Each partnership can help your career in different ways.

Everybody knows that cultivating a successful career is challenging. That is why entire industries have been developed to help professionals along the way, from their job searches to their performances at work to their overall career trajectories. Two of these fields are interview coaching and career coaching.

Carrying similar names and a shared mission to help professionals progress in their careers, interview coaching and career coaching are sometimes conflated and confused. However, they have distinct aspects that make them uniquely valuable to workers at different stages of their careers.

Here is a breakdown of what interview coaches and career coaches can do for you, as well as guidance on when they will — and won't — be beneficial for you.

How are interview coaching and career coaching the same?

At their core, both interview and career coaching are tools to help you in your career. Both consist of partnering with an expert who will offer you feedback and guidance as you work your way through your professional endeavors and toward your career goals.

Beyond that, interview coaching and career coaching are also similar in that they are both one-on-one, personalized experiences. When you work with an interview coach, the focus is on your performance in a job interview; with a career coach, it is on your own career. Unlike any kind of seminar or codified curriculum, the partnership will be tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Finally, there can be some overlap between interview coaching and career coaching. Some career coaches focus on the job search and provide interview coaching to their clients.

How are interview coaching and career coaching different?

The main difference between these two fields is the scope of the job. Interview coaches are focused solely on preparing you for that aspect of your job search. The emphasis will be on your interview techniques, and sessions could even be conducted with a specific interview in mind.

While you will find career coaches who do provide interview coaching, they usually offer expertise in various areas of your career. These can include job performance, goal setting, and even your overall career trajectory. This explains why relationships with career coaches are often longer-term.

Also, as a result of the wider scope of career coaching, there is more flexibility in each session. This is because the format of the meetings will be determined by whatever element of your career needs to be evaluated and counseled at the given time.

Everything to know about working with an interview coach

There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about enlisting the help of an interview coach. We outline them here:

What to expect

TopInterview's own coaching process makes it easy to get the guidance you need to have a successful interview. You will be paired with an expert interview coach based on your professional background, and the pair of you will then schedule your first session, which will be either a straightforward coaching session or a mock interview, depending on the package you select.

In every case, your interview coach will provide personalized feedback on your interview skills, giving you insight into what you need to improve and how you can improve it. They will also compile detailed notes on your session for you to reference, as well as create a custom action plan for you to continue honing your skills even after your meetings.

For more information on what to expect when you work with an interview coach from TopInterview, see what our customers have said about their experience.

When you should use an interview coach

Not surprisingly, it is best to seek out an interview coach while you are conducting a job search, as that is when you will be most in need of their expertise. But while every job seeker can benefit from working with an interview coach, there are some signs that indicate a real need for one.

For instance, if you frequently land interviews but never make it past the first round, it is likely that your interview performance is preventing you from landing a job. Your resume is certainly catching eyes and impressing, but being cut after Round One — whether it be a phone screen or an in-person interview — means that somewhere in the conversation, you are coming up short. An interview coach can evaluate your performance and pinpoint where the problem is so you don't keep making the same mistakes.

Additionally, an interview coach can be helpful if you have an extra-important interview that you want to be especially prepared for. There are some openings that you just know would be the right job for you (maybe even your dream job!), so even if you're already confident in your interview skills, it would be a time to invest in coaching so you make the most of a golden opportunity.

Read here for more signs that you should use an interview coach during your job search.

When you shouldn't use an interview coach

There is really never a time when working with an interview coach will do anything but benefit you. That said, it's important to realize that perfecting your interview skills is not the only requirement for landing a job, which means that you cannot rely on an interview coach to make magic happen.

As you conduct your job search, you must give equal attention to application materials such as your resume and cover letter, as well as networking and your online presence. With writing a resume being as difficult as being in the interview room, you may wish to work with a professional resume writer to aid you in this part of your job-search process as well.

Everything to know about working with a career coach

With career coaching covering a number of areas of a professional's career, there are many paths your experience could take.

What to expect

We've established that career coaching as a whole is a vast field that can help professionals in different ways. However, there is variability within the approach of coaches as well. Some coaches focus on the job search, some on career development and management, and some even take a more personal route and help professionals figure out their goals.

It's also common for a career coach to be hired by a company to help high-potential employees who may be held back by some shortcomings move up the ranks.

If you're looking for a career coach, it's important that you understand what you hope to get out of the partnership so that you can work with one who fits your needs.

When you do meet with your career coach, you will be expected to provide information about yourself and your career, and with much more detail than what's on your LinkedIn profile. They will want to know your story — the things they can't learn from your resume. In other words, be prepared to share. This is all so that your career coach can determine the best path forward for your sessions.

When you should use a career coach

There are a number of situations in which a career coach can be valuable. For example, if you are feeling unhappy at work but are unsure of where to go next, a coach can help you define your career goals.

They are also particularly helpful for professionals who want to change careers — they can guide you in the right direction and help you determine how realistic it would be to go down that specific route.

Finally, career coaches are often enlisted to help those struggling in their job search. Some are even resume writers as well, or at least partnered with a resume-writing company, such as TopInterview's sister site, TopResume.

When you shouldn't use a career coach

Much like you shouldn't expect your interview coach to land a job for you, you should not expect a career coach to fix your problems or call the shots for you. They are there to help you weigh options and think through things, not transform your career on their own.

In this way, career coaches can be likened to personal fitness trainers. They offer you the tools and information you need, but if you don't do the work outside of your sessions, like diet and exercising on your own, it's not their fault if you don't reach your goals.

You should also not confuse a career coach and a therapist. If there are personal issues that are interfering with your career, they are exactly that — personal issues, not career issues. Speak to a mental health professional instead, and then, if still necessary, turn to a career coach when you are ready.

Experts to help you in your career

Both interview coaches and career coaches exist because cultivating a career is simply challenging. What's more, different areas of career development are challenging for different people because we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. That is why personalized, one-on-one training, whether from an interview coach or a career coach, can be not only helpful, but transformative.

If you've decided to use interview coaching to take the next step in your career, consider working with one of TopInterview's experts.

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