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How to Prepare for Job Interviews

Started by satzz69, Jun 19, 2009, 04:36 PM

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An interview is a competitive process.  That's why job seekers need to prepare as much as possible for that day that could effectively change the course of their lives.  The problem, however, is that too many people fail to do that.  Instead of getting things running as they receive a phone call for an interview, too many job seekers get lazy or suddenly feel apprehensive.  What better way to avoid that feeling of apprehension than to avoid thinking about Interview Day?  As a result, they delay preparing for that crucial moment until the last minute.

Wishful thinking will not get you where you want to be.  You need to work hard for it.  The first stage in preparing for an interview is to research:
the organization,
the position,
the industry, and
the interviewers' background.
Research is important because you want to arrive at the interview "knowledgeable."  Knowledge is key because it will allow you to have interesting conversations and put things in the right context.  The other reason why research is so important is because it will help you get into the right state of mind.  You have no more excuses not to do proper research in this day and age.  With the advent of the Internet, all this can be done from the comfort of your own home. 

Once you have done your research, the next step is to review your credentials.  Since you already did your research, you will be able to target key elements of your background or personality that you would like to emphasize during the interview meeting.  Reviewing your credentials means that you should go through your resume and cover letter in detail.  Regarding your resume, keep in mind that whatever is on there is most often very synthesized.  You need to be able to elaborate on whatever is written on your resume, including citing relevant examples to back up your assertions. 

Once you have finished reviewing your credentials and background, prepare a list of questions you expect to be asked during the interview.  Please go to the Interview Question section of WorkBloom for a list of questions.  Put yourself in the shoes of your interviewers and try to think of what they would want to know from candidates.  If you applied from a job posting, look at it for clues in terms of the skills that the employer is looking for.  This process will allow you to come up with questions specific to the position you are applying to.

Prepare answers for those questions.  Possible answers to questions can be diverse.  The process of coming up with good answers takes time.  Don't do this at the last minute.  Start with a draft and come back on it a day later, after you have some distance.  As you formulate your answers, make sure you feel comfortable with them.

The next step after preparing answers is to practice answering questions.  Practice by yourself first, speaking aloud.  When you feel you have a good grasp, ask a friend or family member to do mock interviews with you.  Ask for their feedback on the substance of your answers.  Is what you are saying convincing?  Do you look professional?  Are you clear when you give your answers?  As they give you their feedback, make sure to keep an open mind.  It would also be a good idea at this stage to ask your practice partner to prepare a few questions of their own.  You never know what you are going to be asked during an interview.  Accordingly, the ability to think on your feet is critical.

As you go through the process of preparing to answer interview questions, start thinking of what you would like to wear for the interview.  Please see WorkBloom's Interview Attire section for advice on how to dress for interviews.

Although this step is mentioned at this point in the article, it should be applied throughout your job search process.  Think positive!  Positive people attract "good luck," meaning that their outlook on life will make them see opportunities that others don't see.  Positive thinking will also help you stay motivated as you go through the job hunting process.  That being said, don't forget that the most important thing about interviews is to make a good impression and there is no better way to ease tension than with a smile.

Once you have gone through the above steps, the last thing that you need to do is to visualize your interview day, from the time you wake up to the time you leave the meeting room.  Visualization can never be emphasized often enough.

The process does not stop here.  What if you are not offered a job?  Think ahead and prepare for your next interview by documenting what you did.  After each interview, write down your impression of how you performed.  Document how you can improve.  This includes noting down the mistakes you made and avoiding repeating the same mistakes next time.  Reflect on the answers that you gave during the interview and think of how the interviewer reacted.  Was he or she satisfied, impressed, disappointed, or indifferent to your answer?  Remember, what is important is not how good you think your answers are.  It is what interviewers think of your answers that matters since they are the ones who get to make the decisions.

What you just read might seem a lot.  Yet, these steps are necessary if you want to increase your chances of getting hired.  Remember, by the time you are called for an interview, your candidacy has been selected from a pile of applications.  The finish line is near, so don't give up.

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