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How to Prepare for a Job Interview

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Interviews, by far, have definitely got to be one the most nerve-wracking events that a person has to go through. Due mostly because most applicants don’t prepare enough. Interviews are important and spending ten or more hours preparing is not unreasonable. You want to reach a stage of unconsciously competent. To fully prepare for a job interview, you must role play the interview, know how to effectively answer questions, and list your greatest strengths.

First of all, role playing the interview is very important to ensure that you feel unconsciously competent and confident and it is also easy to accomplish. Use a friend or spouse to act as the interviewer. While embarrassing, it will give you practice in overcoming the initial interview jitters. What happens in the first two minutes is critical; these two minutes represent the first impression so you want it to be strong. Practice a strong handshake, poise, enthusiasm and confidence while talking. People who get jobs easily are natural talkers, ask lots of insightful questions, and give thorough meaningful answers. Role-playing will help you gain these qualities. Keep practicing all of the above until everything feels and sounds natural and spontaneous.

Secondly, know how to effectively answer questions. Short answers less than thirty seconds are useless. Applicants come across as lacking knowledge and insight. Answers over three minutes are too long. Applicants are branded as wordy, too technical or boring. One and half to two minutes is about right. What you say is critical. Forget generalities. You need to provide specific examples to be credible. First, you want to make an opening statement responding to the questions. This should last ten to twenty seconds or so. Second, amplify the statement by providing a little more background describing the opening statement. Another fifteen to twenty seconds. Third, you will need to provide a few examples that prove your opening statement.

For example, ‘ Here’s an example of how I set up the new system…’ This example is really the heart of the response. Without a specific example proving your point, your general statements will not be readily accepted. Interviewers use these examples to confirm their opinions. This part of your response should last about one minute. Finally, wrap it up with a good summary; don’t end answers in the middle of a paragraph. Tie up your response with a great close and hand it back to the interviewer. A good ending sets the tone for the rest of the interview. This type of 4-step response not only effectively answers the question; it also brands you as savvy, bright, and capable. It takes into account the needs of the interviewer to be involved and yet leads the discussion toward your strengths.

Lastly, list your greatest strengths. By writing down your examples of accomplishments, you’ll recall them more easily in the interview. Include some facts like dates, quantify changes and improvements, and don’t generalize key points. You want these examples to be believable and accuracy will help. Since you shouldn’t talk for more than two minutes about a strength the amount of information presented is limited by time. This approach will pack a lot of punch in a short response. Make sure you present your strengths in a believable and enthusiastic manner. If you present a number of relevant examples like this your interviewing performance will improve; it takes practice and preparation plus some real accomplishments.

If you follow these three basic guidelines, you’re just about guaranteed success. Now that you have confidence, your answers will begin to flow smoothly and your interviewing performance will improve. As well as your typical jitters will be reduced. You can do it, leave the interview with style and impress those employers. Go get em’!

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