Does the thought of job interviews make you feel anxious? Guess what? This feeling is completely normal! However, make sure that your interview nerves are not so strong that they cause you to appear visibly unprepared. But how can I avoid messing up during an interview, you may ask? The goal is to make the interview conversation feel natural between you and the interviewers through practice. Here’s how.
- Research the organization. Explore the company’s website and read up on their mission, values, current news and future plans. Check out their LinkedIn or Glassdoor profile to gain further insight on what they are known for. This extensive research will be advantageous during the interview and show the employer that you are serious about working specifically for that company.
- Know your interviewers and team. Use LinkedIn and a Google search to find out the names of the people who work for the department you applied to. This helps inform you on their backgrounds, what groups they belong to and what they are interested in. Getting to ‘know’ them prior to the interview can eliminate interview jitters and seeing their picture will help you feel more comfortable once you meet them in person.
- Create a list of interview questions, write interview responses and accomplishment stories. Start by literally writing (or typing) your specific responses for 10-15 interview questions. If you want to go all out, use Glassdoor to find out specific questions that the company may ask. In addition, formulate at least five stories about times you experienced a challenge and took an action. Describe the positive results from each. Providing interviewers with these specific accomplishments will show them that you can put your skills into action.
- Create a cheat sheet. When you get nervous, it can be hard to remember the most pertinent details. Use a cheat sheet to alleviate your worries and help you stay on track. For example, write down who you’re meeting with and what their job titles are, the accomplishment stories you definitely want to bring up, and the questions you want to ask at the end of the interview. Here is the link to a sample cheat sheet.
- Say it out loud! Writing out your interview responses is a great first step, but verbalizing them will help you remember. The more you say it out loud, the better you truly understand how to effectively answer a question so you can sell yourself to the employer. In my experience, the more job seekers practices their interview responses, the more they are able to remember key talking points that show their value as they speak. The interviewer will notice that you seem at ease, which will help build trust and get the interviewer talking too.
- Practice your interview responses in different settings such as:
- In front of a mirror
- To a friend or loved one (have them ask you the interview questions)
- On the bus/train (read them silently or in your mind)
- To your pet, etc.
- Remember, you don’t have to memorize verbatim. A script is hard to remember; remembering key examples and accomplishments is easier. Once you recall key points, then you can fill in the details during the actual interview. Using your phone, record yourself answering interview questions to track your timing and see where you need to improve. This may seem like a lot—but don’t fret. More preparation is better than none and soon enough you will become a pro due to all that practice!
PROCEED & PROSPER:
- The day of the interview, do a final review of your interview responses, your cheat sheet and your notes on the company at home, during your commute and prior to entering the building. Prepare to bring several copies of your resume, reference list, recommendation letters, a pen and your list of questions to ask the interviewer. Use a portfolio or folder to help you keep these items in place. Once they call you into the interview room, place your responses back into your folder – you have practiced enough and are ready to wow them! SMILE, be proud that you have made it this far and show them your value!
- Speak clearly and with confidence. Play up your key accomplishments and demonstrate how those will be an advantage to the company and position. Maintain proper posture, eye contact and a positive disposition.
- Pausing is okay. Before you speak, take a breath, count to three, and gather your thoughts. A three to five second pause is acceptable to help you reframe, refocus, and avoid rambling. To avoid awkward silences, feel free to inform the employer that you are gathering your thoughts; using phrases such as “Hmm that is a great question, let me see” or “I am thinking of a specific time…” Use this time to work through how to approach the question using a previous work accomplishment or experience.
- Thank the interviewer(s) for their time, and shake their hand. The interviewer may mention the next steps in the process but if they don’t – make sure to ask. After you leave, make sure to jot down key points related to anything that the interviewers may have mentioned. If something stood out, write it down.
- Send a thank-you email within 24 hours. Using the notes you wrote after the interview, make sure to mention something related to the conversation. This will set you apart and ensure that the interviewer remembers you.
Practice is vital to your interviewing success. It instills confidence within and makes you feel relaxed, while helping you sell your ability to succeed in the role that the company is looking to fill. Make it your goal to impress the employers for every job that you interview for. The more practice you put in, the better results you’ll get. Remember: if you have time for texting, social media, Netflix, or spending time with loved ones, then you have time to practice for your interview. Here’s to your success…through PRACTICE!
Schedule an appointment with a Career Advisor for a thorough evaluation on your interviewing skills by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org