Don't Fear the Interview

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You logged in countless hours online conducting your job search, networked thoroughly and tirelessly, sent out reams of resumes, and now you landed an interview. Congratulations. The stage is set and now all you've got to do is remember your lines and perform. Trouble is, you're worried about coming down with a major case of stage fright in the middle of your performance. Don't worry — there are concrete things you can do to quell your worst fears and turn your experience into It's a Wonderful Interview instead of Interview with a Vampire.

1) Pre-Interview Preparation: Gather as much information as you can when you are setting up your interview. This means asking for directions and whether or not you will be meeting with more than one person. Think of it as an opportunity to chat and learn more about the company you want to work for. Be sure your references are in order and carry a paper with information in case you need to fill out an application. Interviews are unpredictable, but there are things you can control. For instance, if you are not dressed properly, it will send the interviewer the wrong message. Invest the time in finding a suitable outfit so you won't have to worry about how you look. Gain confidence by remembering that you have already made it farther along in the process than the majority of applicants.

2) Rehearse Your Role: If you fear pauses and silences, rehearsal is the remedy. Have a friend compose questions you are likely to be asked and practice. Concentrate on delivering about a minute long answer to the question "Tell me about yourself." Your response should be in tune with the position you are applying for and its duties. Talk about your experience and how you have the skills the employer is looking for. At the end, add in something personal that makes you distinct and shows you can definitely do the specific job. Imagine you are leaving a phone message when you deliver your speech — there's no time for rambling or irrelevant information.

3) Get Engaged: Interviewers expect candidates to be nervous during an interview and allow for it. What they will not overlook is a candidate who doesn't seem enthusiastic and interested in working for them. Staying engaged throughout the entire process is required. If you can't manage to remain interested during the interview, how soon will your interest wane when you are working? Remember, interviewers are nervous, too. Anticipate sensitive areas you may be queried about and address them head on. For example, if you are asked about a gap in your employment, explain that you took advantage of this time to gain experience working various temporary positions and taking computer classes to master new skills. Always turn possible negatives into positives and weaknesses into strengths. Anticipating tough questions in an interview is half the battle, and once you are prepared to answer them candidly your fear will cease to be an issue.

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