Pitching Yourself: Interview Advice for Job Seekers
How you tell your story can make the critical difference in whether you pass a job interview with flying colors or blow it. For many people telling one’s story can be extraordinarily challenging.
How do you showcase your accomplishments without bragging? How do you present as someone both confidant and yet able to take direction? How do you show that you are both a take-charge leader and a team-player? How do you explain job failures, such as why you were let go from your last job? Or the fact that you are going back to work after a break of twenty years?
The old riddle “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” and the rejoinder “Practice, Practice, Practice” is most applicable. Practice does indeed make perfect.
Acknowledge first that in every loaded situation—a first date, a college interview, a job interview—a person is going to feel anxious. A lot is at stake. You are meeting a stranger. A lot is a function of chemistry and of expectations, on both sides. In the best of circumstances, it is difficult to strike the right balance between presenting your best features in a succinct fashion and sounding arrogant.
Next, do some homework. Research the position you are applying for. Use social media to learn more about the person you are meeting with. Make sure to beef up your own profiles on social media. Even if you do not go there, you can be sure the person you will be meeting with has already done his or her homework on you!
Now take a hard look at your resume. What questions would you ask someone with this resume, given what you have learned about the job? Jot these down.
Find yourself a good partner to practice interviewing with and practice several times. Think of questions you may want to ask the person interviewing you about the job and practice asking them. As you simulate interview conditions, ask your practice partner to focus on how you come across, specifically, your tone of voice, body language, confidence. Would he or she hire you? If yes, why, and if no, why not?
Finally, pick out a conservative outfit to wear to the interview, clothing appropriate to the job. If you have any doubts about the interview dress code, ask a colleague who works in the same company or industry. And now relax and have a good night’s sleep. With preparation you have the confidence it takes. The rest is in G-d’s hands—and for those who don’t believe, a matter of luck. The important part is you will know you have done your best.
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