Although I’ve specialized in résumé strategy and development throughout my career, many of my clients have queried me on how to really shine during job interviews.
The maxim “practice makes perfect” is as true for interviewing as it is for any other important activity. And although my clients know this, I’ve heard more than a few times that despite extensive practice interviews, when the crucial time arrived it was as if they hadn’t prepared at all.
This was because whatever they learned while practising didn’t sink in. So how can we solve this problem?
The answer is to design a thorough, job-relevant mock interview feedback form and then have whoever is interviewing you review it beforehand (so they know what to watch for) and fill it in as completely as possible. That way, you’ll receive a very clear picture of what you do and don’t need to focus on while preparing for the hot seat.
A couple of days ago, I was invited to share my expertise at a résumé development workshop at a local employment centre. I attended, shared some strategy with the students, and then was surprised by an invitation to be the interviewee during a mock interview.
My first thought was What?? I didn’t expect this!! (like most of you, I still get nervous during interviews and probably always will). But realizing that bowing out wouldn’t exactly enhance my professional image, I happily agreed (despite my newly-sweating palms) and chose the role of “Branding Consultant”.
Thirty minutes later we were done, and what really impressed me was the highly informative one-page feedback form that I received afterwards (my apologies for the unreadable bits).
This simple, straightforward form has basically two kinds of information: specific questions (in the top half), and feedback on how well I handled those questions (in the bottom). The top half enables you to review and improve your answer content (rather than “shooting from the hip”, which is generally a very bad idea), and the bottom half highlights where you can improve your answer delivery. It gives me great insight into what needs a little more work (in my case, the biggie is “time management”) and where I’m already performing well.
So start creating those feedback forms! Be sure to choose a few tough questions, and don’t neglect the “easier” ones. Your job/company/industry research will help you with coming up with the most job-specific questions. For a list of the more important general ones, check out articles like this one on Monster. To learn what interviewers feel is important, Ronnie Ann can give you the inside track, and you’ll also find good stuff on Pongo, Forbes, Inc., and Undercover Recruiter.
And the next time find yourself sitting on a chair with one leg shorter than the others, facing an interview squad and wishing you were blindfolded, those butterflies will do a better job of flying in formation.
Paul Raworth Bennett (Founder and Principal of NOVA Career Strategies) is a résumé expert, LinkedIn consultant, and Reach-certified Personal Branding Strategist (who was lucky enough to have Susan Chritton and Kirsten Vernon as his instructors). If you want to star in your own career, Paul would be happy to connect with you via the NOVA Career Strategies website, his Twitter account, or through his LinkedIn page.