Question: I get really nervous when it comes time to interview. Do you know where I can find interview workshops or a place to practice interviewing?
Matt: A good place to start is with the Minnesota WorkForce Center system (www.mnwfc.org), many of which have free interviewing workshops on a regular basis. Call 1-888-GET-JOBS (1.888.438.5627) for the center nearest you. For example, the Dakota County WorkForce Center has a monthly Interviewing 101 workshop. In addition, the WorkForce Center Get Jobs Job Fair, held in March and September, has actual employers that conduct mock interviews or practice interviews with job seekers and critique their performance free of charge. If you are a dislocated worker working with a career counselor through the WorkForce Center, ask them to practice with you. They can also set it up so you can practice in front of a video camera and critique technique and body language.
There are also numerous job clubs and networking groups throughout the Twin Cities. A comprehensive list can be found at www.standrewlu.org
St. Paul-based WomenVenture (www.womenventure.org; 651-646-3808) has a couple of classes – Finding Work That Works and Career and Employment Transition Group for Women – which allow you to network with other job seekers and career-minded individuals. While these classes don't specifically focus on interviewing, they can be a great way to expand resources and contacts of people looking for the same type of help. It's also important to keep an eye out for local job fairs, and to check with places like the Star Tribune Jobs section to find out what career events are taking place.
If you can't make it to a workshop or job club and don't have a video camera to tape yourself, try having a friend record you through the video camera function on a cell phone. It will be short and choppy, and you will have to repeat it numerous times, but it is better than nothing. Look at body language and posture and listen to the tone of your voice. Based on your analysis of how you sound and look ask this question: Would you hire yourself - and why?
Interviewing is about confidence in your ability and skill set, and conveying that message to the hiring manager. Practice may not make you perfect, but it will boost your confidence and ability to talk strongly about what you would bring to an employer.
Matt Krumrie has written and specialized in career advice for 10 years. He lives and works in the Twin Cities. Matt answers readers' questions every week; e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.