College Advice Blog

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Nov 25, 2012

Preparing for a Job Interview


You have carefully posted your resume on the job boards that appeal to you the most. There are numerous companies you have sent your resume to directly. Now, your telephone rings and you find yourself in the middle of a phone interview. That went great; it's all downhill now, right?

Not so fast...

You could have done everything perfectly up until now, but believe it or not, the game has just begun. You’ve gotten the pitch down and now it’s time to close the deal. Don’t let yourself get overconfident. If anything, now is the time to step-up your game.

Practice Interviewing  Yes, you’ve heard it before, and you’ve even thought through the answer to some questions you expect them to ask. Maybe you’ve even answered them out-loud. That’s a great start, but it’s just that: a start. Mock interviews are an integral part to interviewing well.

Find a Good Coach  Many people hire a professional interview coach to help them with the process. This is an incredibly valuable service, and a good interview coach is worth the price they charge. Simply the fact that they are independent is valuable, but they also bring with them skills, tips, and suggestions for interviewing effectively.

You don’t have to hire a professional to benefit from mock interviews. A friend or family member is certainly better than simply practicing in a mirror. This doesn't mean you want to ask a friend that is going to serve you softball type questions. It is a better idea to encourage your coach (or better yet, coaches) to be critical - almost to the point of ruthlessness. Make certain you ask a person to practice with you that is comfortable being totally truthful with you, even if it means your feelings take a hit. This is too important to treat lightly.

Finding Good Questions  Questions are easy to find. A simple search on the internet will garner site after site worth of questions that have been asked. Make sure you harvest a bunch of the toughest ones you can find - then study and make sure you can answer them with clarity and confidence. Give your partner the questions, and tell them to ask random questions that they think are tough. Go as far as to have them give you an honest grade after answering each one. If you don't handle certain questions well, you will know where you need improvement. Their grade will tell you what your shortcomings are.
You have to remember that the interview is the way you win the job. You must get an honest assessment, and it is best when it is brutally honest and constructive.

Not just a Soft Pitch  While asking a friend or family member to lob questions at you is valuable, you need to solicit their feedback as well. Beyond just good or bad, ask them for specific feedback. What part of your answer spoke to them and what did not? Ask them to tell you how they would have handled the question. Remind them that you need their honesty. Sunshine and praise is only going to set you up for failure. Their suggestions can be incredibly valuable.

Body Language Coach  Sometimes, adding a third person to this process that is tasked with only measuring intangibles like your posture, voice and tone can make a huge difference. It’s difficult to measure and studies vary, but virtually all experts agree that we communicate more through body language than we do through the words we use (some experts put this figure as high as 70%). A coach who is focused on providing you feedback about your body language can be extremely valuable.

The employment mantra these days seems to be: "Hire Slow and Fire Fast." Interviews are designed to identify your strengths clearly, but they also aim to expose your weaknesses. You’re under the microscope at this point and you need to take whatever steps are available to you to make sure you present yourself in the best light.

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About the Author
This post is written by Jan Patterson, a freelance writer and recent graduate living in Seattle, Washington. First impression is crucial in job interviews and Jan avoids being late to her interview by using taxis at www.stitataxi.com
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