In the previous blog post, we have discussed two initial steps in job hunting – plan and prepare. In this post, check out the next two steps: practice and perform.
Step 3: Practice
You might have heard that “practice makes perfect”, and this is a very important step in job hunting. An athlete would practice a lot for an important competition. Likewise, you have to practice your interview techniques a lot in order to beat the job competition.
Practicing can take place with a friend, family member or a counsellor. There are many books available that provide sample questions and sample answers. Feedback on your interview skills may involve peers, general comments, and/or videotape. Here are some sample questions for you to use:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you look for in a job?
- How long would it take for you to make a meaningful contribution?
- Why are you looking for a new career?
- How would your boss describe you?
- How would your colleagues describe you?
- What were the five most significant accomplishments in your last position?
- What are your strong points?
- What are your weak points?
A videotape is an excellent way for you to see yourself as an employer would see you. You can dress as you would for an interview and have someone you know act as the interviewer. You will then be able to notice how you handle yourself, how you sit, and how you respond to questions. For instance, did you give enough information or too much information. You can also note if you have any habits you are unaware of. This will help you become comfortable in presenting your skills to an employer.
Step 4: Perform
Think of your interview as a performance. You must prepare for it (research the employer, practice interview questions), dress appropriately (dress for the job you are applying for), and have the proper equipment (copy of resume, references, portfolio, and pen) to show that you are ready to do the job.
The first two to three minutes of your interview are the most important. An employer usually makes a decision based on your appearance and your opening presentation. It is important that you make the most of these precious minutes.
A smile is a big part of your wardrobe. If smiling doesn’t come naturally to you, practice in front of a mirror until it feels comfortable. Ensure that your body language doesn’t send the wrong message. Don’t cross your arms across your chest, or keep checking the clock. Check your appearance, both standing and seated, in a mirror. It is important to try to relax, but do not slouch in your chair. Don’t chew gum during your interview, and if you are a smoker, try to have your last cigarette at least 10 minutes before your interview and freshen your breath with a breath mint.
Another important point is to never say anything negative about your previous employer. It may make the employer wonder what you would say about them, and you never know who is related to whom.
Make sure that you have some questions to ask the employer. Not “how much money will I make and how long do I get for vacation?”, but questions that show you have researched the employer and have some knowledge of their company. Make a list of potential questions to ask. If the interviewer has been very thorough and you can’t think of any questions, at least find out when they will be making a decision and ask if it is OK to follow up.
Here are some sample questions you can ask.
- Why is this position open?
- What are some of the more difficult problems one would have to face in this position?
- What significant changes do you forsee in the near future?
- What are some of the objectives you would like to see accomplished in this job?
- What are some of the long-term objectives you would like to see completed?
- How is one evaluated in this position?
- What accounts for success within the company?
If you think you can sit back and relax after your “performance”, you are wrong. There is still one final step which is as important as the previous steps. Wait for our next blog post for the final step!