Strangely enough, many prospective employees don’t prepare for job interviews with the same diligence that they put together a resume. In many respects the interview is even more important than the resume. Certainly, you won’t even get to the interview without a good resume, but a good interview is what ultimately makes or breaks you getting the job.
Just as you’ve gone through your resume and summarized the most salient points from your job history, you should have a clear idea of what you want to express in an interview. Go through your resume again and decide the most important points that you want to cover in an interview.
An interview needs to be as concise as a resume. If you don’t have a clear idea about what you want to say ahead of time, nerves may get a hold of you and you’ll be in danger of incoherence. Worse case scenario, of course, but it is vitally important to speak with confidence and forcefulness. Having a basic script before you enter an interview is a sure fire way to make this possible.
One way to do this is to write a short essay about your work experience. At first this can be a general assessment of your skills, talent, and experience. Later you can cater this to each individual interview—covering topics that are directly related to the job. Writing out potential interview answers is good practice for the interview. If you’re not comfortable writing an extended assessment of yourself, then speak into a tape recorder. Another method is to act out an interview with someone close to you.
These tactics are mainly useful if you are just beginning to enter the workforce. After a series of interviews, you’re likely to get the hang of it. Like anything, good interviewing takes practice. However, you should never stop preparing for an interview. Every company is different so you should have answers that specifically address the job you’re applying for.
There are some issues that can only partially be prepared for in advance. For instance, you have to be able to read your interviewer, and this can only be done once you get to the interviewer. Some interviews will have a good chemistry, some will not: that’s a fact of life. But there are ways to make the most out of an interview even if it doesn’t seem to be going well.
You must be able to adapt to the personality of the interviewer. If your original game plan doesn’t seem to be working, change tactics. You should have a few different answers for the same question. Some interviewers may not want a laundry list of experience and former responsibilities. Some interviewers may be more generally goal-oriented—what you hope to achieve, what you want out of life, rather than how many words you can type a minute. Your interview must correspond to the interviewers personality type.
Some other things you can do to prepare for an interview: iron your clothes, look presentable, and shine those shoes. The last one can actually be very important. Believe it or not, some interviewers take a lot from the state of a person’s shoes. Finally, turn off your cell phone. It can be rude and unprofessional to have a cell phone go off in the middle of an interview.