Interviewing today can take place in a series of interviews depending on the job and the industry. Most companies have gone with a two-interview format as their standard. The two-interview format allows for the employer to get see the applicant in different settings. You may ask yourself, why do I need to go through two interviews or more? The answer is multi-layered. They intend to get as many looks at you prior to making a hiring decision. They need to see you on separate occasions to get a better understanding of your characteristics. Here are a few items:
Check your level of promptness – are you early, late, or on-time? Will you be consistent?
How did you dress? How is your hygiene?
Are you prepared for this interview? Did you bring a copy or copies of your cover letter and resume?
How are you interacting with the current staff? Are you patiently waiting? Did you take the initiative to let the employer know that you have arrived?
Do you have reliable transportation?
Each interview is conducted by different individuals so they can get a different perspective on the applicant. The questions are usually different than the previous interviews unless they are asking the same questions to have you further elaborate on your answers. If you have interviewed in a panel style interview, then you are familiar with being asked multiple questions by multiple interviewers. Often, the other interviewer would ask a follow up question to make you elaborate further on your response. You must understand that employers are making sure that the hired candidate or candidates are who they say they are and can back up what they said they can do.
How do you prepare yourself for such an onslaught of questioning? You start with knowing what you have listed on your resume. This is the first step to stop being rejected because you come across as dishonest. It is one thing to embellish on your resume, while it is a travesty when you cannot speak to anything on your resume. Know the dates and if you cannot remember them, or remove the exact dates so you list the month and year or list the year only. It is important to be honest and accurate instead of forgetful and dishonest.
Review the job description for the job that you are interviewing. It is important to be able to speak to being able to fulfill the responsibilities of the job. Prepare yourself to speak to what is on your resume by being able to speak to your experiences and accomplishments. You must present yourself in a way that shows you as a fit with the organization and you must be able to distinguish yourself from the competition. Begin answering relevant interview questions based on the position. You can perform an internet search to find interview questions. Do not overlook commonly asked questions – “tell me about yourself” and “why should we hire you over anyone else?” These questions have prevented countless individuals from being hired based on unprepared responses.
Once you have selected the interview questions, then you should review them. As you begin to answer the questions in your mind, you need to think of real situations that allow for you to highlight both your experiences and your accomplishments. It is a good practice to think of hero moments or situations where you excelled in past positions.
What are effective ways to practice being interviewed? The simplest way is to partner with someone who can ask you the questions and they are willing to provide you with honest feedback. If you are uncomfortable with someone grading your interviews, then I suggest that you record yourself answering the questions on your cell phone, laptop, tablet, or a tape recorder (lol). In this scenario, you would read the questions as you are recording. Repeat the questions to ensure that you understand the question prior to answering. Next, you would answer the questions. This is a highly effective approach because you can see and hear yourself as you answer the questions based on your chosen method .
What should I be looking for when I watch and listen to my interviews? There are several things that the employers are looking for. Here are a few items:
Body language and posture
Listen to your speech – work on eliminating nervousness by practicing, reduce the use of “um”, “ugh”, and “you know”; speak slowly and concisely
As you get more comfortable, you should begin to steer your responses to sell both your accomplishments and relevant experiences. Your goal is to become confident in your responses which will translate to completing your interview confidently. Let’s circle back to the tell me about yourself question. With your questions, you want to keep your answers short and to the point. Here is an example of how to answer the tell me about yourself question. “I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and just completed my summer internship with Media Source Inc. where I was able to bring on two new contracts that produced over $200,000 in revenue for the company. I am motivated with the taste of success that I just experienced, and I am looking to further develop as a Marketing Consultant here at Media Outlet.” With this short and specific response, I have obtained the interviewer’s attention. What does your response sound like? Practice, practice, and more practice.
Think about how many interviews that you had where you were rejected. Was it because your responses were lackluster or were your responses unprepared and did not convey what your resume says? Did you say um, ugh, or repeat a phrase too much? No matter what your issues were, shake them off and look to improve your confidence level. Drill down to a few examples of you going beyond the call of duty, producing new innovative ideas, suggesting changes that saved the company money, receiving great reviews or winning awards. Create a list of a few good examples and be prepared to speak to deficient performance examples too. Everyone knows that no one is perfect, so do not portray yourself as the only perfect person on Earth. You must paint a failure as a learning moment and speak to how you were able to rebound from it. Recording and watching how you portray the negative moments are equally important as when you point out your strengths and weaknesses. It is possible to paint yourself as a person who does not know how to rebound from a failure.
An interview is like a dress rehearsal to a wedding. You might wonder, how is an interview like a dress rehearsal to a wedding? You get all dressed up and you are verbally going through the motions of doing the job. If you play your cards right, then you can say I do when it is all said and done. That is the goal. Interview well and get the job.
Here is a summary of what we discussed:
Be aware of what the employer is observing from you- promptness, patience, dress code/appearance & hygiene
How you interact with the staff; are you waiting patiently
Facial expressions, body language, posture
Clarity and conciseness of speech
Having a copy or copies of cover letter & resume
Know what your resume says; know dates and accomplishments; be honest and accurate
Speak to the job description
Practice interviewing yourself- record and review; address weaknesses; download interview questions that are relevant to the job
Prepare a tell me about yourself response that gets the interviewer’s attention
Prepare some hero stories and some near failures moments – speak to how they relate to this role and what you learned from them
Be humble – don’t paint yourself to be perfect; be aware of dwelling on missed opportunities to long or appearing like you do not rebound from a loss well
Keep responses short and to the point
Ensure that your responses speak to both accomplishments and experiences that are relevant to the job
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