How do you improve your interviewing skills? First, you have to want to improve. Second, you need a plan. Third, you need to practice to become proficient. There are three primary ways to assess your interview performance in order to improve:
- Self-analysis – Video tape or record a practice interview with a coach or mentor, with answers to questions you know will be asked (see below)
- Feedback from job interviews – If you get turned down after an interview, thank the interviewer and ask for feedback: Were you missing a skill or experience? Were you not a fit? Was there an internal candidate? Many times, they will help you.
- Sit down with a coach, mentor or role model and review the questions you were asked and your answers. Review and modify your answers. Many times, the questions from interviews will be similar or repetitive. Assess and refine your answers for the next interview that will position you better.
There are a number of different interview opportunities:
- Telephone interview – From a check-list of key experiences paralleling the job specs
- First one-on-one interview – In-depth questions into your background/experiences from your resume, and non-resume questions around strengths and weaknesses
- Second interview – Usually to find out if you fit the culture and operating team
- Third interview – Meet the boss’s boss, other key players and maybe an offer
Here are some of the questions you need to ask yourself after the interview:
- How far did you make it through the interview cycle? Why not further?
- What went right / wrong? What questions gave you the most trouble?
- What would you do differently? The approach? The content? The relationship?
- How can you better prepare? There are about 50 most asked questions that are non-resume related. Make a list of what you think will be asked and practice your responses. Take each line of your resume and ask, “What will be the questions about this line item?” Develop your answers before the question is asked.
Don’t take a turndown personally. Usually when you come in second, it’s because:
- An internal employee was chosen – less risk for them, but potentially less reward
- A recommended candidate was chosen – more risk and potentially more reward
- A hire from the outside – the most risk and potentially the greatest reward
Add to your skills set: Experience a TED talk; research new approaches to your function; take a free online seminar; get an on-line certification in your field; take an on-line course in your functional area; attend industry events on-line; join an industry/functional association; network opportunities; expand your network; seek referrals; contact the alumni and career offices from university. They may know or have contacts that you can use.
The greatest gift you can give yourself for your job search is to create a compelling resume and improve your interviewing skills. Then practice the best answers to questions you know will be asked. Your next job is waiting for you.
For a FREE critique of your resume, send to: firstname.lastname@example.org