Are you nervous about that interview?

It’s no mystery why interviews make us nervous. We’re asked to travel to a place of business we’ve likely never been to, to meet a person or persons we’ve most likely never met, to answer unknown questions we may or may not feel confident answering. We might even be asked to take a test or two. How do you spell ‘accommodate’ again? Groan.

Oh, and while you’re ruminating over all that, there’s your outfit to consider—an outfit you probably don’t wear often. Is it clean and pressed? Does your tie or other accessories match the rest of the outfit? Are your shoes shined? Good grief!

Okay, we know interviews can cause consternation and nervous sweating. So, what can you do to make interviews something you might actually look forward to? You already know about looking sharp and being on time—that’s Interviewing 101.

What you need to focus on are your interviewing questions—for this post I’ll focus primarily on your questions to a prospective employer. It’s virtually assured that if you ask a few insightful questions you will make an excellent impression. So, how do you get started?

Write down six or seven questions you want to ask the interviewer. You might not have time to ask them all nor do you want to burden or turn off your host with too many questions. But it’s a good bet at least some of your questions will be answered during the interview. Meaning, if you only have one or two questions you may have nothing left when you’re asked. Plus, it also prepares you if you’re interviewing with multiple employees; you can pose a different question or two for each of them, based on their title and what you found out about them in your research

For best effect, I like to have my questions in a folder, notebook or other professional carryall. When the interviewer asks if you have any questions you can then say, “As a matter of fact, yes I do, let me get them out.” Having your questions tucked away with easy access and then retrieving them not only eliminates the need to try and memorize them but adds a bit of flair and will impress you interviewer by showing you cared enough to take the time to write them down.

Here are some sample questions:

    • “I noticed on LinkedIn you worked at Company B. Can you tell me  how that prepared you for your position here?”
    • “I did a little research on your company; your website indicates that you specialize in XYZ. I’ve been very successful in that role for ABC Company. What are the skills you value most for someone being hired to do XYZ in the position?
    • “Can you tell me about the person currently (or previously) in ‘my’ position? Why are they leaving, or why did they leave?”
    • “How is your company dealing with the current economy and how are you preparing for the future.”
    • “Can you tell me about the work and cultural environment—why do you love working here?”
    • “How would you describe your work style?”

These type of questions level the playing field. Remember, it’s a two-way conversation. You may even decide, based on their answers, that you are no longer interested in the position. That alone could save you lots of aggravation if you end up getting hired by a company you’re not compatible for. But at the very least, you were able to practice and fine tune your interviewing skills, and may even be able to add the interviewer to your network for future opportunities, there or elsewhere.

Some final quick tips:

Practice answering questions in front a mirror or better yet, with a friend

Remember, the reason most of us get nervous is because we haven’t practiced doing something enough to feel confident about it.

Re-read your resume the night before or the day of your interview

This sounds almost too obvious to mention, but it’s easily overlooked. You may have forgotten something you’ve written and then will look unprepared if you’re asked about it. It’s also okay if you’ve updated your resume between the time you sent in your application and the day of your interview, that you present your interviewer with your latest version. Maybe you found a typo or reworded a line to clarify one of your positions. If it’s the latter, make sure to point this out to your interviewer. And keep an extra resume in front of you during the interview so you’ll see what your interviewer is seeing.

Don’t wait until the last minute to double check your interview outfit

A few days before your interview, check out your ensemble to make sure everything’s ready to go and not in need of dry cleaning. You’ll feel more confident and more motivated when you’re feeling good about your appearance.

interview, job, Jobsearch