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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Success Strategies: INTERVIEWING SKILLS

You have applied for jobs and edited your resume to death. The time for payoff has arrived, you’ve got an interview! It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this point; do you know how exude professionalism, captivate your audience, and convey your message?

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

1. Do you know where you are going? Plug the address into your smart phone and do a practice run in traffic to make sure you know exactly how long it will take to get to get to your interview location. Make sure to arrive 15 minutes early.

2. Be courteous to everyone your encounter, the parking lot attendant, receptionist - everyone. Many firms ask staff members who have had interaction with you to gauge your personality and “fit.” If you are short or rude with the receptionist, you might just kiss your chances for the job goodbye.

3. Do your research. Google commonly asked or industry specific interview questions. In preparation, contemplate and write out your answers. The better prepared you are, the more natural your responses will be, and you can minimize the chance to get caught “offguard.”

4. Mirror, mirror on the wall, who gives the greatest interview of all? Practice in front of the mirror or a with a willing friend/family member. Have your partner (or mirror) make note of body language, eye contact, and any “ums” in your speech. Practice makes perfect, and projects a professional image. Interviewers expect you to be nervous, but they can tell the difference between nervous and unprepared.

5. Again, with a willing partner - practice your hand shake. The Image Expert, Janice Hurley-Trailor (www.janicehurleytrailor.com) offers 5 steps to a great handshake:

• show your intent - convey you are coming to greet the other person
• your handshake should connect your web of your hand to your partners web
• squeeze gently, but not too hard - try to match the pressure of your partner
• warm eye contact - smile with your eyes
• introduce yourself by name

6. Do research on the company, main competitors, and the occupational industry in general (if you are unfamiliar).

7. Prepare a few questions to ask your interviewers if given the opportunity at the end of the interview. Make sure they are questions of substance and are job related as opposed to an inquiry of where employees park. If given the opportunity, this is your chance to show your interviewer your curiosity, intuition, and analytical abilities.

DURING THE INTERVIEW

1. Come prepared with extra resumes, blank notepaper, reference copies, and portfolio (if applicable).

2. Greet each member of your interview with a firm handshake and eye contact. Remember their names (write them down).

3. Address each member of the panel by Ms./Mr. Jones, unless they ask you to use first names.

4. Take a moment to comprise your thoughts once asked a question, don’t rush to answer.

5. Control the silence. Don’t be afraid of silence in an interview, if you need to take longer than a few moments to comprise your thoughts, just ask - “may I take a minute to collect my thoughts?”

6. Keep your answers short, specific, and related to the question. Try to intertwine some of your research information in your answers to give a little glimpse of your initiative. Do not ramble.

7. If you do not know the answer to a question, or your background, simply state that - be honest. For example state something along the lines of “I do not directly have experience managing remote teams, but, I can walk you through my thought process on how I would do that if you would like.” That type of response turns the question into the hands of the interviewers; most likely they will want to hear how you would handle the situation. Make sure your answers point to experience you have had and how you can relate that to a new situation. The best indicator of future success is past accomplishments.

8. Maintain eye contact when you are responding. If you have a group interview, take a moment to get eye contact with each person on the panel during your answer, but spend the majority of the time speaking to the person who initiated the question.

Working through the stages of preparation and practice will help you achieve interview perfection when called upon. Don’t leave your future to chance, follow the tips above to complete the transformation from applicant to employee.

Regal Resumes provides a mock-interview session where both you and your Certified Employment Interview Professional will role-play as if the interview were actually taking place. After the interview, your consultant will review your strengths and weaknesses and pinpoint areas for improvement to ensure you are aware of the specific factors that employers/recruiters are looking for. Find out more about our Mock Interview services at http://www.regalresumes.com.

Learn more about interviewing and the job market when Caitlin Sampson, Professional Resume Writer with Regal Resumes is a guest on the Reach Out Job Search (ROJS) Radio show this Sunday, March 5, 2012, at 11am EST.

Guest Writing for Regal Resumes: JOLAINE JACKSON, IPMA-CP, SPHR

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