How to Rehearse for a Job Interview
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A job interviews is almost always nerve-wracking. It is supposed to be a chance for you to show your best self to your potential employer, but the pressure placed on the interviewee can have the very opposite effect. By setting aside time to have a “rehearsal” for your job interview, you can help yourself feel more comfortable leading up to the meeting date. You can also use this as an opportunity to pinpoint any areas that you need to work on in your presentation and your demeanor.
Do Your Research
The more you know about the company for which you will be interviewing, the better-prepared you will be. You can use your research to plan talking points, and even questions to ask your interviewers. You can also research the types of questions they are likely to ask. If you cannot find anything specific to the company, try an industry-wide search.
Find a Friend
It would be ideal to find a friend with experience in the type of work for which you will be interviewing. However, any trusted friend willing to give you a time will work. Ask him or her to play the part of the interviewer and to give you feedback after your practice session.
If you cannot or do not want to involve anyone else, another option is to record yourself practicing, perhaps on a computer webcam or on a phone. Then, watch yourself afterward.
Prepare Points, Not Answers
You may think you know the exact questions you will be asked in your interview. However, not only is it impossible to predict this with accuracy, but “scripting” your practice interview may hurt the impression you give. If you rattle off a memorized answer to a question, you send the message that you are not thinking carefully about what you have been asked. Instead, prepare some talking points. Rephrase each point several times to get comfortable with the information, rather than the words, themselves. The best interviews should feel more like a conversation than a Q&A session.
Good, confident body language can do just as much for you as good answers. Using your friend or your screen, work out what kind of impression you are giving. Are you hunching over, or sitting up tall? Are your hands moving aimlessly, or purposefully? The way you speak can also leave an impression. You may speed up or become high-pitched when you are nervous, and you should be ready to adjust.
Use an Uncomfortable Space
When you are interviewed, you will most likely be quite nervous. There is nothing wrong with this, and you can work out how to deal with it. Perhaps you fidget when you are nervous, and need to practice holding still – but how will you find this out, sitting on your sofa at home?
You could go with your friend to a coffee shop and practice there. You could borrow a friend’s office after work hours, if you are allowed. Even rearranging the furniture in your own home can help get you into the right mindset.
Start to Finish
First and last impressions are hugely important. It is best to run your “rehearsal” from the moment you enter the interview room to the moment you leave it. Smiles, greetings, introductions and how you get up from your chair should all be rehearsed. If working with a friend, be sure to practice your handshake, and get feedback. Handshakes are often scrutinized more than you think.
Dress the Part
You probably have an outfit planned for the interview. If it is a good suit or a skirt, you may not have worn it in a while, or it may be new. This is a fine opportunity to test it out and to see if everything fits and is comfortable. New or formal clothes can sometimes be a little distracting, and this will make you a bit more comfortable.
Run through your practice interview a few times. Most importantly, make sure it is different every time. Change both the questions and the content of your answer to give you the broadest preparation possible.
If you are working with a friend, you can ask in advance to plan changes to try and catch you off-guard. You could even ask the friend to include moments of “sabotage,” like having a phone ring halfway through, or asking you something they know you are not prepared to answer.
You should think of your rehearsal as preparing for a sports game, rather than practicing for a play. Learn the skills and go over your best moves, but also know that you will be dealing with real people when you get there. Anticipating the unexpected is far better than trying to predict it.