Practice makes perfect – or perhaps this should be upgraded to the even more clichéd perfect practice makes perfect – and when it comes to job interviews, you may have missed the boat if the first time you articulate your thoughts is in the actual interview itself.
With the advances in technology, there really is very little excuse for not having at least listened to, if not seen, yourself answer some possible questions beforehand.
All smartphones these days have recording facilities. So you can ask yourself a question and listen to your answer while you’re sitting at the bus-stop or waiting to meet someone in a coffee shop. Of course, the ideal situation is to sit yourself down in a private space on a number of occasions before the interview itself and record yourself answering five or six questions together.
You can write down the questions beforehand and be your own interviewer.
When you’ve completed your answers, you can easily send them to people you know and ask them to assess your performance. People will spot things – the hostages to fortune you left trailing in your wake, the opportunities you missed by not drawing on some previous experience you have.
In this way, you can get yourself fully into the zone for the job interview. I hasten to add that you can never anticipate every – or perhaps even any – question the interview panel will throw at you, but you should be able to identify general topics or lines of enquiry they may pursue.
A few words of caution about recording yourself either on audio or video. Firstly, most people who are not accustomed to hearing the sound of their own voice recoil when they hear it: but in time, you will get over that, so work through it, grin and bear it, and eventually you will start to get used to it and perhaps even grow to love your dulcet tones.
Secondly, reviewing videos of ourselves tends to be a chilling experience. Wedding dance floors house carnage that should never make the screen. Plus, the camera puts on ten pounds, they say.
Ergo, there’s a danger that when you record your mock interview, you will focus on the wrong things. You may be inspired to go on a crash diet or a crash binge, but that is not the appropriate response four days before the interview itself.
When reviewing the video, watch it for the things you can control: the depth and quality of your answers, the warmth of your engagement with the panel, the speed of your delivery, and so on. Through careful study of the video, by you and by others, you can isolate your errors.
In our experience, one of the biggest errors people make is the missed opportunity – the failure to adduce evidence that supports their candidacy. It is important to be explicit in job interviews. Don’t hope the interview panel will make the connection between one aspect of a job you held ten years ago and the role they are now giving out: if you want them to see the connection, tell them.
Sli Nua Careers offer CV preparation, interview training and mock interview services at their offices in Galway, Limerick, Dublin, and Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. To get a copy of their presentation Making Job Interviews Work For You, email firstname.lastname@example.org with interview presentation in the subject line.