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When I was asked to write this article on interviewing skills, I was thrilled. The subject of interviewing is one of my favorite career development topics. Interestingly, my advice to job seekers is usually the same regardless of their job aspirations or industry – start by developing a sales pitch for yourself.
Regardless of their situation, my suggestion is “If you were a product, what would you say to make a customer want to buy you?” The employer is the customer and you are the product so it is up to you to close the deal.
The key to successful interviewing is to find what the employer is looking for in a candidate. Remember, if you are asked to an interview, you have passed several stages of resume critiques and evaluations. There is something about you that the employer finds attractive and wants to learn more about. The catch can be trying to figure what the employer is attracted to and promoting it.
First and foremost, never forget the basics. Self-confidence, a firm handshake, appropriate attire, a friendly and enthusiastic demeanor, good eye contact, and a smile are all ways of expressing yourself and developing a rapport with the interviewer. You can be perfect on paper. Your experience can fit the job qualifications like a glove. But, if you do not have basic interviewing skills, you likely are not going to be asked back for a second interview.
Although this may sound like a given, make sure that you know your resume cold and are able to discuss the information provided on the resume at length.
Employers are going to assume that you are knowledgeable about your resume. They will expect you to be willing to discuss your educational background, work experience, skills and accomplishments, and any other information featured on your resume. Always, bring additional copies of your resume to the interview in case it was misplaced or there are several interviewers.
Job interviews tend to differ greatly depending on the industry. Some industries have a more informal approach to interviewing, their main goal is to “get to know” the candidate. Other industries, like business and engineering, are more formal and will ask questions about your skills, work ethic, previous experience, and so on.
A good way of learning how interviews work in your industry is to speak with professionals in similar positions. They can talk with you about the interview process, which questions to expect during the interview, and the expected timeline for applying and interviewing for positions in that industry. Be prepared to talk about your career goals as well. Employers like to see that job candidates have direction in their lives and are working towards obtaining their goals.
Interviewing is a skill. Just like typing and riding a bike. To develop a skill, one needs to practice. Many career centers at colleges and universities offer mock interviews to students and alumni. Also, look for career consulting businesses and professionals in your area to see if they offer interviewing skills training and mock interviews.
Mock interviews are a great way to practice your skills and get feedback from a career development professional on ways to improve. They offer an opportunity to evaluate your ability to interview with poise and confidence. At the very least, practice with your friends and colleagues. Develop a list of questions for them to ask and practice answering them in an interview setting.
Interviewing can be scary. But, try to have fun with it. An interview is another opportunity to meet interesting people. It is also your opportunity to evaluate the employer.
Try to jot down some of your impressions of the company and the interviewers after the interview is finished. These impressions will likely come into play when deciding on a job offer. If an offer is extended and you accept, you will report there for work everyday.
Make sure that you are comfortable and confident about your decision before accepting. Our professional lives often influence our overall happiness. Have your decision be an educated one on every level.
Last but not least, when the interview is finished, make sure to shake hands with each of the interviewers and get their business cards. Send a thank you note to each of them immediately after the interview. Then, reward yourself for a great effort.
© Amy Ertel