Now that you have done your resume, (You did it? Great. Someone out there is reading this.) the next step is to send out the resumes and cover letters and get a response. Then comes the dreaded interview. From experience, I can tell you that interviews can range from fun, casual talks to grueling interrogations. The most important thing for you is to be on your game and prepared. Take out a blank sheet of paper and turn it lengthwise, make 3 columns. The first is “Strengths” next is “Skills” next is “Work Experience”.
In the Strengths area write down all the positive qualities you possess. It will help to get one of those resume books that have a list of words to describe your character. Pick some out and write them down. Remember the good things that former employers had to say about you. It would help if you focus all your strengths on what your employment goal is. If you are looking for a job in human resources, mention strengths in team building and leadership. You get the idea.
In the Skills area, think about how you used your strengths in your work. A positive attitude is a strength that leads to a skill as a good sales person. Think hard about how you used strengths such as: Detail-oriented, hard-worker, etc. And remember strengths are innate (personal qualities) while skills are things that you have learned to do.
In the Work Experience area, think about how you applied your skills and strengths to your job. List each job separately and fill in each skill and strength that applied.
The finished chart might look like this:
(Strengths) Outgoing, positive attitude => (Skills) Increased sales in my division => (Work experience) Manager
Good with numbers, detail oriented => Improved accuracy in Excel database, faster turn around time => Payroll Clerk
With these little reminders, you will be more prepared for interview questions. So if Mr/s. Hiring Manager asks a standard interview question (What are your strengths?), you will have a little script ready. Just string all your information about your strengths/skills/experience together to form a sentence: “I am positive and out going. I have used that strength in my sales career to increase sales in my division when I worked as a manager at XYZ Corp.”
How about those other questions, you know the ones ment to trip you up? You have to think about these ahead of time. “What are your weaknesses?” Avoid the deal breaker answers. No mentioning memory lapses when you are trying out for a job as an event planner, etc. Just talk (briefly) about a little flaw you are working on. Mention the improvement you are making and keep it light. This is not psychoanalysis, no one expects you to be perfect… just keep it light.
There are some great books out there about interviewing. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to make sure you are trying to get a job that you will really love to do. This will make all the difference in your presentation and attitude.