All job seekers know they need to perform well in an interview in order to get a job offer. They want the interview to go well, but many underestimate what it takes to guarantee this. Most job seekers want to be prepared, but they don't know what they will be asked. The whole thought of interviewing makes them feel nervous.
At its best, an interview is a well-rehearsed conversation. We may not be able to say what makes an interview work, but we all feel it when it does. A great interview performance feels genuine and sincere. It flows smoothly and doesn't feel awkward, stale or contrived.
What makes it feel that way? Unlike a play, there isn't a script that's recited word for word, though bits and pieces may be. Interviewers shouldn't feel as if they are listening to a telemarketer script. It's more like great improvisation, based upon your work history. There are elements that are preconceived, so they come off with confidence, but the rest happens in real time so it feels like a natural conversation.
This can be challenging to achieve without preparing, and it's especially important when there are topics you have difficulty or discomfort talking about, like having been fired from your previous job. The more uncomfortable the question, the more important it is for you to have a well-rehearsed answer.
Interviewers traditionally ask a number of similar questions that can be anticipated. Here is a brief list:
- Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
- What is your job history?
- Why did you choose each position?
- Why did you leave each position?
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- Why are you interested in this position?
- What are you looking for in your next position?
- Why are you looking for new employment?
These are predictable questions for which you can easily prepare. There are likely other questions that will be similar across other interviews, especially if you are applying for the same type of position. Take time to think about this. Make a list of what you anticipate being asked. Try to identify how the interviewer will prioritize what is most important in the role.
Have three to five stories that demonstrate those skills and qualities so you can relay your experience to the interviewer in a powerful way. It's more convincing to explain how you solved a problem than to merely say that you did.
There is no better practice than role-playing, so ask a friend to interview you. Since interviews are not scripted, it's best if you don't know what your friend will ask. Have your friend probe your answers with one or two follow-up questions. This will simulate more of what a real interview is like and will force you to get good at answering these questions on the fly.
Just remember, the more prepared you are, the more confident you will feel. Hiring managers choose the candidate they like and believe can do the job. The candidate who has a natural confidence will most likely receive the job offer.