interview preparationBy Ann Eastham
Contributor, Career Coach

Interviewing can be one of the most stress inducing aspects of a job search, especially when you are new to the process. Speaking with someone you don’t know can be challenging under ideal conditions, much less when your goal of the interaction is to land your dream job.

Preparing for an interview can make it or break it for most people, but many don’t know where to start. If you’re new to interviewing, or need to improve your skills, consider the following ways of becoming comfortable:

Mock Interviews

Mock interviews are a great way to get your nerves out by role playing the interview. Grab a friend or family member to help you if you don’t have access to a career coach. Practice everything from your hand-shake, to your elevator pitch, and the questions you would ask at the end. Take your time with the mock interview though and pause to research the best way to answer a question you’re stumbling on. Remember that this is your time to prepare for the real thing.

TIP: Look up interview questions online and examples of effective ways to structure your answers.

Speaking Clubs

Toastmasters, or a group like it, is an organization dedicated to helping people develop their public speaking skills. You might wonder what public speaking and interviewing have in common and the answer is a lot. Part of nailing an interview is being confident and speaking clearly in front of people you’ve never met before and Toastmasters aim is to instill that confidence in you. Many resources focus on improving the quality of your speaking voice with exercises aimed at relaxing your voice, to improving articulation, and controlling your pitch. However, some exercises center around sounding confident even when you aren’t. One student I worked with joined Toastmasters and said the most helpful exercise was when a topic was given and he had 30 seconds to come up with an answer that didn’t include “um” or “like.” Take a moment and think about how that could help you in an interview!

Improv/Local acting groups

This might not sound relevant, but part of interviewing is being comfortable and confident in front of someone you’ve never met, and gaining exposure and experience could help you calm your nerves. The skills you gain in an improve class could help you react to some of those more “off the wall” or unexpected questions. Being able to think quickly and on your feet comes across in an interview, so take the time to develop this skill.

By becoming comfortable with interviewing you are really giving the interviewer a chance to know the real you, and not the nervous you. Your preparation and confidence will shine and hopefully turn your interview into an offer.

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