By Caroline M.L. Potter
There are a lot of steps that usually happen before you get to the interview portion of your job search: writing a resume, networking, compiling your references. Most folks are able to put a lot of effort into getting the interview, but many fall apart during the actual interview. Why? Poor planning and a lack of practice.
Instead of winging it, or relying solely on your professional skill set, you should stage a rehearsal for your next job interview.
Not sure how to go about doing so? Start by enlisting a family member, friend or partner to play the role of interviewer, and ask that she stay in character from start to finish. Set up a space, such as a desk or table, where you can create a suitable setting. Then use these 10 tips to from corporate trainer Marlene Caroselli to make your interviews -- both mock and real -- successful.
Do Your Homework
"Learn all you can about the organization in advance," advises Caroselli. Share this information with your mock interviewer, perhaps in the form of crib notes. She can use this to grill you.
"Watch people being interviewed on television and make note of what works," she advises. Look for traits that make people likable and competent.
State the Unobvious
"Create one really intriguing statement about yourself," she says. "For example, a woman I know, expecting to be told, 'Tell us a bit about yourself [the most popular interview question],' replied, 'I think I should tell you I'm a nonconforming conformist.' She explained what she meant and wound up getting the job."
Think Outside the Box
A little visualization can go a long way, according to Caroselli, author of Principled Persuasion. "Think about a visual that really represents what you can do," she says. "It can be a photo taken at an event you organized, for example. If you have nothing that symbolizes your capabilities, then look for a pattern not readily apparent in your resume and be prepared to talk about that particular interest or talent, apart from your official work history."
Know Your Lines
Actors do it, and you should, too. "Memorize a few short quotes and have them ready," Caroselli says. "They'll help you respond articulately to virtually any question."
Sum It Up
The very first request an interviewer may make is, "Tell me about yourself." In order to answer this interview question quickly and succinctly, she urges interviewees, "Have an elevator speech ready in case they want a brief overview of your career."
Be Tough on Yourself
Research tough interview questions and provide them to your helper. Also, point out gaps in your skills or holes in your resume and instruct her to grill you on those points. "By comparison, your own, actual interview will seem like a walk in the park, and that prospect will encourage you," Caroselli says.
Capture It on Camera
"If possible, have someone video you doing an interview rehearsal," she says. "Then study your body language to see if it reveals confidence, poise and enthusiasm."
Close your eyes and listen back to the recording of your replies to interview questions. "Play the tape back and analyze your responses," she says. "Ask yourself, 'Would you hire you?'"
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Work on being relaxed before your big meeting. "When you get to the interview site and are waiting to be called in to the interview room, work on a brainteaser," Caroselli advises candidates. "Research shows it calms the nerves and takes your mind off the challenge ahead."