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Job Search 50: 12 Killer Ways To Prep For Your Interview

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The success of your job interview is contingent upon several factors: the impact of your first impression, your ability to handle yourself well and speak to your strengths, how well your skills and experience match with the general requirements of the position, your personality and your overall professionalism. This all-important conversation is your moment to shine, so get yourself psyched to win!

The overriding factor for how well you do lies in how well you prepare. Take a look at the following 12 keys to interview success and make certain to address each of them as you get ready your next interview.

  1. Review the posting in great detail so that you're well prepared to demonstrate how your experience fits with each of the requirements of the job.
  2. Research the company and find out (if possible) the hiring manager's needs so that you can speak to the specifics of the problems he or she is facing.
  3. Practice your answers to frequently asked interview questions in light of the position requirements. You'll need to present yourself as a "knowledgeable insider," so display your industry knowledge whenever you can. (You can turn to the Internet for a list of general interview questions and suggested answers. Enter "sample interview questions" into your search engine and you'll find several pages of listings.)
  4. Anticipate any objections regarding your qualifications and be able to speak to these as well as to your strengths.
  5. Be able to highlight your skills in each of the three skill areas:
    • Knowledge-based, technical skills: how will your educational background, training, and specific technical skills benefit the organization?
    • Personal traits and skill sets: how does your personal style, work ethic, ability to get along with others, etc. create added value?
    • Transferable skills: how will the skills you've learned in previous positions help you succeed and contribute to the goals of the new job?
  6. As much as possible, create a plan for how you'd solve problems and perform in the position. Referring to this during the interview will give you the aura of being a proactive candidate who knows his/her abilities and is well prepared to make a contribution.
  7. Memorize a minimum of ten impressive examples that show how you achieved results in your previous positions.
  8. Create additional examples that highlight the special strengths of being a candidate of maturity: how you've mentored younger employees, your proven ability to solve problems and handle crises, how your well-honed people skills turned around a difficult situation, etc.
  9. Prepare by doing a dry run. Drive by the company a couple of days ahead of time about the same time of day as your actual interview. That way you'll know the route and be able to anticipate the traffic patterns you're likely to face.
  10. Don't be shy to ask the person arranging your interview about the plans for the day. Will you be doing a series of interviews? Will there be a panel interview involved? How long should you anticipate being on site? The more you know, the better prepared you'll be. (Helpful hint: if they've scheduled you for a long day, bring a couple of high-energy snacks. You'll need the additional boost!)
  11. Although playing up your strengths may not come naturally to you, it's expected at an interview. This is not the time to be shy; you'll want to display confidence in your skills and abilities and be able to impart your value to the interviewer. So, if needed, get comfortable telling your "story" by doing a mock interview with a sympathetic friend.
  12. You might also opt to videotape your practice interview so that you can observe yourself and your nonverbal mannerisms. We can all be guilty of using quirky gestures under stress. Simply by knowing the camera is on will heighten the experience and make it somewhat akin to the actual interview. Later, as you observe yourself, you can take the appropriate steps to make certain you're coming across with poise and confidence. Like most everything in life, the more you practice, the better you'll become!

Mary Eileen Williams is a Nationally Board Certified Career Counselor with a Master's Degree in Career Development and twenty years' experience assisting midlife jobseekers to achieve satisfying careers. Her book, Land the Job You Love: 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50, is a step-by-step guide that shows you how you can turn your age into an advantage and brand yourself for success. Updated in February 2013, it's packed with even more critical information aimed at providing mature applicants with the tools they need to gain the edge over the competition and successfully navigate the modern job market. Visit her website at Feisty Side of Fifty.com and celebrate your sassy side!

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