Developing Your Career

Practice Your Interviewing Skills Like an Olympian

By Helene Cavalli on August 1, 2012

There’s been much written lately on the concept of “deliberate practice” as a main factor in developing expertise. Many believe that deliberate practice of a skill – examining what’s being done right and wrong and then intensely practicing improvement – can often outweigh natural talent. How many athletes would make it to the Olympics without deliberate practice?

Take a tip from the champions and use deliberate practice to improve your interviewing skills. One of the best ways to improve your interview performance (while reducing anxiety) is to conduct rehearsal or practice interviews on video or webcams. This gives you the chance to get mistakes out of the way and corrected before they count. You’ll get the benefit of seeing yourself on camera, just like the interviewers will, and assess both your verbal answers and your non-verbal actions.

If you’re not comfortable getting in front of a webcam just yet, start by making an audio recording of a practice interview. This allows you to focus on just the content of your responses and your tone. Get this perfected and then move on to a video recording, when you can then focus on your visual style.

Ask a friend or coach to play the role of interviewer.  Then set up your webcam.  Provide your mock interviewer with information about the job and a series of questions you want to rehearse.  When complete, review the video with your friend or coach and ask for constructive feedback. Watch the video as if you were a prospective employer and note areas that need improvement. Were your responses concise? Did you effectively convey the value you’d bring to the organization? Did you appear enthusiastic and did the tone of your voice reflect confidence? When you’re done reviewing, practice again.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What do you consider your biggest weakness?
  • What accomplishment has given you the greatest satisfaction?
  • Tell me about a time when you faced a tough challenge.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to adapt to a difficult work situation.
  • What motivates you to put forth your greatest effort?
  • How do you determine and evaluate success?
  • What are two or three things most important to you in your work and why?

Once you’ve developed more confidence, have your interviewing partner throw you a few curveballs to see how you’ll think on your feet. Let deliberate practice help you develop interviewing skills that will create a gold-medal impression.

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