I’ve been on both sides of the job interview. I’ve been interviewed and I have interviewed job applicants. After I graduated from college, interviewing was practically a full-time job.
At one point in my career, my boss asked me to evaluate incoming applications and field interviews. I was in charge of sifting through hundreds and hundreds of resumes (this is the reason why you must write a kick-ass resume and cover letter!). I learned quickly to eyeball standout resumes before moving them to a “must take a closer look” pile and call them for a job interview.
This week, I’m encouraging you to practice job interview questions with a friend for 52 Goals in 52 Weeks: Make 2016 Your Bitch. Because I believe with practice, you can kill in your next job interview.
Week 33 Challenge: Practice Answering Job Interview Questions with a Friend
Challenge Details: Together with a friend and your kick-ass resume, sit down in a quiet spot to conduct mock job interviews.
Your Deadline: August 22
Bonus points if you post a photo on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #2016IsMyBitch, of you and your friend getting your interview-on.
Step 1: Dress the Part
I’m going to be honest and say that wearing a two-piece suit is uncomfortable. Granted, you might not need to wear one for your job interview, but dressing smart always gives you a huge advantage. When my team was interviewing candidates, we always gave those wearing a sharp outfit a leg up over someone that didn’t dress that way.
Wearing your interview attire now can help with your comfort level, so when it comes time to bringing it out to the “real world” you’ll be owning it.
Ask your friend to be honest and give you her first impression of your job interview outfit. Does your HR-approved outfit fit properly? Do your dress pants look outdated? Does your blouse express your professionalism? Or is that tie distracting?
Use this feedback to create a go-to job interview outfit that is ready whenever you get that phone call for a job interview.
Step 2: Set the Stage
Create an environment that doesn’t feel like your home (or your friend’s for that matter). I immediate get nervous when I walk into a brand-spankin’ new office.
Maybe it’s the unfamiliar territory? Maybe it’s because I know I’m about to sit down with people I don’t necessarily know?
To help ease your stress, practice the job interview questions at a kitchen table sitting across from your friend. You could also meet at a coffee shop that you haven’t been to before or a restaurant that is unfamiliar to you. Answering job interview questions in new surroundings will help prep you for your future job interviews.
Step 3: Bring Your Game
Be a baller and equip your mock interview with all your badassery (i.e. resume, portfolio, letters of recommendation, etc.). Having everything at your fingertips could help augment interview answers, especially if you can show an example of your work.
Again, ask your friend for feedback on these materials. Are there any typos in your resume? Is your portfolio organized and professional? Or does it need to be refreshed and trimmed down to your best work?
These materials should support your argument that you are the best candidate for this job. Make sure that your portfolio does that and if it doesn’t, revise it immediately.
Step 4: Be Real and Be Honest
I wish I had a solid answer for you about answering the “why do you have gaps in your resume?” or “why did you change your career path?” type questions.
Frankly, I’ve always been on the side of not disclosing your affiliation with the military because that doesn’t affect your specific job qualifications (in my opinion), unless they straight up ask you.
I put together a handy dandy list of 10 job interviews questions. Practice crafting your answers and then hand your friend this list to conduct the mock job interview.
10 Questions You Should Practice Answering Before Your Next Job Interview
- What brings you here today?
- What are you looking for in a career?
- How do you work on a team?
- Explain your strengths and weaknesses. (Not my favorite, but it does get asked. A lot. Come up with 3 strengths and 1 weakness that you are ready to talk about in a job interview.)
- Can you explain your career path?
- Tell me about an accomplishment you are proud of and also a challenge you overcame.
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Think about your career as a whole.)
- What motivates you outside of the workplace?
- Why should we hire you?
- Do you have any questions for me? (Be ready to ask the interviewer at least 2 to 3 questions! It shows engagement and excitement.)
When you’re answering these job interview questions, keep in mind there might be some circumstances where the “because I’m a military spouse” answer could be your answer. But the majority of the time you don’t want to mention your martial status.
With that said, I want to stress that your volunteer experience and any other work you have done for your community DOES count, so put it in your resume!
Also, if an employer is going to judge you about being a military spouse, good riddance. Why would you want to work for a company like that anyway?
Step 5: Close Strong
Resist the temptation to go from mock job interview practice to chatting about current events with your friend. Practice as though it’s the real deal, including your final handshake at the end. Show your friend how you leave an interview with cool confidence.
Then come back inside and ask her for her feedback. Remember that the more you practice answering job interview questions the better you will get at it. So grab a friend, buy her lunch, give her the list of interview questions and start your mock job interview.