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Interview Strategies

If you are preparing for an interview, you will soon discover the time leading up to the interview can be traumatizing.  You didn't think you had a chance, but you did it!  The call came, a meeting time has been made, and now what do I wear?  Should I arrive early?  What street are they on, OH MY GOD, I don't know where they are located!?!  What did the secretary say is the name of the interviewer?  Once in the building, take the left hall or was it the right?  

A thousand thoughts are racing through your mind simultaneously not to mention being nauseous. Studies have found that individuals handle interviews differently.  No problem, I say.  These are some facts and pointers to help relieve nervousness.  

a) The interviewer is probably just as nervous

b) Take a deep breath before entering the room and try to relax

c) Crack a small (clean) joke because laughing helps relieve tension

In addition to interview strategies there are also some interview rules to follow.  Keep in mind, every employer interviews differently.  Each hiring individual either follows strict or informal hiring guidelines.  You may receive an interview with a "tough as nails" hiring manager or you may be interviewed by a soothing, soft-spoken assistant who utilizes no structured interview questions at all.  No matter which one you receive, be prepared for the worse.  Below you will find a list of interview tips which will help guide you through either both types of interviews.

1) Be confident, but not arrogant.  A common mistake people make is attempting make themselves sound like superwoman or superman.  A company wants to know you can help them but not by taking them to the "Arrogance Super Bowl."

2) Answer positively.  From time to time, an interviewer will touch on a sensitive portion of your past, i.e., reasons for leaving, short term employment, or lack of skills.  These are the times when you should say to yourself, "turn a frown, upside down."  Try answers like these:

Reason for leaving: "I feel I need to take my career into a more positive direction, which is why I am here with you today."

Short term employment: "Shortly after I began, I discovered that position was not going to challenge my abilities or allow the room to grow I require."

Lack of skills:  "I am sure that at first glance it appears I do not have the necessary skills to fill the position, however, I am can assure you I have the drive to conquer any challenges you set forth.  I am completely qualified to handle this position."

3) As mentioned above, laugh a little.  The interview will go more smoothly if you are relaxed and comfortable. 

4) Don't be afraid to answer a question with a question if you do not understand the question.  Get it?  For example, ask questions so that you may better answer the interviewer, i.e.,  "What area of the business are you referring?" or "Can you elaborate further?"  I am sure I speak for most interviewers when I say, "I would rather you ask a question to get further details rather than answer the wrong question."

5) If you are relaxed, be cautious.  A relaxed person tends to "rattle" off more information than necessary.  Scenario:  You are relaxed, drinking the coffee they offered you, and you just completed the story about the funny thing your daughter did that morning before you left.  You feel this person is your friend and there isn't anything you can't tell them, right?  But, just as you think you have landed the job, the interviewer asks why you intend to leave your current position.  At first you may laugh, with the hopes you can compose yourself before you answer, but with no avail.  The dirt starts pouring out like a gossip session and BAM.  You just committed a big interview NO NO.  Beware of the nice interviewer. 

Unfortunately, there is no blueprint to interviewing.  There are tips, tactics, and strategies, but no true method to handling each interview perfectly and flawlessly.  Interviewers are constantly coming up with ways to get candidates to stray from pre-thought answers.  Some interviewers have even resorted to role-play interviewing.  What this means is they give you a common problem and request you strategize how to resolve it.  These types of interviews can be a lot trickier and really require the candidate to have extensive knowledge of the industry and position.  But, this is a topic for another article.

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