Practice talking about yourself!

Interviews are smoother when you take the time to practice.

In teaching a workshop recently, I was asked the question, “When you were a teenager, was interviewing easy for you?” My simple response was, “No and interviews are not easy now either!” The point is, through the nature of what interviews are, they are hard work for any of us, at any age, but practice can make them less overwhelming.

Whether you are interviewing for a volunteer position, scholarship, job or college entrance, it can feel like a stressful situation. Lots can be going on in your head. You want to set your best foot forward and make a good impression. You want to share your best qualities without bragging. The best way to overcome these feelings is to practice. It is no different than playing the violin or shooting a basketball. The more times you try, experience, and practice that activity, the easier it becomes. It might never be “easy” but it certainly feels smoother.

There are lots of great resources on the Michigan State University Extension 4-H Careers webpage to help you prepare for your interview. Practice a good business handshake with your friends, family and neighbors. Review the handout on Winning Job Interviews. Most importantly, engage in mock interviews with others. Using the sample interview questions, practice both sides to the interview process. Interview someone else and have them interview you. Do this many times! It will help you to see what questions are harder for you to answer so you can think more on how you would respond if asked that question during a real interview. Have parents, neighbors, teachers and family friends interview you, as well, so you experience a variety of interview styles. The more you practice, the less uncomfortable you will feel.

Some people like to write down some responses to the sample interview questions before they go into an interview. Just remember, you won’t be reading from a sheet during the interview or be asked those specific questions in every interview but organizing your thoughts, in advance, can help you make sure you hit the key points you want to address and have an idea of how you might respond.

You can also practice interviews by going on interviews! This might seem backwards but, the more interviews you go on, even if not for your dream job, the better prepared you will be for when your dream job interview opportunity does come along. So, if a chance comes along to be interviewed, for an award or admittance into an honor society for instance, take it! View it as a chance to learn and get better at interview situations.

Practicing interviews will give you a clear advantage when it comes time to market yourself to an interviewer or interview panel (more than one interviewer). Take the time to practice today – and the benefits will abound in your interview tomorrow!

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