See the interview as a friendly forum
View it as a conversation which centers around you; an opportunity to promote yourself.
Get over the “humble” complex
If you are self-conscious about promoting yourself, preface any responses to questions/probes regarding your skills, strengths, contributions, achievements, etc., with the statement, “I feel somewhat awkward self-promoting here, however, I understand that is the focus of an interview, so….,” and then provide a solid, truthful, and positive response. This is one of the very few times in your life when you will be provided a license to boast of your skills and accomplishments. Do so with confidence and grace, but do so. The interviewer wants you to provide this information. You are selling here.
Know the agenda
Familiarize yourself with the structure of an interview (review fully the information contained in Chapter III)
Complete the personal inventory exercise contained in Chapter V. Be prepared to respond to the most dreaded request in all of interview-land: “We have about 30 minutes together today, please take as much time as is necessary and tell me about yourself.” Sometimes this will be the intentional focus of a stress interview format; sometimes it is the product of an inexperienced recruiter who is hopeful that you will carry the bulk of the interview; many times it is the most obvious starting point introduced by an experienced interviewer for the purpose of guiding you to significant points in your life. Regardless of its origin, this statement provides you with a tremendous opportunity to sell yourself to an individual who may have the power to make your life significantly more satisfying than it is currently. And, yet, more times than not, individuals presented with this window do not say enough about themselves to fill 3 minutes. This is unfortunate. After all, who knows you any better than you do. And after 20+ years of living, surely you have 20+ minutes of credible information to convey about yourself.
Research the firm
Prior to interviewing with a representative from any employing organization it is essential that you research that firm. A number of ways exist in which to gather information about a prospective employer (see Chapter I). Regardless of which channel you select, it is imperative to your success in the interview that you have a solid idea of what the interviewing company is all about: their products/services, structure, size, history, philosophy, reputation, etc.
Do your homework
After researching the firm with which you will be interviewing, refer back to the personal inventory exercise you completed earlier and begin to match your interests, goals, and skills with the expectations of the organization. Begin to formulate in your mind questions that may be asked of you. Develop responses that will be in concert with your focus and the firm’s. Prepare several unique and insightful questions to ask the interviewer.
Once you have completed your research and analysis of the firm and you feel comfortable with the information surrounding your personal inventory and you have formulated some interesting questions to ask the interviewer, refer to Chapter III in developing a practice agenda. At that point, ask a friend or family member to function as an interviewer in a role-play situation – then practice, practice, practice. If you practice the interview process adequately you will find that, even in the most stressful of interviews, your comfort level and ability to effectively respond will remain at a high plane. You certainly would not step in front of a group of several hundred professionals to make a 30 minute presentation (we hope) without having prepared well and practiced the delivery. The same applies to an interview.