Before The Interview

It’s almost show time; your chance to show your job interview skills. You’re scheduled for an interview. Looks like your cover letter, resume, and your phone screen interview have earned a ticket for you to a face-to-face interview. So now you can sit back and wait for the big day, right? Well you’re right if you don’t want to be selected as the candidate of choice, or you’re right if you are so confident that you know you can’t miss being selected. I mean, what could possibly go wrong, right? Well, frankly everything can go wrong, and even if just one thing goes wrong, you have lessened your chance of getting hired.

So the prudent action requires interview preparation showcasing your job interview skills. Determine everything you can control and then do something about each. As the Serenity Prayer states, “grant me the courage to change the things I can change, the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Let’s take a quick look at some of the things you can’t and can change. You can’t change the time and location of the interview, however you can make sure you get there ahead of time, and you can make sure you know how to get there; maybe even do a test drive to make sure you know how to get to the interview. Take the pressure off yourself and get there on Vince Lombardi time which states if you get there on time, you’re late. Build in some wriggle room by getting to the interview early. It also gives you time to acclimate yourself to your surroundings or learn more about the company.

You can’t be sure if you are under-dressing, or over-dressing for your interview, however you can make sure you look clean, crisp, and professionally appealing. Don’t wait until it’s too late to get yourself prepared with proper attire. I’m reminded of the true story about an executive who was preparing for interviews. The morning of his flight he grabbed a pair of shoes from his closet, packed them in his luggage, took the flight, landed, went to the hotel to get dressed for his interviews, opened the shoebox, put one shoe on, put the other shoe on only to find out that he had packed two left shoes. Lessons learned, don’t take things for granted, and give yourself wiggle room for extra time. The story is true because I was that executive, and I was the interviewer on a college campus. As a side note, I was fortunate that the two left shoes were nearly the same color and style. So what did I do…….I wore them.

Additional interview preparation includes learning facts about the company. Know how your achievements can help fit company objectives or job description points. Be prepared to ask relevant questions during the interview. Asking questions, especially about expectations will show the interviewer that you are interested and actively involved in the interview. Be prepared to take notes, and of course, always bring copies of your cover letter and resume.

You can’t know what questions will be asked; however you can be prepared for your interview by reviewing possible types of questions that could be asked; if nothing else it gives you more confidence. If you feel confident, you will ‘carry’ yourself confidently and this shows in non-verbal communication including eye contact, posture, and a firm handshake. Rehearse questions and answers with others. Use a tape recorder or video the practice sessions. Seek out interview tips from someone who interviews. Learning those interview tips can make the difference between being the candidate selected, and being the runner-up. Working with and learning from a career executive coach can be the difference maker in getting that job or not. Job interview skills can be fine tuned, interview tips can provide a competitive edge, and the time invested in interview preparation can pay dividends in the form getting the job or position you want.