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by Cathy Vandewater | June 20, 2011


Going on interviews is stressful. But worse than the actual process is going through it all—taking time off of work, buying new clothes, drilling your answer to the weakness question—and not getting a callback.

If you feel like the ROI on interviewing is fast dwindling, maybe it's time to skew the odds in your favor. Speed interviewing, which is meeting with lots of employers in a short period of time, may be a great way to up your chances of making a connection. And it requires little more time and preparation than an average interview.

You'll have to track down an event to participate, but they're getting more popular. College campuses—especially business and marketing schools--are hosting speedy recruiting events and alumni-interviews, and Certified General Accountants has been hosting Speed Interview Nights for seven years. The Business Marketing Association and the Portland chapter of the Public Relations Society of America are also getting in on the action—so you should too.

If you're just getting back into the job hunting game, speed interviews are a great way to bone up on your interview skills, and quickly add a few new contacts to your list. But they're also intense, so come careful prep is key to having a good experience.

Here are some minor (but important) tweaks to kick your interview process into the speed round:

1. Re-write your resume. Edit your resume for the kind of read it will receive in 1-2 minutes of scanning. Do the right points jump out? Is a clear story told? You have 5-15 minutes for an employer to decide you're perfect for position you're interviewing for; don't let a pointless stint as a waiter or an employment gap distract from your qualifications.

2. Come well-stocked. Bring plenty of resumes and business cards, and carry them in a briefcase or binder you can quickly and gracefully retrieve them from. Your interviewer's first moments should be not spent watching you fumble with papers and drop your pen.

3. Dress mindfully. Do your research on the company's (or companies') culture and dress accordingly. You want an employer to look at you and immediately picture you fitting in at the office. Thus, prospective teachers will not want to wear stilettos and an expensive suit, just as would-be bankers should skip sneaks and chinos. Dress the part, or risk losing out on powerful first impression points.

4. Review your resume. When they're averaging less than 15 minutes per interview, employers aren't going to delve deep into your personal history, so prepare to answer questions based on the positions and skills you have plainly listed on your resume. Also quiz yourself on basic interview queries like professional weaknesses and where you see yourself in five years—they're a given.

5. Warm up. Chat with a friend in the car on the way over. Strike up a conversation with other applicants while waiting in line. Smile. There's little time for stiff chit chat at speed interviews, so it's up to you to shift gears into friendly, outgoing mode before you're in the hot seat.


Filed Under: Interviewing
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