Friday, January 26, 2007

Competitive Interview Preperation Guid

"Any fact facing us is not as important as our attitude toward it,
for that determines our success or failure."

- Norman Vincent Peale -

You finally have an interview! Your moment of truth has arrived. Whether your interview is on campus or off, it is important to make the most of it. Because to be successful, you should always seek to retain control of the process, and the only way to do this is to have control over the final decision. You can always walk away from a company that you later decide you have no interest in, but you need to remain in positive control to retain the power to pick and choose. Your objective in every interview should be to take yourself one step further toward generating the job offer. You can do that by doing your very best in each and every interview. Treat every interview as if it were the only one you will ever get with that company and your only opportunity to convince them that you are the right candidate for the position. Although there may be several interviews before the eventual offer, you must score positively in each interview.

Successful interviewing begins with preparation. Read the following sections to be fully prepared before your first interview. And reread the information for additional pointers as your interviewing approach matures over time.

  • The Most Important Aspect of Interviewing
  • The One Thing You Must Do Before Your First Interview
  • The Insider Interview Prep Technique
  • Insider Company Information
  • Dress for Interview Success
  • All Eyes Are On You
  • The Most Important Interview Nonverbals
  • The Whites of Their Eyes Technique
  • The Nose on Their Face Technique
  • Winning the Body Language Game
  • The Nonverbal Interview Technique
  • Being Sincerely Honest
  • The Show and Tell Technique
  • The Sneak Preview Technique
  • The Proof Positive Technique
  • Raspberry Fudge Swirl in a Plain Vanilla World
  • The Interview Psych Technique
  • Whom Would You Believe?
  • The Pygmalion Technique
  • The Visualization Technique

The Most Important Aspect Of Interviewing

The key element to successful interviewing is not your experience, your grades, what classes you took, your extracurricular activities, or any of the other basic necessities. Those skills are what got you the interview. The key element to successful interviewing can be summed up in one word: attitude. If you want to rise above others with better experience, better grades, or better anything, you will need to work on developing a highly positive work attitude.

Your attitude determines whether you will "make the cut" or be discarded. Remember, there are plenty of competitors with the ability to do almost any given job-- especially at the entry level. The way most employers differentiate at the entry level is by candidates' attitudes toward the job. Your attitude is often what recruiters will remember when the dust has settled after reviewing ten, twenty, or even one hundred candidates--the one who was sincerely willing to put forth their very best effort. If you have the attitude of wanting to do your very best for the company, of being focused on the company's needs, of putting yourself forth as the person who will be committed and dedicated to fulfilling their needs, you will likely be the one chosen.

Why is attitude so important? Because most companies already have their full share of multi-talented superstars who care about no one but themselves. Ask any manager who the most valuable member of his team is, and he will point not to the overrated superstar, but to the person who has the "can do" attitude, the person who can be counted on in any situation, the person who truly strives for excellence. Give me a team player who is achieving at 99% and I will take her over a flashy superstar who is running at 50% efficiency any day of the week. And so will 99% of all hiring managers.

So don't worry if you are not "superstar" quality. If you can show me, in your words and actions, that you are ready to put forth your very best effort toward achieving excellence, you will be chosen over the superstar.

You can show your winning attitude in the way you present yourself. Incorporate the actual words "positive attitude," "excellence," and "striving to be my best" into your interview language. Then show by your stories and examples how these words positively affect your life. Show me when and where and how you have put forth extra effort above and beyond the call of duty. Show me how you beat a deadline, how you excelled in a project, or how you made a difference by going the extra mile.

If you can show me, by words and examples, your "can do" attitude, it is you I will hire, while all of the superstars will receive polite rejection letters to add to their growing collections.

