Come Play the Job Interview Game!

April 07, 2005 (PRLEAP.COM) Education News
Toronto – In the increasingly cutthroat job market, what sets you apart from your nearest competitor? If you were in a room with 5 other people vying for the same job, what would you do to stand out in the crowd? If an interviewer asked you what your weaknesses are, what examples would you give?

Laura Wood, Senior Education Consultant at Globetrotters Education Consulting Inc., is a firm believer in the adage “practice makes perfect”.

“Gone are the days of being qualified and just getting the job.” With so many technically qualified candidates competing for the same position, recruiters are incorporating new interviewing techniques to examine “soft” skills to determine their successful candidate. Employees may be able to function competently, but can they keep the customers happy? Can they work effectively with others? Can they work without constant supervision?

Wood suggests that this trend in employer expectations has highlighted the need for job seekers to train effectively for interviews. “Job interviewing has really become a skill in today’s market. A marathon runner trains extensively with a proper coach before running in the big race; job seekers must consider the interview their ‘big race’ and prepare for it accordingly.”

The question is: how do you work on your soft skills?

Soft skills are more abstract than technical abilities and, therefore, more difficult to measure empirically. Defined as non-technical business abilities, they include communication, time management, leadership, negotiation, conflict management and listening skills which are evaluated based on behaviour-based example questions during a job interview. With employers placing more emphasis on these qualitative aptitudes, your examples of certain experiences and attributes could make or break your chances at be offered the position.

“Many people possess these soft skills but either do not recognize their importance during the job interview or have not prepared solid examples of how they demonstrated these skills in the workplace,” says Wood, who coaches individual job seekers on how to present themselves during an interview.

In the release of their new booklet, Steps to Success: Ace the Interview!, Wood’s company Globetrotters Education Consulting Inc. outline the necessary steps to interview preparation. With practical examples and lists of potential interview questions, Wood uses this booklet to supplement coaching sessions. “We send this our clients this booklet to prepare for the sessions before sit down and discuss interview goals with our client and then record mock interviews. They are always surprised at how they look on the tape, not realizing some of the key errors they make in their speech, examples and explanations.”

Before walking into any interview, Wood suggests that job seekers consider the following steps:

• Research, research, research! Always be up-to-date on your industry’s trends, news and personalities as well as the company’s background and place in the industry;
• Know the person(s) who will interview you, their title, how to spell and pronounce their name and their role in the company;
• Consider potential interview questions and write down some ideas and examples of how you would answer the questions;
• Go over your answers to ensure your examples discuss experiences where you have shown initiative, been pro-active and problem-solved. Use language and words that indicate power and confidence, no negative words or phrases, self-effacing language.
• Practice saying your answers out loud, feel the words, become comfortable saying them;
• Dress the part! Know the dress code at the company and be a little more formal than what is normal and expected. Dark colours suggest power and confidence;
• Confirm the date and time of your interview;
• Show up early, even if you sit across the street in the coffee shop;
• Remember to make appropriate eye contact, sit up straight (but not rigid) and smile;
• Listen carefully to the questions to make sure you are answering the right question;
• Keep answers short and to the point;
• Use humour with caution, you don’t know the interviewer well enough to know the limitations of their sense of humour;
• Write an effective thank you letter within 24 hours of your interview, outlining your interest, why you would be good for the position, appreciation for the interviewer’s time…remember to spell their name correctly!

For more information about interview coaching, appropriate practice techniques or to purchase a copy of the Steps to Success: Ace the Interview! booklet, contact Globetrotters Education Consulting Inc. at 416-565-4420.