Ask Matt: How can I improve my interviewing skills?

  • Article by: MATT KRUMRIE
  • Updated: July 8, 2013 - 10:37 AM

Dear Matt: I struggle at interviewing. Do you have some tips on how I can better prepare for the interview and overcome the jitters?

Matt says: If you want to do well in a job interview or not feel jittery, preparation is key. Researching the company is not enough. Instead, learn about the position you are interviewing for and be able to show how your skills and experience meet the employer’s needs. Read the job description and be ready to show concrete examples of success in the workplace that proves you have achieved what they need.

By doing this you’ll know what points to make when answering questions, says Paul Sears, an Employment Specialist with the Minneapolis WorkForce Center. “Bring talking points on a notepad if you like, but don’t memorize a script,” he said. “You won’t sound authentic. Make this a natural conversation instead.”

Don’t dominate the conversation or talk too fast, or too long. And remember, the interviewer is not interrogating you — they are just trying to get to know you. If you are in the interview stage, they see you as someone who has skills and experience they feel would make you a good fit for the job. Now, at the interview stage, they want to see how you would fit with the team and culture and if you have the experience you say you do on your application, résumé and cover letter.

“Interviewing is not about being perfect or a superstar,” says Sears. “A successful job interview happens when you decide this should be an enjoyable encounter with a colleague in your field, someone who needs what you offer and can benefit from even the experience of hearing your ideas. If you set out to enjoy these get-togethers which we call job interviews, instead of trying too hard, you’ll actually do far better.”

So many people worry about answering the tough or oddball question they focus on that aspect. When that question comes up, take your time, relax and answer honestly; be yourself. They will appreciate that more than if you just say something to appease the questioner.

You can learn interview tips and strategies like these through the many different interview, mock interview and job search classes through the Minnesota WorkForce Center at www.PositivelyMinnesota.com/WFCworkshops. Find a class that fits your needs and show up dressed in a suit and take it seriously, just like you would a real interview. The WorkForce Center staff is prepared to put you through a wide variety of situations all geared toward helping you overcome interview jitters and gaining confidence to succeed.

“These scenarios allow you to get feedback on not only your answers to questions, but also on your interviewing non-verbals, such as tone of voice, energy level, posture, appearance, gestures and mannerisms,” says Sears. “Accept these critiques not as criticism, but as opportunities to improve.”

ASK MATT: jobslink@startribune.com

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