A friend of mine has an interview coming up and she's suffering from interview jitters. Why? Because she knows she can do the job, she knows she's qualified, but she knows she chokes when she's asked questions on the spot. She's excited to start something new, but she's worried that her lack of interviewing skills may hold her back from moving on. If you've ever been on an interview, you know it's a strange feeling to audition for a job you may or may not actually want in the end. Most people get jobs and either love it and stay forever or hate it and jump back into the highly competitive interview pool. Interviewing is a skill. It's something you can develop, but it takes time and practice just like everything else. She asked for my help on how to approach the interview, and here's what I said. Be Prepared Turn on your inner stalker and research the company all the way down to the employees, average salary, and press releases. Learn the history of the company so you don't look stupid when you're asked, "So tell me what you know about us." If you can find out the names of the people you'll be speaking with, stalk them too. Go to their LinkedIn profiles and see who you'll be talking to, believe me, you can learn a lot there. My best piece of advice is to take the job description, go through it line by line, and give an example of where you've already done/learned the skill. For example, if they're looking for someone with project management experience, be prepared to discuss where you managed, how you managed, and what the outcome was. This practice will help you remind yourself of all the great things you've done and keep it fresh in your mind. Be Yourself Don't be a weirdo, be honest. Don't think about what you think the person wants to hear. Answer all questions truthfully, but be smart about what you reveal. Keep your answers focused on the question and be genuine. Use eye contact, body language, and tone of voice to convey interest and for god sake, smile! If you're uncomfortable with the person asking the questions, chances are you'll be uncomfortable working side-by-side with that person. Remember that this is an interview for you as well. If you get creeped out, don't take the job. Be Interesting Tell them you want the job. Lots of people don't do this. Even if it seems like it's implied, say it out loud. Also, figure out a way to be memorable. Use your talents. Are you great at communicating with your words? Do you have a kick-ass portfolio? Do you have a favorite bow tie? People remember quirky things, so make sure you have something in your back pocket that will make the interview memorable. If you're attractive, you know what to do. Be Smart If all else fails: Fake it till you make it. Not everyone is confident, but everyone can fake it. Get in character and play the role of the person who nails the interview. Tell yourself before you walk through the door that you're going to get the job. Emphasize your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. People respond well to confidence and not well to cockiness, so learn how to walk that line. Google yourself and make sure what comes up can't be misconstrued as hardcore character flaws. Remove all incriminating evidence. If you still have the jitters after following this list, it's time for the last-ditch effort: Take a shot and lighten up! For more information on interviewing, check out my favorite career blog Ask A Manager.
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