Past Issues

October 22, 2007

How To Interview Like a Pro

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Diligent job seekers spend hours creating resumes & cover letters, searching through job postings, reviewing classifieds and networking -- all in order to get an interview. Yet most of them don't know what to do when they get one! When the job market was booming it took an average of 3 interviews to get 1 job offer. Now it takes 17. The key is have a great interview, where the interviewer actually pictures you doing the job.

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How To Interview Like a Pro

By Robin Ryan, America's Top Career Coach

In every interview you are an actor. Your role is the job seeker. Just as Hollywood's top stars practice and prepare, so will you. Every actor knows that verbal messages are enhanced by body language, facial expression, voice intonation and props. When the job interview spotlight shines on you, you begin a one-time-only performance. So make your words, body language, and voice work to aid you in landing the job. Here are some tips:

Deal with Nervousness
A little nervousness can actually aid you in being sharp and improve your performance. But heart-thumping, face-twitching, voice-quivering nervousness will reflect poorly on you and the strong self-confident, "I can solve your problems" impression you are trying to make. To rid your body of nervous tension, just before you go into the interview find a private spot outside or in the restroom, shake out your arms, legs, and hands. Take a couple of deep breaths. This physical exercise releases tension that has built up and helps calm you. Then, close your eyes and visualize a scene about winning, seeing yourself as the "winner." This visualization helps get you into a positive, "I can do it" framework.

Come Prepared
The night before the interview pack up what you need to bring. Always have extra resumes -- yes, they do lose them and misplace them. Bring your list of references. Be sure all addresses, emails, and phone numbers are current and accurate. Include any work samples and the list of questions you intend to ask. Have absolute clear directions, and if you don't know where you are going, find it the night before. Being late is a major no-no.

Pass The First Impression
Before you even say hello, the employer's mind is evaluating attire, hygiene, style, and formulating an opinion as to whether or not you should represent their organization. Especially in today's more casual, dressed-down workplace, appearance counts a great deal with employers. Therefore, dress professionally. Greet the interviewer with a smile, and offer a firm handshake. Nothing creates a poorer impression than a weak, couple-of-fingers handshake.

Non-Verbal Clues
Movements, gestures, posture and facial expressions are an important part of your overall performance. A sincere smile sends a warm, confident message. Eye contact is one of the most important things employers notice about you. It conveys confidence that your message is believable. Don't be robotic. Smile often, and be yourself. Douse vocal intonations to make your point so you'll seem personable.

Offer Support Documentation
Every employer loves to see proof that you can do their job. It's impressive to bring samples that demonstrate your abilities to do the job. Some examples: a spreadsheet that is an efficient tracking system, reports you have written, materials you have created, brochures that list you as a panelist or speaker, etc.

Hear the employer's questions, hear their needs, hear their expectations. If you listen carefully, employers often reveal everything you need to know. It is frustrating for the interviewer to ask questions that never get answered, so listen closely. Many employers reveal their "hidden agendas," those few things that really influence their decision. Paying close attention allows you to really address their true needs and land the job.

Robin Ryan is the author of 60 Seconds & You're Hired! and the Job Search Organizer: Everything You Need to Land Your Next Job Faster. She has appeared on more than 100 television and radio programs. Ryan maintains a career counseling practice in Seattle, Washington, and offers job-search seminars at colleges and associations across the country.

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