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Dust Yourself off and Try Again: How to Improve Your Interviewing Skills

Sure, interviewing for a new position can be stressful and anxiety provoking but it doesn’t have to when you give yourself the confidence booster you need.

It took less than 2 weeks to get a job offer for 43% of new hires involved in one survey. Job offers don’t come that fast for everyone, but brushing up your interviewing skills can help you impress your interviewers and increase your odds.

Being fully prepared for the interview builds your confidence, which comes across in your interview. Knowing how you’ll answer questions is a big part of the interview preparation process.

Check out these tips for brushing up your interview skills before you head out for your next job interview.

Think About Common Interview Questions

Thinking ahead to the common questions you can expect in interviews helps you know how to answer. Being prepared can help you relax before the interview because you know how to answer.

Consider job-specific questions related to the position. If you’re applying for non-teaching jobs in the education field, you can expect questions related to education trends, your education background, and similar questions. Anticipating those job-specific questions helps you formulate solid answers.

Plan how you’ll answer those expected questions. Instead of writing out full, scripted answers, jot down key points for each question. Then, practice the answer without memorizing it or sounding too rehearsed.

Know How to Handle Unexpected Questions

No matter how much interview question research you do, you’ll likely face at least a few unexpected questions at the interview. Prepare yourself mentally for this possibility. Imagine how you’ll handle a question that catches you off guard.

Remember that it’s okay to tell the interviewer that you’re not sure. You can also tell the interviewer that you need a minute to think about the answer. Being honest is important, even if it means admitting you’re not sure how to answer a question.

Brainstorm Past Experiences

It’s common for interviewers to ask for examples of specific skills or situations from your past work experience. Even if they don’t ask for real-life examples, using them in your answers to interview questions can make you a stronger candidate.

Think back on your previous job experiences to highlight key experiences. Questions of this nature might relate to work conflict, preparation, or handling difficult situations. The job description is also a good spot to find potential topics where you can share personal experiences or examples.

Do a Practice Interview

Practicing your answers to interview questions out loud helps you speak confidently. Doing a mock interview with someone else can help you better work on interview mannerisms. Practice using eye contact and voice infection while answering the questions.

“Interviewing” with someone else is also a chance to get feedback. Your interviewer can point out things such as saying, “um,” too much, looking at the table, or doing nervous movements.

An ideal person to do the mock interview is someone who works in HR or handles job interviews. They can give you professional feedback on your interviewing skills.

If you’re a recent college graduate, check with the career services office. They may offer mock interviews for students or recent graduates.

Hire a Career Coach

If you don’t have any connections to the HR world, consider hiring a career coach to prepare you for the interview process. Career coaches often help job seekers with a variety of tasks, including interview prep. This can include a mock interview.

Look for a career coach with extensive experience in the business world, especially HR or recruiting experience.

Review the Job Description

Once you have an interview scheduled, review the job description to get a better understanding of the position. Focus on the key responsibilities of the job. The interviewers will likely ask you about your experience with those responsibilities.

Pick out keywords from the job description that give clues about the priorities for the position. Work those keywords into your interview questions and examples of your past experience.

The job description is essentially a guide to preparing for the interview. Your goal is to show that you can handle the responsibilities of the job and that you have the necessary qualifications to fill the role well.

Research the Company

Another point of research is the company itself. Learn as much as you can about the company’s mission, projects, and background. Check out all online sources of information, including social media accounts and the official company website.

Understanding the company well helps you answer questions in a way that shows you’re a good fit. If the company uses cutting-edge technology, find ways to demonstrate how you stay on top of that technology or have used it in previous work.

Cultural fit is also important. Interviewers want to know that you not only have the technical skills for the job, but that you’ll fit into the company culture. If a company has a very casual, laid back philosophy and you like things very rigid and organized, you may not be the best fit.

Review the background of your interviewers for insight into what they might ask. An interviewer who is heavily involved in research may ask you about your history with research.

Look for employee profiles on the company website. LinkedIn profiles can also provide information. If you know someone who works for the company, ask if they have an insight into your interviewers.

Dress the Part

The way you look impacts the impression you make on interviewers. It can also affect how you feel going into the interview. If you look polished and professional and feel comfortable, that will come across in the interview.

Lay out an interview outfit well in advance so you don’t stress about what to wear at the last minute. Check the outfit for cleanliness, and make sure it’s wrinkle-free. Try on the outfit before your interview to make sure it feels comfortable and looks the way you expect.

Improve Interviewing Skills

Your interviewing skills can determine whether or not you land your dream job. Anticipating what might happen in the interview and preparing for those possibilities boosts your confidence. Check out more of our blog posts for additional helping your job search and interview process.

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