never ever sounds quite the same and it ends up being jarring to the listener because they can tell that something is different.

So if you want to re record any of your answers or part of any of your answers, please let me know while we are still recording because it's going to be too late to let me know afterwards unfortunately. Two other important things I think it's helpful to share with you to help you come across as well as possible and to help make the episode as strong as possible are to avoid using filler words and keep the audience in mind.


And I'll explain what I mean by both these things in a bit more detail. Filler words are words like er, um, you know, like. We use them all the time when we're speaking but we tend to ramp up the amount of them if we're nervous or we're trying to think of what to say when we're put on the spot. There are always going to be a few filler words in each podcast episode because it's so normal to use them, but it can feel a bit distracting if there are lots and lots of them.

It can be harder to follow and pay attention to what you're trying to say. That's why I recommend having read the questions in advance, jotted down any key points you're going to say and practiced answering some of the questions out loud instead of just thinking about the answers in your head. It makes it much more likely that you'll kick into autopilot in the interview and you'll remember what to say.


But one other tip that I have found really helps me to not use filler words too much is to just pause when I think I'm about to use them. We often use a filler word while we're thinking. So instead of saying uh, um, or you know, just pause and give yourself time to think. I promise that the pause won't be noticeable at all.

In fact, it's always a good idea to try to slow down your pace of speaking while you're being interviewed and pausing can help with this. I personally find it difficult to slow down the speed that I'm talking at when I'm interviewed on other podcasts where I'm normally feeling a little bit nervous but I do find it much easier to pause instead of saying uh or um lots of times and now I find that if I am interviewed I'm not using filler words much at all.


I promise if I can do it then you can absolutely do it too, it's a really easy little trick and it does work. If you're worried because you paused and it did end up being a very, very long pause... Which is very unlikely, but let's just imagine that's what happened. It wouldn't matter, because I can just edit the pause out.

I can edit that pause right down so it's just a tiny pause instead of a massive pause. It is much easier to edit pauses than it is to edit out filler words because we tend to say the filler word so close to our other words that they almost blend together. And then that makes them really hard to edit out without it sounding obvious that something has been cut. But silence

because you're pausing, that is really easy to cut out, so never worry about pausing and silence. In the absolute worst case scenario, if you find you are really nervous on the day and you just end up using loads and loads of filler words, and pausing doesn't help, practicing doesn't help. Please don't worry, that has happened with a couple of guests before and it's been absolutely fine.


We have just treated that initial interview as if it was a practice and then we have set another date for recording it again and I've sent them the transcript of what it was we recorded and they're then able to use that to answer the questions so they're almost using it like a script and reading off of it but just skipping out all of the uh's and um's and likes and you know and it's worked really really well. So just to reassure you even if you think oh my goodness what if I follow all of this advice but I still end up getting nervous, it doesn't matter we can just record it again. I'm not going to put out anything that's not going to make you look as good as possible so please don't worry about that. Now that we've covered the filler words, that brings me to the final piece of advice for setting yourself up for success for the interview that I mentioned earlier, and that was about keeping the audience in mind.


The goal of every HR Coffee Time episode is it for it to be a helpful resource that the person listening to it thinks, that was so useful, I can't wait to put some of the advice and ideas into action. If you're an HR or People professional, you don't need to worry about this too much. Because you're immersed in the world that the audience is in, so what you share and what you say is going to naturally resonate with everyone listening.

But if you're not an HR or People professional... This might take a little bit more thought. You're going to probably find it helpful to hop back and listen to some of the previous episodes of the podcast to get a feel for the tone and the approach because all podcasts are different. HR Coffee Time has got quite a different feel to a lot of other HR focused podcasts.


So then once you've got that feel, the other thing to bear in mind is please try to make sure that any examples you give, any hypothetical situations you share, or any case studies you introduce are chosen because they're going to resonate with the listeners, because then that is going to help bring your ideas to life more vividly for them.

But ultimately, HR Coffee Time listeners are intelligent, hard working, committed, kind, and passionate People professionals that you're talking to. They will be rooting for you to do well in your interview, just like I will be.

That brings us to the end of this episode. I really hope that you enjoyed it. I know it was a bit different to normal.

I hope that it was helpful, whether it was good to learn more about what goes on behind the scenes when recording HR Coffee Time. Or because you're thinking of being a guest on the show or perhaps you're even booked to be a guest on the show. If you would like to be a guest on the show, all you have to do is pick a topic that you know about that hasn't been covered on HR Coffee Time before and then fill in a podcast guest application form.


You can find that form on my website, Bright Sky Career Coaching, and I'll also pop a link to it in the show notes for you. Or, if you're not ready now, but you are curious to find out when I'm next going to be looking for guests to come on the show, then I would recommend making sure that you're subscribed to my free weekly HR Coffee Time email, because whenever I think, hmm, there are quite a few topics I'd really like to have

some guests on the show to cover, especially HR and People practitioners who are live in their role right now doing the work, then what I tend to do is just email all of my email subscribers and say, these are the topics I'd like to cover. Are you interested? Would you be happy to come on the show to talk about it?


So please do make sure you're getting those emails and again I'll pop a link to sign up to subscribe to the emails in the show notes. Thank you so much, have a wonderful week and I'm looking forward to being back again next Friday with the next episode for you and perhaps to meeting you as a guest on the show in the future.