Interviewing for a job can be quite nerve-wracking for most of us. If you prepare well, however, you can learn to confidently communicate your values and leave a lasting impression with your prospective employer. Here are five interview preparation techniques to help you shine:
Do your research:
Research information about the company you are interviewing for and try to know as much as possible about the open position. You can research the company by searching the company name along with the current year and also by searching for press releases. Hopefully this will help you track down major projects, expansions, recent contracts, partners, and more. After doing your homework, write down some key questions you have about the company as well as the position. This type of preparation will help you to engage in conversation during your interview and show your prospective employer that you are truly interested. Furthermore, asking relevant questions about the position will show that you’re not just an effective responder but that you are also assertive.
Deliver your story, compellingly:
In most interviews, the interviewer will say something along the lines of: “Tell me about yourself; what is your background?” Your background story is what helps people understand who you are as a person, what your goals are, and where you are headed. Learn to tell your story well. This will take you far not only in interviews but networking events as well. Putting together your personal story will take some time and require practice. Here are some questions to help you prompt your personal story for job interviews as well as professional events:
- How have you arrived to where you are today?
- Why did you make certain choices?
- What motivates you?
- What are you passionate about?
- Have your career goals remained the same or have they changed?
- Are you someone who likes new projects? and/or
- Do you like to execute the details of someone else’s vision?
Once you’ve thought about your story, the next step is practicing saying it out loud. Don’t wait until the interview to tell your story for the first time! Try sharing your story with a confidante for feedback and even recording yourself. Also, be sure to tailor your story to the specific job at hand.
If you have not interviewed in awhile, you’ll want to sharpen your communication skills. You can practice your skills by enlisting a friend or, better yet, a group of trusted colleagues to ask you sample questions.
Once you start getting contacted for interviews, take advantage of each opportunity even if the job isn’t your “ideal job.” In other words, don’t dismiss opportunities to interview based upon narrow criteria. Consider every interview (especially the one’s you aren’t so excited about) as an opportunity to practice!
Practice assertive body language and verbal presentation:
Start eliminating verbal fillers, such as “um,” “like,” and “uh” from your speech. Practice speaking clearly and assertively by avoiding low and monotonous tones. In addition, practice using confident body language. You’ll want to walk into your interview standing tall with your shoulders back, smiling, maintaining eye contact, and delivering a firm handshake. Your posture, facial expressions, gestures, and verbal tone all affect the way your message is received.
Bring the following items to your interview:
It’s smart to bring a clean notebook and pen to your interview so that you can take notes. It’s also a good idea to have your prepared questions written down in this notebook. In addition, bring copies of your resume as well as a list of professional references.
Remember, interviewing is a skill you can learn. If you prepare well, chances are you’ll be able to confidently communicate your values, interests, and future potential by the time you reach the interviewing stage! For a more thorough guide that covers all aspects of a job search, check out the Twelve Steps to a Successful Job Search with Todd Bermont!