By Stephanie Clark
Point seven of my Ten Steps to Interview Preparation is to “practice aloud with answers to predictable questions.” After all, as the adage says, “practice makes perfect.” Some of you may be thinking, “Why bother?” Consider this: although networking or a great resume can land you an interview, it is your interview skills that land you a job offer. Furthermore, it is not always the most qualified candidate who lands the job offer; it is the candidate who interviews best.
How does one practice, then? And which questions? Have you tried practicing aloud? I have, and let me share that the first time I practice, I ramble, digress, sound silly, and wouldn’t impress the most forgiving audience. Even I can’t believe how bad I sound! Depending on the job to which you are applying, you will have a sense of which topics will be addressed. Obviously a customer service rep will be asked about related service skills, dealing with difficult situations or handling belligerent clients. The IT help desk candidate will be asked about solving perplexing software issues, communicating his or her work in plain English with non-IT clients, and continuing professional development to stay current. The engineer may face questions about sourcing appropriate-to-the-job products, solving complex mathematical equations; and the lawyer, about researching and writing, meeting critical deadlines, and still bringing in revenues!
Write down perhaps five topics that are listed on every job posting that you’re applying to, and these will give you a great start to preparing for any job interview. Now, you’re ready to begin! Brainstorm first, on paper, noting a few examples and stories that demonstrate your dedication and ability to solve those problems that are inherent in your position. Solving problems are the key to being of value to your employer. Read a few answers suggested in interview coaching books. These may give you additional ideas that you hadn’t considered, and will throw in those key words and phrases that will impress the interviewer, and solidify you as a top-notch candidate. Now, practice an actual voiced delivery, not once, but a few times on day one. On day two, read over your notes, practice again, not once but twice. And by day three or four, you will be sounding coherent, logical, and persuasive. After all, no actor stepped onto a stage without first learning lines, and practicing them until he or she could deliver them in a way that sounded quite natural. It is only then that an actor is persuasive and believable. In a sense, when interviewing, you are on stage, presenting to a group of people who hold the key to your dream job, or to great financial rewards, or to plainly putting food on the table. Your delivery either persuades them, or dissuades them; it either lands you a job offer, or cancels out your candidacy Practice makes perfect … go practice!