Nailing The Job Interview
I’ve made many friends through this blog. Recently, one of them told me about a job interview she went for and how terribly nervous interviews make her. I remember going for job interviews back when I was first joining the workforce and how I too was very nervous.
My husband and I ended up having a discussion on the subject over coffee yesterday. I turned our discussion into my own interview of sorts, because back when my husband was in college, he took a class on career development and business communications.
In his class, the students were required to go to several mock job interviews, and professional recruiters were often brought in to hold the interviews. Though they were not actually applying for a job, everything else about the interviews was taken as if it were for real. The students had to dress appropriately, and though they weren’t actually in contention for a job, they were ‘interviewing’ for positions that actually exist in the real world. The recruiters took the interviews very seriously, and consequently, so did the students. Not only that, but the interviews were videotaped, and later the instructor would go over every students video interview in front of the whole class. My husband says that watching himself on video was not always comfortable, but the class definitely stretched his comfort zone and vastly improved his interview abilities.
After the class ended, a few of his close class-mates would regularly get together on a Friday evening, and continue holding mock job interviews. Even though they were still in school, they would pick a few jobs that were being advertised in their field, spend an hour or so researching the company, and finally hold mock interviews at the kitchen table of their dorm room.
My husband worked during breaks in between each semester, and so when semester break was approaching, he and his friends looked forward to being able to go to real job interviews for those summer positions. Even if they didn’t get the job, they looked at it as a huge positive; they were gaining valuable experience and making connections in the industry. After each interview was over, they would write down the questions they were asked by the interviewers. Then they would later incorporate those questions into their mock interviews and critique each other and refine their answers.
If you have some close friends or family, you too can also hold mock interviews. Practice, practice and practice, so that when you’re in an interview, you’ll be less nervous, and more confidently show why you are the perfect candidate for the position.
Here’s a quick list of some things my husband recommends to prepare for a job interview:
- Research the company you are going to interview for. Are they local or international? What are the driving products or services that they provide? Who is their competition? How long have they been in business? If possible, go to the investors section of their website and see if they have listed their last quarterly report. Quite often it will explain in detail what their company is focusing its efforts on at the moment. Learn as much as possible about their operation.
- Your resume should be polished and you should know, inside and out, what your skills, abilities, and experience is. You need to be able to clearly and confidently convey this information to them in person. You should have at least four real world examples where you have used your skills and experience in challenging circumstances to solve problems. And you should practice telling those stories again and again so that when you tell them in your interview, you not only come across as relaxed and confident, but more importantly you can clearly convey your strengths so that they can recognise how you may be an asset to their firm.
- They are going to ask you if you have any questions for them. Of course you do! You’ve done your research about the company, and so it should now be easier to have great questions. For example, if you were applying for a position of hotel concierge, you might ask: What is the demographic of their hotel’s clientele; business people or vacationers? Does the demographic of that clientele change between the week and weekend? Does it change during the seasons? What are the different requirements of each type of guest? For example, do they offer shuttle services for vacationing guests wanting to visit local attractions? Do they have wifi and photocopy/printing services for their business guests? You should also ask questions pertaining to your interests. What will a typical day and week look like in this position? What will I need to learn that I don’t know now? What kind of working environment does your firm have; relaxed or formal? Does your firm engage in team building exercises? Do they have a high turnover of staff? Remember, they are not only interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. If they seem like a lousy place to work where you won’t be treated fairly, then you need to look for clues during the interview. You spend so much time at work, you want to find a job where you can accomplish and soar in an environment that is pleasant.
- The day after the interview, send a short email to the recruiter, thanking them for the opportunity to meet them, and that you look forward to hearing from them.
There are other things you can do too. My husband used to be quite shy when he was younger, but during his college days, he met someone who was going into broadcast journalism. This person would spend hours practicing reading and speaking out loud, so my husband decided he would also practice some of that himself. He would take a newspaper, magazine or book, and while home alone standing at the kitchen counter, he would read aloud a newspaper article, as if he was reading it for radio or television. By doing this he began to, as he puts it; ‘get used to his own voice’ without always stumbling over words. He learned to project his voice with confidence, and learned how to subtly inject emotion and tone into his speech. He says that being comfortable speaking like that in private paid huge dividends in the future, as he found himself much more confident speaking to people in other settings.
Prepare yourself mentally, but also take the time to prepare yourself spiritually. Pray about your job interview. If you’ve done your part and equipped yourself for the job that you are applying for, pray for favor and trust that the Lord has plans to prosper you.
Believe that good things happen to you and confess it. Speak life over yourself.