This week I was asked by a colleague if I could cover his class while he was out of town. Any chance to get in front of our students I consider a good thing so I quickly said yes. He gave me carte blanche on topics to cover and said have fun. Most people who know me have learned that giving me carte blanche can be a very dangerous thing…but what-the-hey, I’ll take it.
The class was comprised of students who are getting ready to graduate, a few midway through their program and a few that had just finished their first term on career development skills. Giving my normal presentation on career prep wasn’t really going to fit so I decided to open the class with the question, “What do you really want me to talk with you about, what information is going to serve you the best?”
I was surprised at how participatory everyone was and the list of questions they came up with.
1. How do you deal with nerves before and during an interview?
2. How do you address lack of applicable job history or no job history at all?
3. How do you disclose a background issue without disqualifying yourself from consideration?
4. How do you address a jumpy job history?
These were all awesome questions, but for the sake of today I would like to talk about the one we spent the most on…dealing with nerves.
I believe that to some degree everyone is nervous in an interview; it’s a highly subjective session where you are trying to sell your skills, your past performance and your personality with little more than you to back you up. Being nervous doesn’t make you a less qualified candidate it makes you human.
I can give you three sure fire ways to nail your interview and come off knowledgeable, confident and secure…
Yes this is very simple, then why don’t more people do it? Why do so many individuals answer the question, “So what questions do you have for me?” with “I don’t have any.” Really, you don’t have any questions about the organization you are going to tie yourself to for more than half your waking work week hours, you don’t want to know anything about them? You NEED to have thoughtful questions about THEM, otherwise you just told them you are looking for a job and any job will do.
Prepare in advance for the questions they may ask, there are literally thousands of online resources available with industry specific questions. Read them, prepare answers to them, practice those answers and then when you feel you could answer them in your sleep, practice them again.
The internet can be your friend, there is very little that can’t be found out about an organization. Take 30 minutes, find out about the history and future of the company, their motto/mission statement. Use this information during the interview and impress them with the time you took to really find out who they are and how your passions align with theirs.
Prepare, prepare, prepare…yes it is that simple. I’ve had employers call me after one of my graduates interviewed with them just to let me know that the questions my students asked were what got them the job. “If they are that dedicated to find out about who we are and what we do…that’s the kind of person we want working for us.”
Benjamin Franklin told us that, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Well I think for the purpose of this article “an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of fast talking, fancy resume writing, and shoe shopping.”