Smart candidates work hard to prepare for interviewing. They spend hours on their résumé, seek the help of others, perhaps even pay for a professional service in their effort to create a great résumé. They Google and review the most commonly asked interview questions for the role they are seeking. Perhaps, they even read up on behavioral interviewing techniques to prepare for that challenging line of questions. They consult with Engineering recruiters, IT recruiters or other types of recruiters, headhunters and staffing firms to see what they should be doing to prepare.
Now they are all set! Right?
The truth is that interviewing is tough…for the candidate and the interviewer. For the hiring manager, the process of identifying a new employee is something akin to meeting someone and then deciding after a few short hours whether to begin a long-term relationship with that person. This is a scary proposition and has a tendency to place the interviewer in a hyper vigilant mode. They look at every answer and even your non-verbal communications (i.e., handshake, eye-contact, smile, confidence, voice inflection, posture, dress, etc...); and everything is magnified in importance. Little missteps can be conflated into something large enough to derail the candidacy of an otherwise qualified person.
Most candidates interview only every few years or so…and for most of us, interviewing skills get rusty pretty quickly. A well-qualified job seeker can sometimes burn through several good job prospects before they have enough experience to interview effectively. In an economy where job responsibilities are so specific, that can mean significant and potentially costly down time between jobs for the unemployed or lost opportunities for persons who are currently working in roles they’d like to improve upon.
So, is there a way to get experience interviewing without actually interviewing? Perhaps not. However, we can simulate the interview process…so as to be best prepared for the real thing. And the very good news is, it’s quite simple.
When you are preparing your answers to the list of questions you anticipate (again your Google research will help here), ask and answer the questions OUT LOUD. Speak the words; don’t just think the answers. Speak your answers into the record feature of your cell phone. Then, listen to your answers…the words you are choosing, your tone of voice. Be honest, even critical. Ask yourself candidly, if you were the interviewer, would you want to work with a person who responded that way? If not, keep at it… polish your responses and keep polishing until you are confident they shine and reflect the desired tone and content. If you still have doubts, ask someone you trust to help you…get them to ask you the questions. See what they think about your answers.
This simple technique will greatly improve your interviewing performance, even if it’s been awhile since your last real interview!