Monday, May 11, 2009

More Advice for Job Seekers

Communications coach Bill McGowan recently offered some excellent advice for handling job interviews. Some of it will be familiar; some will present a familiar idea from a different angle; some of it will be new. All of it is worth heeding. Link here.

1. Maintain eye contact; offer a firm handshake. When we are discussing an uncomfortable subject-- Why did you leave your last job?-- McGowan notes that we tend to fidget and to look away from the interviewer. We disengage and disconnect.

On the Today show he showed how a man who had had a career in the military was especially good at these skills. A positive attitude toward the military ethos will serve you well on a job interview.

To overcome tendencies to disconnect, you should train for the interview by rehearsing answers to difficult or painful questions with another person, to the point of going over it again and again until you can do it on auto-pilot.

2. As you begin an interview you are likely to feel anxious. You will speak more quickly, include more annoying conversational filler, and make more mistakes. So McGowan suggests that when you begin an interview you should consciously slow down the cadence of your speech.

He adds that you should not be afraid to pause and collect your thoughts. Allowing a few moments of silence is better than filling your conversation with: like, um, and you know.

3. Confidence sells. You show confidence by having facts and figures available that show how and what you have contributed in the past.

Importantly, McGowan adds: "You are not going in asking them to do you a favor by hiring you."

The opposite of confidence is neediness and desperation. If you sound like you are begging, the interviewer will think that no one wants you. If so, why should he?

4. Next, McGowan advises you to be specific. If you are asked to describe yourself, you should not offer a list of positive attributes, but should be able to tell stories that show you tackling specific problems successfully.

5. Be prepared to answer typical interview questions like: What is your biggest weakness? What was your biggest mistake.

Have a story ready that shows a real mistake or weakness and explain what you learned from it or how you corrected it in future projects.

Also, McGowan emphasizes that you should be well prepared to ask some questions about the company you are interviewing.

6. Finally, show them that you are confident and self-assured. Excessive modesty and humility have no place in a job interview.

You do not show confidence by bragging, talking only about yourself, or making it appear that you were the best thing that ever happened to the company you left.

Confidence is allowing your achievements to speak for themselves. It also lies in giving credit to your staff or team.

To say that you were honored to lead such an effective group is better than to assert how great a leader you are.

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