After spending countless hours creating and polishing up your resume, you have finally been contacted for an interview. After you take in the brief moment of excitement, anxiety quickly sets in. What next? To demonstrate how serious you are about obtaining the job, there is no excuse for showing up for an interview unprepared. So, how do you effectively prepare, or rehearse, for a job interview?
Update Voice Mail Message, Email Address, and Social Networking Profiles. This step should not be limited to just interview preparation, but applied to the overall job search process. If you are actively job searching, you will want to update your current voice mail messages with a clear, concise, and brief message that portrays a professional image. In addition, make sure that the email address that you have provided the employer portrays the same impression. Refrain from using casual or inappropriate email addresses. If necessary, create an email address that includes your first and last name only. This can be done through your current service provider or various sites that offer free email accounts. The same concepts apply to your social networking site if you should have one. Make sure your profile picture is tasteful and does not send the wrong message to a prospective employer. It is very common for recruiters to incorporate social networking profiles into their background checks and investigative processes. Conduct a public search online for your name and remove anything that may have a negative impact on your chances of being selected for the position.
Understand Your Own Skills. Do you know what your strengths are? The interview is a valuable opportunity to market your strengths and qualifications. Write down your strengths and specific situations that justify your skill set. For instance, if you ran Customer Service skills high on your list, make note of at least two specific situations when you demonstrated desirable Customer Service behaviors, what actions you took, and the result of your actions.
Rehearse Likely Asked Questions. When a job candidate is contacted for an interview, the prospective employer is not expecting to meet a professional interviewee. The employer’s objective is to gather as much information on the job candidate to make an informed selection decision. As such, it would be favorable to you to be prepared to answer behavior-based questions relating to the position. You can conduct a search online for sample Behavioral Interviewing questions in the field you are applying for and prepare vivid and specific answers to those questions. Remember, the employer’s job is to focus on real work incidents and identify those behaviors that are necessary to be successful at the job. The more prepared you are, the less anxiety you will experience during your interview, and the more clear and detailed your answers will be.
Research the Company and the Position You Are Applying For. It is guaranteed that the employer will ask you what you know about the organization, why the position is of interest to you, and why you are the most qualified person for the job. Surprisingly enough, these are questions that stump most job candidates and bring on the most anxiety and display of vagueness during the interview. The more specifics you can provide, the more confidence the employers will have in making their selection decision.
Dress to Impress. Don’t show up for the interview like it was at the bottom of your priority list. Demonstrate that you took the initiative to physically prepare for the interview. Comb your hair, get a hair cut if necessary, iron your clothes, wear a shirt and tie (men) and dress suit or business attire (women) if appropriate, and leave your sneakers and flip-flops at home. It may be appropriate to cover any visible tattoos or piercings if interviewing for a position within a professional or customer-facing environment. Revisit the posted job description or employer website for any available dress code information.
Ask Questions. After researching your potential employer, note some intelligent questions that you will want to ask at the end of your interview. This demonstrates sincere interest in the position and the organization. Keep questions professional and refrain from inquiring on anything that would cause the employer to raise a red flag (consequences of calling sick, policies on personal use of equipment, salary negotiation, etc.).
Also featured in MSCCN’s Military Spouse Employment Journal