Practicing for the Interview

Preparing for the interview also includes learning as much as you can about interviewing. You may have an impressive education, but chances are you did not take classes in how to interview. The irony is that the interview is an integral part of our career success, yet many people do not know how to interview well. Here again, take advantage of career counselors, alumni resources, and any job service options available in your area.

Many career counselors will conduct practice interview sessions, providing suggestions on what can be improved. Many also record the mock interviews so you can listen to your responses, making tone of tone, word choice, etc. You can also study your body language and make necessary corrections.

If you do not use the services of a professional, it is still a good idea to practice. An actor would not go out onstage without first practicing the role; similarly, you should not go into the interview without first practicing. Using a marathon metaphor, just as runners need to constantly work their bodies, so too should you do practice runs before the real thing. Enlist the help of family or friends as well. Ask them to search for tough interview questions, and then ask you those questions in a mock interview. This can help you prepare for unusual questions you may face (but avoid providing the sample answers found online word for word. Instead, consider the tips provided, but answer the questions as your authentic self, while focusing on how you can promote your brand in doing so.)

Practice and preparation go hand in hand. You want to be prepared to answer tough questions and practice answering them with confidence and control. Preparation includes knowing what you will say in response to those questions. Practice is finding your natural voice and rehearsing posture and communication techniques when responding. This is why your self-assessments and review of your past is so important.

When reviewing your strengths, review all areas of your past that demonstrate skills and attributes that can be helpful on the job. In addition to previous employment, look to your educational background, volunteer activities, sports activities, clubs and memberships, and any other situations where you used your talents. (Be wary of using political or religious affiliations, however, as you want to avoid all references to these subjects when interviewing). Make a list of everything you can come up with, and compare it to a list of questions you may encounter in an interview. (There are many resources available that list all kinds of possible interview questions.) What from your past demonstrates how you can solve problems? What shows your ability to make decisions? How have you been able to demonstrate communication skills? When have you needed to use your technical skills?

After you have mined your past, put all this information together with your assessment results. Carefully review everything you now have in front of you. This is what you will draw upon to answer questions. When planning to answer those tough questions, use this information to compose your answers. However, you will not be able to take this list to an interview with you (although you may be able to take in a "cheat sheet"), so again, you need to practice using this information.

Although you do not want to memorize verbatim answers to potential questions (you do not want to sound rehearsed), do memorize the overall message you mean to convey. We all have moments where something slips our mind or we are not able to pull out the information we want at just when we need it. Under stress, it can be even more difficult. When you are facing five senior members of a corporation who just asked you to provide a specific example of a time when you solved a problem, you might cave under pressure. This is why practice is so important. If you have had a chance to go through the motions, even if the rehearsal is not stressful, you will have experience to draw upon when facing the real thing. These practice sessions allow you to review not only the answers you provide, but the tone and energy in your voice, how you carry yourself, and any nervous movements.

The more interviews you take part in, the better you will become at interviewing. Preparation and practice will help you reach that point faster.