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Rehearse Before a Job Interview

You have spent hours on your resume and have progressed through two phone interviews. It’s imperative that you make a great impression at your physical interview. This is the interview that will or won’t get you the job.

We have all watched a bad Oscar acceptance speech where the recipient of the award blunders around thanking people in a dazed jumble of words. Haven’t you ever wondered how this happens? These people have been selected above hundreds of others and they knew they were nominated, so how could they be so positively horrible at giving their acceptance speech? They didn’t rehearse, that’s how. Don’t make the same mistake. This is a job and your future, not just some silly golden statue. Let's get started...

Consider your mirror your new best friend. Even before getting your first civilian interview you need to start rehearsing. Look in the mirror. Do you need a haircut or would it look better if you let your hair grow a little to hide your ears? Do you need new glasses or new interview clothes? Do you hold one shoulder higher than the other or cock you head to one side when you speak? Record your voice, too. Is it too high or too low? Do you repeat common speech problems such as “um” or “like” when you speak?

Practice your entire resume saying all the words out loud. You will have translated many military titles and jargon into civilian words. You need to memorize these new phrases until you no longer need to think about them. This is just like learning to load a gun. It needs to become second nature so that when you are under pressure, you can talk about what is on your resume using civilian language freely and spontaneously.

Next, enlist the help of some friends to play the interviewer. Start with a good friend who makes you feel comfortable. Then work with another friend that you know is critical, sarcastic and , if possible, find someone you don’t like very well. Each person will bring out emotions in you. Watch how you respond to your emotions when answering pointed questions. This will help you when you get into the real interview situation. Anger and fear are pretty closely related, and you are likely to have the former towards your critical friend and the latter in your interview. Next find a Starbucks and ask the most attractive member of the opposite sex in the place if they will spend five minutes helping you rehearse for your interview. Look the person in the eye when you speak. Speak clearly and slowly and pause before you answer questions. Smile. Repeat this process until you can do it without letting nerves get the upper hand.

Sit back down with your first friend and figure out your weakest link. Is it some part of your education? Is it some technical drawback? Once you know what it is, design a good answer so you are prepared for the dreaded interview question, “What is your greatest weakness?” Also prepare answers to other questions such as “What has been your biggest challenge?” and “Explain how you have overcome adversity.”

Take a critical look at your family life. Are you just divorced with two kids? Make sure you do not let your guard down in your interview no matter how chummy the interviewer appears. They are looking for information. It's a bit like an interrogation. In civilian life, employers are restricted from inquiring about your personal life but if you offer up this information they can use it against you in making their final decision. If they don’t follow the law and ask you directly about your personal life, come up with one or two standard vague answers that go nowhere.

Lastly, be yourself. Rehearsing your resume and interview may seem artificial but really you are just putting forward the best version of you.

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