Have a Job Interview You Can Be Proud Of

job interviewIt was my first corporate job.  I went to lunch with some co-workers at the company cafeteria.

I had meat, mashed potatoes, and gravy for my lunch.  As I walked to the table, I placed my tray on the table, leaning over as I did so.

And my fancy tie dropped its tip neatly into the lake of gravy in the middle of the mashed potatoes!

I could feel the blood rush to my face as I saw the huge gravy stain on my tie and the amusement of my co-workers.

Going on a job interview can be like dipping your tie in gravy – if you’re not thinking, you can make some mistakes and feel quite embarrassed.

Are You Worried About Your Job Interview Skills?  You Won’t Be, After You Read This Article

In 10th grade, I was 16 years old. It was time to learn to drive. It was back in the days of using a manual stick shift. I was learning to drive in Connecticut, land of many hills.

At this particular time, I was second in line at the top of a hill, rolling to a stop at a red light.

My heart pumped, my armpits were sweating, and I was nervous. You see, when you’re driving a stick shift car, you have to let up on the clutch and push down on the gas in just the right combination. Otherwise, the car’s engine will jam and stop. Which is what it did to me many times.

With enough practice, I overcame my fear of jamming the engine and rolling backwards, and I learned to drive that car.

But it took time and practice, and some false starts.

Going through a job interview is like driving. It will feel awkward, and you’ll make mistakes. But with enough practice, you’ll feel comfortable.

“There are only two types of speakers: 1) the nervous and 2) liars.”  Mark Twain.  

Mark Twain’s point applies to anyone going to a job interview.  Everyone is nervous.  You’re not alone.

Tips To Help You Interview Well

  1. Dress appropriately for the interview.  Research the company and look for any company literature to get an idea of how people dress for this company.  Consider what kind of industry the company is in.  Certain industries need more formal wear than others.
  2. Wear your clothes a couple of times before you go to the interview.  This will help you get used to your clothes.  Wear them out to go out to lunch once, or to go to the library.
  3. Practice proper hygiene. Make sure there aren’t any stains on your clothes. Brush your teeth, comb your hair (and get a fresh haircut), and wear some cologne (not too much, not too little).
  4. Consider taking a community college class or using your local community college career center.  Many community colleges offer classes on career development.  If you’re a resident in the area, you may also be able to use the career center and sign up for career counseling help to brush up on practice job interviews.
  5. Drive to the interview site.  Michelle Fish suggests figuring out the route the week before.  If your interview is scheduled for 9 am, practice driving to the exact building in the morning traffic, so that you’ll be ready on the day of the interview.  Also, if you’re able to, walk into the building itself so you can get a feel for the environment.
  6. Bring an attractive portfolio holder  with you.  Put multiple copies of your résumé on one side of the portfolio, and research about the company on the other side.  Put together some key facts from company website, and if you know who you’re going to be interviewing with, look them up on LinkedIn, or other places on the internet, so that they know you’ve shown interest in who they are.  Keep the portfolio holder in front of you, so that you can refer to your résumé as well as research facts during the interview.
  7. Watch this video about  body language tips to communicate your confidence and interest in the job.
  8. Read this article from CareerOneStop to check out the kinds of job interviews (telephone screening interview, in-person screening interview, selection interview, work sample interview, peer group interview, group or panel interview, luncheon interview, stress interview, video conference interview) and approach each kind of interview.
  9. When you arrive, introduce yourself briefly by stating your name and the purpose of your visit.  For example, “My name is Jim Smith, and I have an interview scheduled with Jane Jones at 2 pm.”
  10. Offer to shake hands with your interviewer, even if s/he does not.  This shows initiative and confidence.   Tell them that it’s a pleasure to meet them, smile at them, and look them in the eyes.   “I’m Jim Smith, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”
  11. When answering questions and talking about yourself, don’t talk for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  Think of conversation as a game of catch.  The interview asks you a question (like tossing you the ball).  You answer the question, and then wait for the next question.  Or, if you have a question about what the interviewer asked you, you can ask that question.
  12. Practice maintaining proper eye contact.  Eye contact shows that you’re attentive and interested in the conversation.  Dr. Gaus suggests the typewriter method for figuring out how long to look a person in the eye.  Think about sentences, with commas.  This is the way you use eye contact.  You don’t need to stare at the person the whole time they are speaking.  Look them in the eye, then look away, look them in the eye, then look away.  Watch videos of people being interviewed, then role play with someone else.  Have your role play sessions video taped so that you can see how you appear on camera.
  13. During the interview.  Depending on the type of interview, you may be asked to talk about yourself and your experiences.   If possible, research the job description before the interview.  Think about how your skills, interests, and experience match up with the job requirements, and talk specifically about how your background will help meet and exceed those job requirements.
  14. Think of questions you want to find out about the job.  Focus your questions on finding out about all aspects of the job.  Don’t ask about salary and hours (that would come later, after you are offered the job); rather, show genuine interest in the company, the job, their needs, and how you may be able to help them meet their needs.
  15. Finish with Style.  This WikiHow will show you how to close the job interview.  Most importantly, highlight your interest in the company and the job.  Ask what the next steps will be (e.g., a second interview, the timeframe for the hiring decision, who is making the decision, and who you should call to follow up on the status of your application.  Thank the interviewer sincerely for spending the time with you.  Give a firm handshake and make confident eye contact when doing this. Ask for a business card from the interviewer to follow-up and write a thank you note the same day of the interview.

In the Driver’s Seat

After many false starts and frayed nerves, hours of practice, and studying the rules of the road, I passed my driver’s test and got my driver’s license!

Preparation and practice helped me overcome my fear, and I’m now a confident driver.

In the same way, you can overcome your fear of interviewing for a job.  Read these job interview tips over and over.  Prepare by watching other videos and reading books about job interviewing.  Take a class, or practice job interviewing at your local community college career center.  Then, go for it!

Resources and Citations:

Interview Tips from The Aspie Show

Michelle Fish , CEO of Integra Staffing (@IntegraStaffing),  and Dr. Frank Gaskill (@DrFGaskill), of Southeast Psych Services, provided some of the tips I shared.

Job Interview Tips Part 1

Job Interview Tips Part 2 

Rudy Simone wrote the book, Aspergers on the Job: Must-Have Advice for People With Asperger’s or High Functioning Autism and their Employers, Educators, and Advocates.  I picked some of the above job interview tips from her Interview Tips for Those with Asperger’s in the appendix of this book.

I’d love to hear your job interview tips.  Please share them below!

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