Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BOB LANKARD: Practice makes perfect

by on August 11, 2013 1:49 AM

An interview is doomed to failure for the unprepared job seeker. What can go wrong when you wing it in a job interview?

• You will be unable to answer a seemingly obvious question. I call it the “duh effect.”

• You will be more likely to become flustered than the prepared job seeker.

• You will leave out points that underscore your qualifications.

• You will be more likely to say dumb things, such as putting down a former employer. You might even discuss personal issues.

The best way to prepare for an interview is to shadow box, or do mock interviews with a friend.

These mock interviews are important because:

• You get used to answering questions. This is particularly true for a teen’s first interview, a dislocated homemaker entering the world of work and dislocated workers who have been out of the job market for a long time.

• Mock interviews reduce anxiety. Everyone experiences interview anxiety and for this reason alone I suggest mock interviews for everyone.

• It improves your interviewing skills. People just don’t come naturally to the skills necessary to be successful in a job interview.

• It gives you feedback about your interview technique. When we are nervous there are things we do that we don’t know we do. Job seekers have been shocked to learn they drummed their fingers during a mock interview or repeatedly used a particular word or phrase.

• It sharpens your communication skills. Poor communication skills are high on lists of reasons job applicants don’t get hired.

The most important quality for your mock interview partners is one who will give you honest feed back. One who will say, “You said ‘and-ah’ 10 times in this interview.”

The partner should be:

• Familiar with the interview process. It should be a must that your friend has participated in a number of job interviews. Having conducted interviews would be a big plus.

• Know good grammar. They don’t need to be an English teacher, but choose someone who knows a grammar mistake when they hear it.

• Think like an employer. This is an important quality. There are people out there with biases against business people. Their attitudes could set you up for failure in a job interview.


They need not be a professional counselor.

After a mock interview your friend should tell you:

• What questions gave you trouble

• Qualifications you missed emphasizing

• That you rambled

• That you were negative about past employers

• That you had distracting mannerisms


You should both research the company and job you are applying for. That way questions may be directed to this specific situation. Your friend should be familiar with your r←sum← and cover letter to ask better questions.

Bob Lankard, a retired employment specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Indiana Job Center, is a job-search columnist for the Indiana Gazette. Read his columns on Sundays.
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