Although the idea of needing to rehearse for an interview may seem kind of alien to some of us, this is often the best method for preparing for an interview. As with anything, practice makes perfect and interviews are no exceptions.
There are many ways we can prepare for an interview: pressing our best suit, getting our hair and nails done, polishing up our resume. While these are all very important the one preparation method that we sometimes forget is to practice for the speaking part of the interview. Looking good, both on and off paper, is fantastic but being knowledgeable and prepared to answer whatever questions are thrown your way.
One of the best methods I’ve found for preparing myself for interviews is to practice what I’ll say when asked questions. You can start off with basic ones, such as:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why do you want to work for us?
- Why should we hire you?
- What are your greatest strengths? Weaknesses?
- What accomplishments are you most proud of?
Most, if not all, interviewers will ask questions like these so it’s best to always know how to answer these questions. Once you’ve practiced these and feel confident that you can give a good, honest answer to them, you can move on to job specific questions. Here are some suggestions when preparing for job specific questions
- Have you ever done any of the job duties on the job description? Describe how you did them.
- What challenges have you faced within this industry?
- How do you feel you will fit in at the company or in the industry?
- What skills do you bring to the table that are industry related?
Most interviews stick to a basic interview plan so once you’ve had a few you generally will have answers to most questions interviewers ask. This does not mean, however, that you shouldn’t continue to practice. Sometimes interviewers like to shake it up and ask different questions. I’ve been asked things like “If you had $5000 what would you do with it?” and “If you could have any car what car would you buy?” What these had to do with my job, I’ll never know.
Something that I feel we all worry about is what happens when you don’t know the answer to a question an interviewer asks you. Unless it’s something you SHOULD know the answer to (where you went to college, past job experience) be honest about not knowing the answer or not having an answer. This is okay. It’s much better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t have an example of that” than to lie and make something up. During an interview for my current position I was asked to “discuss a time when I was faced with an unethical decision.” At that time in my career, I honestly didn’t have an example. There were probably situations that I could have fudged on and used as examples, but they wouldn’t have shown my interviewer (and future boss) how I truly would have handled an unethical situation.
Interviews are one of the most agonizing and stressful parts of anyone’s career but in the long run are miniscule steps to reaching your career goals. If you prepare for it like you would prepare for anything else you can overcome that stress and go in, guns blazing. And, hopefully, come out with a job offer.