Overcome Interview Nerves: Be Better Prepared Than Your Interviewer

By: Peter Fisher

Although interview preparation is everything it's sad to say that perhaps as many as half of all interviewers you're going to meet will be unprepared or incompetent. It's not all their fault, it's just lack of interview preparation time or responsibility; some of them will be co-opted at the last minute to meet you and won't have had time to prepare.

However there are those who just think they're great interviewers and fly by the seat of their pants!!

It's not all bad news though; you can turn this to your advantage. You can be better prepared than they are by following a few simple rules.

It may sound too simple but what they really want to know only falls into 4 key areas:

* Why are you here?

* What can you do for us?

* What sort of person are you?

* Can we afford you?

So you must prepare for this.

Let's examine each one.

Why are you here?

Because you are interested in the job, the company, the challenge, the chance to learn and develop new skills, and you are ready to move for such a great opportunity.

What can you do for us?

You bring all of your experience, your skills and achievements, as well as your desire to develop and contribute to a new team or department. (This is easy if you've already done your homework on your achievements and skills). You should have a number of skill stories to illustrate these specific points ready prepared.

What sort of person are you?

Someone who has initiative and gets on well with others and is flexible in attitude to different ways of working; maybe you are a great team player, or a strong leader or you describe yourself as loyal and conscientious. Try to avoid the "open-door" or "hands-on" type of response. Remember that 'compatability' is much more important than 'competence'.

Put that to the test if you like - who would you rather work with? Someone who can do everything, or someone you can get on with?

Can we afford you?

Salary negotiation is another issue altogether, but the point is you should have a feeling for what the remuneration is likely to be and show them that you bring value-for-money. If the salary is a lot more or a lot less than your recent earnings then you must be able to show convincing reasons why you are pursuing this job.

That's all fine as a general background but if you're going to overcome your interview nerves and be better prepared than your interviewer, you must be more specific.

Put yourself on the other side of the desk - if you were doing the interviewing, what would you really want to know that would convince you to make a job offer?

You'd want to know more about the 4 key areas above wouldn't you?

So all you have to do now is work out your questions to explore those 4 areas. Make it at least 25 questions long and don't avoid that question you don't want to be asked (you know the one don't you?) and then carefully work out your own answers.

Don't forget to include at least half a dozen personal attributes of the ideal candidate; why these are also your attributes and be prepared to explain why they should hire you as opposed to any of the other candidates.

One final thing on interview preparation and being better prepared than the interviewer. The "Tell me about Yourself" type of question is used by many interviewers to allow you to settle in and feel comfortable. An interviewer who hasn't prepared beforehand will tend to ask this question to buy time while she thinks of the next question.

It's then only human nature to ask questions relating to what has already been said (by you).

Your answer to the "Tell me about Yourself" question can therefore set the whole agenda for the interview.

Prepare this well and you're streets ahead. It should include a brief walk through your career history from the first job or when you left university; touch on each move you made with positive reasons for the move [I wanted to get some activity based costing experience...] and key in only relevant facts that show how you meet their needs. Allow only 3 minutes for this with most time spent on your most recent experience.

Now even if you do get the well-prepared, competent interviewer you will have done your interview preparation and you will be the well-prepared competent interviewee!!

However, don't get too complacent some organisations use structured interviews which are actually a boon to incompetent interviewers as they ask the same pre-determined questions to each candidate. No worries! the best preparation for structured interviews is to work on your skill stories. They usually tell you in advance what skills or competences they are interested in.

What else should you do? Well there all sorts of interviews so you can never do too much interview preparation it's the most certain way of feeling confident when you meet the interviewer, whether she's competent or not.

About the Author:

You can learn more about his dynamic and comprehensive approach to career change, with every page dedicated to helping serious career changers if you go to http://www.your-career-change.com/index.html

Check out these other articles in the Careers category:

8 Steps to Getting On-Track When You Start a New Job
Working From Home With Children
How Long Does It Take To Write A Resume?
Career Success: Take Charge of Your Career
Career Success: Get Ahead of the Crowd