Preparing for an Interview in Just One Hour

If you're the typical job seeker, you'll procrastinate and wait until the last possible moment to prepare for your interview.  I can't blame you; preparing for an interview is not something we look forward to.  You're getting judged.  And you wish you can cut through the BS and just say, "Why do I need the job?  Well, I need to pay the bills, don't I?"

So we posed the last minute prep challenge to a top career coach, Andrea Kay.  Andrea Kay has been dispensing career wisdom for the last 25 years.  She has a widely syndicated newspaper column called "At Work" and a weekly radio show on WGRR Radio called "Workin' for a Livin."  She's published several bestselling books, including her latest This is How to Get Your Next Job: An Inside Look at What Employers Really Want.

Here's what Kay would do if she only had an hour to prepare for an interview:

  • Prepare a response for “Tell me about yourself.” It should include an overview of your background.  As you tell your story, keep in mind the characteristics and personal traits you want to communicate to the audience.

  • Inventory your top six strengths.  

  • Write down a work example that highlights each strength.  Use the examples to answer interview questions such as:

    • “What are you most proud of?”

    • “What do you care about?”

    • “What’s your biggest accomplishment?”

  • Learn about the company, products, and services.

  • Understand the job requirementsWhat are the responsibilities and expectations?  Create examples that back up each skill or expectation they’re looking for.

  • Spend 10 minutes to rehearse your responses.

Kay mentions that the biggest interviewing myth: candidates trying to figure out what interviewers want to hear and the perfect thing to say.  Kay says it's a mistake.  It'll come across stiff and generic.  The objective of the interview is to have a conversation, to learn, and to explore.

At the end of the day, Kay says it's about human behavior.  One of the best things to do, as a job candidate, is to know the mindset of the employer.  What are they looking for?  Is it skills, or is it attitude?  Character or cultural fit?

And to make it easier for the candidate, it really starts with the individual.  Candidates should ask themselves:

  • What matters to me?
  • Who do I want to work with?
  • Do I want to use particular skills?
  • Do I want to sell a particular product?
  • Do I want to learn a specific area of knowledge?

Kay says that once candidates get in touch with who they are, they'll have an easier time passing the interview and getting their dream job.

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