Practical Interview Preparation by Tammie M. Boulden, MBA, MAEd

Interviewing for a job can be stressful, nerve-wrecking, and yet exciting all at the same time. Many career seekers are not comfortable selling their skills or answering questions about what they feel is obvious. The concept of having to basically ask for a job by impressing people who essentially hold the key to your livelihood in their hands may be enough to cause anxiety. However, if career seekers keep in mind that interviewing is a skill that can be easily learned, they can turn that anguish or anxiety into excitement. By using the right strategies and techniques, you can master the interview process and present your best marketable skills effectively to a point where you will be turning down job offers in no time.

It’s important to be confident and prepared before you go on any job interview. Career seekers should conduct research on companies of interest before applying to a job or showing up for an interview. By having prior knowledge about a company, you can customize your presentation, answer questions effectively as well as show the values you have to offer the organization while convincing potential employers that you are the right match for the job.

Next, you want to practice answering interview questions to properly prepare yourself. Begin by reviewing the most commonly asked interview questions. While similar to taking test, it requires a different set of skills to ace an interview, which requires practice, research, and studying.

Many career seekers have what they call interview clothes. Generally speaking, they would include a nice suit, slacks, tie, dress or skirt, basic shoes, and simple accessories to make the best impression. The goal is to market and present yourself as the best candidate for the job, one who knows how to dress, act, and speak professionally. Dressing appropriately sends the message that you are willing to take the extra steps to look your best which could equate to someone who also wants to do their best if given the job.

Not only does dressing your best sends a good message, you have mastered the critical step of making a positive first impression. Additionally, in presenting yourself, remember to remain confident, be genuine with your responses, make eye contact throughout the interview, and remember to always be yourself.

Understand interview styles and techniques. In today’s job market, hiring managers are increasingly looking for ways to find that one unique trait and qualities in the best candidates. You must prepare to go beyond and take the extra step to ensure that your answers are not like any other candidate, while still maintaining composure and being yourself. Interviewers are looking for specific examples, knowledge, skills and experience that you are comfortable presenting in a professional manner.

When prompted, always ask appropriate questions to show that you are interested and have been listening. Questions can be tricky, however, if you stick to the basics and focus on the company, the position, and in some cases the interviewer, you will have a chance to further display your interest while presenting a sincere interest in the positon.

Lastly, remember to follow up with a quick thank you note, email, or phone call based on the interviewer’s preferences. You need to remind the employer that you are interested and what a valuable asset you would be to the company. This is also an easy and positive way to show that you are the best candidate while demonstrating your ability to communicate initiative and follow-through.

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