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Keep Those Interview Skills Sharp! Stay In the Game Even When You’re Not Actively Interviewing

By Michelle Merritt @michellemerritt

Just like any skill you've ever mastered, strong interview skills take time to develop. First you learn the proper technique, then practice and practice until it becomes second nature. If interview skills are something you rarely practice, they are bound to get rusty. In today's fast-changing business world, it just makes sense to keep your skills honed and ready to to use, even if you aren't actively looking for a new job. Change can come quickly - whether it's you who makes that decision or outside forces - and those who are ready to bring their A Game, are the ones most likely to succeed. With well-honed interview skills, when the time for an interview does arrive, you'll be nothing but confident.

There are several ways to sharpen your interview skills (don't forget to assess your wardrobe and update your resume as part of this process, as well!):

The Mock Interview

In a mock interview you practice questions you'll likely be asked and assess your performance. This can be done with someone else's help or on your own. If possible, record or video the interview, so you can review how you did and identify areas to improve. Before you begin practicing:

  • read up on the latest news relevant to the the company or industry in which you'd like to work
  • identify the necessary traits required for the type of position you want in this industry - think about how to verbalize that your experience is relevant
  • think through how to describe yourself and your accomplishments with confidence (without sounding cocky)
  • ask a friend, family member, or colleague to be the interviewer - it may be most beneficial if they are managers with experience conducting interviews.
  • write common interview questions on notecards for the interviewer to use (or to ask yourself if you are practicing on your own)

Then what?

  • set up a room (or even a cleared-off table space) for the interview
  • dress just as you would for a real interview
  • introduce yourself and greet the interviewer with a strong handshake
  • smile and focus on speaking in a positive manner
  • pay attention to your body language (here's where a video is useful - try watching it with the sound off to see what "messages" you are sending)
  • take notes as you watch the video, listen to the recording, or ask the practice interviewer for feedback
  • practice again, shuffling the order of the questions each time, so you become comfortable answering them in any order
Other Skill-Honing Ideas

There are other ways to keep interview skills sharp. Anything that improves your comfort level with public speaking and presenting information to others will keep your confidence level up. Look for opportunities that require you to use these skills, such as:

  • joining non-profit boards
  • conducting HS senior interviews for your alma mater
  • reading to books to children at local schools
  • recording reading materials for the sight-impaired at the library
  • assisting with or reading at your church's services
  • attending Toastmasters International
Get a Coach

Just as a sports coach encourages and teaches how to improve your game, a professional career coach has the knowledge and experience to give you the most productive feedback. Learn more about Merrfeld Resumes and Coaching's Executive Interview Management service and how we can help you master interview skills and take your career to the next level.

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