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Interview with a Vampire? Not so scary if you’re prepared.

November 4, 2011

Let’s face it, preparing for a job interview is like going to a Halloween Haunted House – it can be scary.  As you sit in an empty conference room waiting for the interviewer, you don’t know who is going to come through the door – a vampire, a witch, a beast, a troll or some other Halloween character.  As you wait in anticipation, anxiety can get the best of you.  However, you are not alone as job interviews can strike terror even with the most experienced candidate.  Here are suggestions on how to prepare for an interview, to calm your nerves and to help your chances to land the job.

1.  Know your story – the Resume.

Your resume is like a script to a movie and only you know the lines to the plot [Tweet].  It’s up to you to be able to tell the story of your experience, your accomplishments and your learnings.  To prepare, ask a friend to help you with role-playing before the interview and anticipating the questions from your story.  There is not a right or wrong answer to typical interview questions.  Interviewers are assessing how you are answering them and evaluating you on:  How confident are you?  Did you learn from mistakes?  Are you articulate?  Do you understand the question?

Trick-or-Treat Tip:  Be careful not to write a lot of buzz words or inflate your resume.  You will get nervous if the interviewer asks to explain things you just wrote for the sake of writing them. Be real and authentic.

2. It’s show time.

Once you have checked in and you are in the waiting area, try some relaxation techniques such as envisioning yourself in a calm setting or doing a few deep breathing exercises or closing your eyes.  Once the interviewer comes out to greet you, it’s show time.  Stand up and offer a firm handshake.  Demonstrate a positive and confident attitude when introducing yourself.  Practice in front of a mirror.

Trick-or-Treat Tip:  While under-confidence is definitely bad, over-confidence is not good either. Be careful not to come across as cocky and too sure of yourself. A firm handshake is great, but don’t over squeeze the interviewers hand if they have a soft handshake. The idea is to ‘connect’ with the person.

3. Listen-Plan-Speak model.

Let the interviewer take the lead and set the tone for the interview.  It helps if you remember the “Listen-Plan-Speak” model that helps structure responses to interview questions.  Typically, interviews are 30 to 45 minutes per person if you have multiple interviewers on your schedule.  It is important to make this time efficient so listen to what the interviewer is asking, then quickly plan how you will respond before speaking.  Many interviewees are anxious and they begin to talk with no ending insight.  Take a deep breath and a few seconds to understand the question then prepare an answer before you blurt out something less intelligent.  By using this model, it will help you have more of a guideline to take your mind off your own anxieties and calm you down.

Trick-or-Treat Tip:  Don’t be afraid to ask if your answer addressed the question the interviewer asked. When in doubt, it is better to clarify than assume you are right. [Tweet]

4.  Take the reins.

Towards the last 10 minutes of the interview, the interviewer may ask you whether you have any questions for him or her.  When you hear this, don’t respond “no,” or bolt for the door with a sigh of relief.  Use this opportunity to solidify a lasting impression with the interviewer.  This is where your research about the company or the industry may be useful or be prepared to ask questions that show you are really interested in the company and the job.  Reading the most recent press release may help you engage in a fruitful discussion about contemporary issues or significant wins about the company.

Trick-or-Treat Tip: If you cannot think of any questions, ask the interviewer to talk about their background or what attracted them to the company. Turn the table around and use the time to interview the interviewer. You may learn helpful tidbits about their role and you’ll earn brownie points as most people love talking about themselves. Here’s another great post on what types of questions you can ask in an interview.

A job interview does not have to be a frightful experience like a scary Halloween scene.  Using some of these insights may help lessen your stress and anxiety levels.  You may discover that even if an interviewer seems to appear like a vampire, a witch, beast, or troll, they are just regular people trying to find someone with the right fit for the right job.

Happy Halloween!

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