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Losing the Job Before Your Interview Begins

Dana's job search week started at 8:00 a.m. on Monday just like it had during the previous 12 weeks. Alone and fearful of the future, she questioned when the next interview would come. She'd invested weeks refining her résumé, spent 20 hours per week networking, and consistently spent another 10 hours a week searching job postings. She had no idea that she'd have a phone interview in 20 minutes.

At 8:20 a.m. her phone rang. It was Cheryl, a hiring manager from SCM Partners, the company Dana has been trying to get into for months. Cheryl was impressed with Dana's résumé and wanted to do a phone interview immediately. “Hi, Dana. My name is Cheryl Jones-Smith from SCM Partners. I'd like to spea k with you about the XYZ position that reports to me. I hope I called you at a good time,” stated Cheryl as she began the phone interview.

Dana's excitement and hopes soared. She was thrilled to get this call. Fear quickly set in as she realized she was totally unprepared and unskilled for this. Dana had spent months trying to get this opportunity and now it arrived. Anxiety overwhelmed her as the interview proceeded, and she realized she was unprepared for the most important moment of her job search, the interview.

Dana's story is like that of most people seeking work. They spend money and weeks (often months) getting their résumé prepared, searching job postings, applying online, networking and calling prospective companies. And just like most people, Dana underestimated the importance of preparing for the only event that can get her hired, the interview.

Most people do not prepare for job interviews because they actually believe the six "Lies we tell ourselves about job interviews."

"If you are unprepared when the phone rings, you've already lost the job before the interview begins."

Most job seekers wait until they have an interview scheduled to begin preparing. If you're not ready when they call for the interview, all you can do is "wing-it” and hope.

So what can you do to get ready before the company calls you for the interview?

Questions & Answers

List the questions you expect and the questions you fear. Write your response and practice responding out loud. Have a friend practice interviewing you by using the questions list you have prepared. Keep each response to 60-90 seconds. Ask a question after each response.

Your Talent Inventory

Create a list of your talents and skills called your “Talent Inventory.” Your skills come from work, volunteering, hobbies, school and life. Formulating your talent inventory prepares you for any question about your skills. Interview Mastery (both online and workbook versions) provides you with downloads and templates to create your talent inventory.

Your Questions

Make a list of 5+ business-focused questions you will ask interviewers. Bring this list to the interview along with a note pad.

- Michael Neece