When you’re in the career counseling business, there are three main reasons clients come knocking at your door.  They’re either looking for help identifying some new career options, tips on polishing up their resume, or advice on how to locate and land viable job leads.

Ironically, however, many professionals overlook the most important success factor of all that could potentially be holding them back from getting a great job — the failure to interview effectively!  During a decade of work in the career transition field, our experience has been that the vast majority of candidates out there significantly overestimate their effectiveness in the interviewing process.  While there are exceptions to every rule, of course, we have found that many candidates are not sufficiently prepared to sell themselves effectively in a competitive marketplace.

Given this observation, there’s one piece of advice we’re willing to dispense, free of charge.  Without question, the most important ingredient to mastering the interview process isn’t to read lots of books or script out responses to each and every question.  The number one way to improve your skills in this area is to practice.   Like playing golf or learning to ski, interviewing is a skill that is almost impossible to learn through sheer intellectual effort.  To go from good to great, you’ve got to figure out exactly what areas of the interview process you personally need to work on, then practice these skills multiple times until you become comfortable talking about yourself and your responses become fluid — especially around key questions such as “tell me about yourself” or “what’s your greatest weakness?”

While few people would disagree with this advice in theory, however, the problem is that many people don’t comprehend their lack of interviewing finesse until it’s too late and they’ve lost a highly desirable job opportunity.  That’s a high price to pay.  We therefore advise active job candidates to be proactive and find out whether their interviewing skills are up to snuff sooner, rather than later, by engaging in a mock interview with a friend or by hiring a professional coach to run through an interview simulation and provide constructive, objective feedback.  In most cases, this exercise will be a real eye-opener, and you’ll substantially improve your chances of “closing the deal” and getting the job you want!