After leaving the United States Army I had thought that I would easily walk into a long list of jobs and would have a challenge trying to figure out what job to actually take. Three months later and no job interviews on the horizon I was humbled. I had been turned down for all sorts of positions from janitor to CEO. I even was turned down for mall security. Here I had been tasked for the previous 7 years to protect the nation now I was not even good enough to watch one group of stores. I was distressed and confused. It was then that I determined to improve my resume and push my interviewing skills to the max.
How to prepare for a job interview
Preparing for a job interview can be stressful. You must sell you and you are a precious commodity. How do I sound confident and humble at the same time? What if something happens like you realize part way through the interview that your zipper is down? What if you forget your name? If they reject you what does that mean? Am I a loser if I can’t get this job? Don’t read too much into the possibilities but take the following tips to become a master interviewee.
During those three months of desperate searching I was called in for an interview with an eye glass place. They had a motto about helping people see clearly. As I prepared for the interview I remembered that my grandfather had shared that for the first six months of his marriage to my grandmother that she could not see very well. They finally had gotten her some eyeglasses and after putting on the glasses she said, “Oh your handsome.” She had married a man that she had never seen clearly. The interviewer heard that I understood their dream of helping people see clearly.
Take time to find out as much as you can about he organization that you are considering working for. With modern technology that is simple enough. Check out their websites and those of their competitors. Take some time to check out local news services. Do they have a good reputation that you would like to align yourself with? Look at their products and their values. Particularly pay attention to their stated values. Do the values of this organization synch with who you are? If they don’t you might want to cancel the interview. Do some investigation about how close the organization aligns with it’s own stated values. If you agree with them you won’t have to manufacture any passion and you will be able to be sincere and excited in the interview.
Do what you can to find out who will be conducting your interview. I once was conducting an interview and the young man had done some research and discovered that I had been a soldier and was bleeding green still. He took time to shave his beard off for the interview. I was impressed by his willingness to go the extra mile.
A great friend of mine was scheduled for an interview that she was perfect for and that she had been preparing for most of her life. I did not know who else would be interviewing but in my mind she was a shoo in for the job. However she realized that she had a zipper that was at about half mast. She noticed this early in the interview and it served to distract her throughout the questioning. She never found out if anybody noticed it or not but the effect was that she did not get the job. Her distracted answers may have been what held her back more than the zipper itself.
I have made it a pattern to always stop in at a restroom on my way into any meeting. This enables me to look in the mirror real quick and make sure that nothing is out of the ordinary in my appearance that will or would be distracting. I look for food in my teeth, stains on my clothing or anything else that might show me in less than the best light. I take a moment to check my breath and straighten my hair. I also look at myself and tell myself that I can do this. All of those things come together to have me totally prepared for the meeting or interview that I am about to experience.
You have prepared for the interview by learning as much as you can and working through stories that might give answers to any questions that might come up. When you walk through the door you see a picture of your favorite celebrity hanging behind the interviewers head as she interviews you.
For a short season in my life I sold vacuum cleaners door to door. One of the lessons was to do a quick scan around the office or the room where you are meeting someone for clues of their personality. Do they like golf? Do they have pictures of family hanging up? Do they have a mug with a clever saying on it? Use this information to adjust your answers and stories if possible. Don’t get stuck with all of your prepared answers. They may still come in handy but adjust where you can. If you can help the interviewer relate you with things that they are passionate about the more likely they are to remember you when the interview is over.
One of the things that we do at Gospel Rescue Mission in Muskogee is help men and women get back into the workforce. If you have not worked for a while and/or you have some rough spots in your work history this can be terrifying. One of the best ways to work through this anxiety is to practice. Find a friend who can push you harder than the interviewer actually will. Demand that they play rough. The more difficult that you make the practice the easier the actual interview will feel. Another way to practice is to join a club like Toastmasters where they routinely do an activity called Table Topics. These are spontaneous 2-3 minute speeches on a topic that you receive just moments ahead of time. Your mind can be trained to think quickly and that can be a real benefit to you.
Great athletes will use the power of their minds to envision the success that they are dreaming of routinely.
Mental rehearsals can be very powerful. Walk through a successful interview multiple times in your mind. Imagine the phone call or the email offering you the job. Make yourself envision the scenario so dramatically that you almost have yourself convinced that you have the job. This will give you an added level of confidence as you go into the interview and make you a star.
Eventually I did get offered two different jobs and I was able to pick the job that most aligned with my passions and my life goals. The interviews went great though I was not to certain at the time that I had hit a homerun I knew that I had prepared and done my best. The result is that now almost 14 years later I am in my dream job and loving life.