Master Career Counselor

Carla Hunter, President of Career Span, Inc. is a Master Career Counselor (MCC) by the National Career Development Association and a Certified Career Coach by the National Board for Certified Counselors. She is an expert in writing resumes, effective job search strategies and interviewing success. Most recently, with over 20 years of navigating the complexity of today's world of work, she published "Finding Your Place in the World of Work", a career interest inventory (2014) and CareerView, an iPad app. As a private practice career counselor and a workforce development consultant, this blog is Carla's trove of ideas, trends, forecasts, and career tips for finding meaningful work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Job Interview: the adult version of the science fair competition

The most anxiety provoking stimulus on the planet is preparing for a job interview.  The trepidation causes physical symptoms ranging from cold hands and heart palpitations to severe migraine headaches.  The reason?  Our human nature fears rejection. We don't want to make a fool of ourselves and fail to ace an interview that leads to a job we really want.

So much seems to be at stake for such a short window of sitting at the table with strangers.

Thus, many jobseekers feel powerless when preparing for an interview and that lack of confidence can sabotage their chances. 

What can you do to increase the probability of success?

Know the rule of controlled variables.

Remember the day you completed your science fair exhibit for school?  The entire experiment was based on your ability to hypothesize, conduct procedures and draw conclusions from the results.  The key to success was in comparing the trials with variables you controlled with the one variable you couldn't.  
Interviewing is exactly the same process.

It is the adult version of a science fair project and the employer is your judge.

1. The variables you cannot control

Here is a list of the variables you can't sway or change that may affect your interview:

1. The interviewer had a bad morning before coming to work and sits at the table in a closed posture and horrible mood.  You think he just doesn't like you.
2. The employer interviewing you is in a conflict with his boss and displaces aggression in terse questions that take you off guard.  You had no idea this was going on.
3. There is an internal candidate privy to being hired and you know nothing about it.
4. The interviewing panel has poorly prepared for discovering your talent and if you're a match for the position. The interview ends abruptly and you don't know why.
5. The interviewers ask questions you haven't prepared for including illegal ones and it leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth.

I could go on and on, but catch my drift: there are some things you can't change that may impact your interview success.

BUT!  There are variables that you can control, so take the reins and make sure you minimize a potentially negative perception.

2. The constant variables you control

Here is a list of the most important variables that you have the power to regulate:

1. Your attire- Make certain you dress professionally to the interview with no exception.  Employers are now seeing young adults coming to an interview in pajama bottoms.  Seriously!
2. Your smell- Make certain you don't wear strong perfume or cologne.  Allergies, scent of a former spouse can adversely affect your interview.  Smell clean and fresh with plenty of deodorant.
3. Your body- Have a strong handshake, confident eye contact and warmth in your smile.  Don't wear excessive jewelry (especially on the face) and show your prized tattoos.  It is a variable that could be negative.  Do you want to risk it?  Maybe you do.  If you choose to show body art and piercing it will certainly weed out an employer if they decline to offer you a job because of your body art. 
4. Your mannerism and language- Be friendly, open and honest in your answers.  This calls for serious preparation and mock interviews with friends to get comfortable hearing yourself discuss the finer points of your talent.
5. Your answers- Study the company, the job description, interview professionals in that position at other companies and practice your responses. 
6. Your cell phone, friend or parent- Leave it or them at home. End of explanation.

It all comes down to convincing the interviewing team that you possess the skill-set, attitude, work ethic and temperament that fits the company culture.  The judges will decide if you're the right fit.  Yet, in the end, your preparation, skills and attitude make you the true winner.

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