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Thread: Improving interview skills: what worked for you?

  1. #1
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    Improving interview skills: what worked for you?

    Hello everyone,

    I'm a frequent reader of the forums, and an infrequent poster but I have a question and I know someone on here will have the answer.

    I got my Masters a couple months ago and I have been applying for positions in SE and mid-Michigan that I am qualified for. I have had a couple interviews in the past month (Department of Transportation and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation to name two). One interview went well, the other, wasn't a disaster, but I just never lost my nervousness, and felt that I wasn't able to sell my skills and experience as much as I should of.

    I feel like my cover letter and resume are solid, but that there is a lot of room for improvement in my interview skills. I have considered going to Toastmasters (I know this helps with public speaking skills, maybe it translates to interviewing?) and doing some mock interviews with the career center at my university. Did these avenues or others help any of you improve your interviewing skills?

    Thanks in advance for your help and advice.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian SGB's avatar
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    practice, practice, practice

    Call the career counseling office where you did your graduate degree, and set up an appointment for practice interviews. They should tape the session and be able to give you some really good advice on how to improve your interviewing skills

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by emu_planner View post
    ... but I just never lost my nervousness, and felt that I wasn't able to sell my skills and experience as much as I should of.
    ... I have considered going to Toastmasters (I know this helps with public speaking skills, maybe it translates to interviewing?) and doing some mock interviews with the career center at my university. Did these avenues or others help any of you improve your interviewing skills?...
    Public speaking experience, particularly that which requires thinking on one's feet, definitely helped me. Washtenaw county doesn't need anyone else calling contra dances, but that's what I've been doing for almost 18 years. (A somber-faced suited interview panel is nuthin' compared with 300 Civil War re-enactors, many armed with hip flasks.) I know what Toastmasters is, but have never done it.

    What helped more was being a freelancer and consultant, and going on interview after interview for temp jobs. Practice makes perfect, and after a while the emotional stakes lowered to the point where the butterflies ceased. (I've been on interviews where it's clear that this is among my questioner's first dozen barbeques, and I end up helping to put that other person at ease.)

    I've also been part of a band performing on stage, and when the regular band leader took a powder, was thrust further into the spotlight. No big deal by then.

    Can you join a performing group (choir or band)? P/T job at an ice cream parlour where you're in charge of introducing a birthday guest? Ask Norm for some ideas as well.

    (a few EMU courses earlier this decade)

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Be confident in what you know. Be prepared with examples of projects you have done. don't attach too much importance to the interview. The ones I have been best at are the ones where I gone in knowing that I am the best cadidate, and that they are courting me as much as, if not mor ethan I am wanting to work for them.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    If you can afford it, Dale Carnegie is well worth considering. It made me a much better public speaker, even though I thought I was pretty good to begin with.

    I also bought a book called "60 Seconds & You're Hired!" by Robin Ryan. It helped a lot.
    Maintaining enthusiasm in the face of crushing apathy.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Plan-it's avatar
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    Find someone high up in an organization, that you trust, who interviews people and makes hiring decisions and perform a mock interview with them.
    Satellite City Enabler

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    Fearless Interviewing is a great book. It opened up my eyes to what I missing with interviewing. I earned two offers for planning jobs after I read it.

    Having said that, put together a list of questions that you think might be asked during the interview. Tackle the harder questions: So, tell me about yourself?, What are your weeknesses? Put together answers. Rehearse these responses over and over so they appear natural and not canned. I also found sitting in front of a mirror when speaking helps so you can check your body language and facial expressions.

    Although it may be difficult when interviewing, play close attention to questions that you didn't anticipate. After the meeting, add these to your question list.

    Finally, just because you had a successful interview or two for a job, don't wait by the phone. Keep the job search going.

    Hope this helps-

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Thought of something else...I bring a "padfolio" to the interview. This contains a couple extra copies of my resume, my four-page complete employment history list, references sheet, business cards, and a notepad and pen. I open it up and get ready to take notes on them while they take notes on me (always ask first, no one says no).

    Looking well organized really helps with performance anxiety, and it's made a great impression. Sometimes one of the committee won't have my resume; here you go. If they conclude by asking for references, here you go. Do you have my card? Here you go.

    And the first thing I write down is the first name of each person being introduced to me.

    HTH

  9. #9
    One of the best things you can get, I've learned, is feedback from those who have interviewed you.

  10. #10
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    Thanks!

    I meant to write this earlier, but a big "thank you" to all of you who wrote in with some advice. I am taking it to heart and putting it into practice. I have scheduled a mock interview with the career center and ordered the books you all recommended. I'm going to keep working on it and realize that a lot of other people are in the same boat as me. Gotta keep at it...

    Thanks again!

  11. #11
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    meds. bourbon leaves a tell tale odor.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    meds. bourbon leaves a tell tale odor.
    for me I gave three interviews only to be interviewed for the fourth time on telephony............ got selected.
    But stll reminds of fearless nights of not getting selected in the interview after clearing aptitude test and physcological test


    Woould keep a keen track on this post...... to better my chances

  13. #13
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    May I suggest...

    Quote Originally posted by mike gurnee View post
    meds. bourbon leaves a tell tale odor.
    Vodka, half a xanax and some gum...? Haven't gone that route yet, but I think it might work.

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