Preparing for a job interview can often feel like you are about to enter a battle in a video game.
Will you level up and learn to master new skills?
Can you make more money to be able to buy the gear you need for the next phase of your life?
After leaving the United States Army, I thought I would easily walk into a long list of jobs and would have a challenge trying to figure out what job to take.
Three months later, and with no job interviews on the horizon, I was humbled.
I had been turned down for various positions, from janitor to CEO.
I even was turned down for mall security.
For the last seven years, I was tasked with protecting the nation.
Now, I was not even good enough to watch one group of stores.
I was distressed and confused.
Then, I determined to improve my resume and improve my interviewing skills.
How to prepare for a job interview
Preparing for a job interview can be stressful.
You must sell yourself, and you are a precious commodity.
How do I sound confident and humble at the same time?
What if something happens, like you realize during 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 eyeglass place.
They had a motto about helping people see clearly.
As I prepared for the interview, I remembered that my grandmother could not see well during the first six months of my grandparents’ marriage.
They finally got her some eyeglasses, and after putting on the glasses, she said, “Oh, you’re 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 the organization 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 with which you would like to align?
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 closely the organization aligns with its own stated values.
If you agree with them, you won’t have to manufacture any passion.
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 she was perfect for and 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 at about half-mast.
She noticed this early in the interview, and it distracted her throughout the questioning.
She never found out if anybody noticed it, but the effect was that she did not get the job.
Her distracted answers may have held her back more than the zipper itself.
I have made it a pattern to always stop at a restroom on my way into meetings.
This enables me to look in the mirror quickly and ensure 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.
Then, I look at myself and tell myself I can do this.
All those things come together to prepare me for the meeting or interview I am about to experience.
You have prepared for the job interview by learning as much as you can and working through stories that might give answers to any questions that might come up.
Walking through the door, you see a picture of your favorite celebrity hanging behind the interviewer’s head.
For a short time, 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 about their personality.
Do they like to golf?
Are there 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 they are passionate about, they are more likely 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.
This can be terrifying if you have not worked for a while and/or have some rough spots in your work history.
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.
Think of it as doing side quests to help you win in the dungeon battle!
The more difficult 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.
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 routinely envision the success they are dreaming of.
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 are almost convinced you have the job.
This will give you added confidence as you go into the interview and make you a star.
The outcome of my job interviews
Eventually, I got offered two different jobs, and I could pick the job that most aligned with my passions and my life goals.
The interviews went great, though.
I was not too certain at the time that I had hit a home run, but 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.
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