The One Thing You Must Do Before Your First Interview

Practice. Before you go through an actual interview, you should first go through a mock interview. Nearly every college campus offers access to a career counselor who can take you through a mock interview (also known as "interview coaching"). Sadly, fewer than 5% of all graduating students take advantage of mock interviews. And fully 95% end up stumbling through several interviews before they have any practical sense of how they are doing--because that is when the rejection letters start arriving. And those rejection letters offer you nothing in the way of constructive criticism toward future improvement other than point out to you in the starkest terms that you failed your interview.

The mock interview is more than just a chance to work out your interview jitters. It is an opportunity to practice your interviewing technique and answers live. It is also a chance to hear constructive feedback from someone who can guide you toward improving your interviewing style and presentation.

Just one mock interview will result in a marked improvement in your interviewing skills. Why? For the same reason that a speech is not a speech while it is still on paper or just floating around in your head. It is not a speech until you give it verbally. The first time you give it in front of an audience (remember your first speech in Speech 101?), it will come out nothing like what you prepared. It is the same with interviewing. It is not enough to look at an interview question and say, "Yeah, I know the answer to that one." You need to practice your answer. Live. In front of someone else. This is not the time to talk to yourself in the mirror. Seek out a professional and practice. Ideally, have the session videotaped. That way, you will have two opinions--the mock interviewer's and your own. Remember that there is a totally different perspective in listening to yourself saying something contemporaneously versus the "out of body experience" of watching yourself later on videotape. Just as your voice always sounds different on tape, so do your answers. "Did I really say that?" Yes, you did. Aren't you glad the image is captured on tape (which can later be erased), rather than in a potential employer's mind's eye? Yes, you are.

Go through at least one mock interview. For maximum effectiveness, review your answers and then go through a second mock interview. Even if you ace the second mock interview, it will be well worth it since it will give you confidence in your first real interview.

The Insider Interview Prep Technique

he very best thing you can do to prepare for an interview with a specific company is to interview someone who is already on the inside. There are two basic methods of finding this person. The first is to use your network. If the interview was the result of a network contact, call them to thank them for helping you set up the interview, then proceed to ask for further information about the company. If you don't have anyone on your first level who works at the company, ask those first level contacts if they know anyone who is working there. The second alternative is to seek out an alum. Check with either (or both) the Career Center or the Alumni Office to find out if any former grads are working at the company. The ideal is an individual who went straight out of your college into the company--the more recent, the better.

If and when you have located this contact, call as far in advance of the interview as possible. Make sure you have done your homework so your contact doesn't have to give you all the laborious details you should already know. Ask about the person (or persons) you will be interviewing with. Personality? Likes? Dislikes? Any hot buttons (good or bad)? Next, ask them about the company. What are the primary issues of focus within the company? Profitability? Quality control and improvement? Global markets? Finally, ask about the interview process. What are the basic steps in the process?

Note that the range of questions you can ask this person is far greater than what you can ask in the course of the interview. And it will give you insider information that can make you a standout in the interview.

Insider Company Information

Take special note of the information that can be gained from the corporate annual report. Any candidate who has read the "President's Letter To The Shareholders" will be light years ahead of the competition. You will not only have a summary of the company's operations for the past year and plans for the year ahead, but you will also have access to all of the current lingo and buzzwords that are in play within the corporate corridors. Some companies will even have yearly "themes." Know what these are and you will score an instant hit with your interviewer. You will be viewed as a true insider for having access to (and using) information that less than 1 percent of the business market is reading--and far less than 1 percent of the entry level job market.

Dress For Interview Success

While the college campus may be the perfect forum in which to exhibit your flair for the latest in fashion style, the interview is not the place to do so. With very few unusual exceptions (my apologies to Apple Computer), sandals and sweatshirts are out. Oxfords and business suits are still in. I don't like a necktie (noose?) any better than the next person, but it is still a fact of life in interviewing. Even though many companies have relaxed the internal company dress code, interviews still follow the conservative standard. Don't buck the trend.

Unfortunately, most college grads are woefully underprepared with proper interview dress. They feel they can "get by" with what is already in their wardrobe. Usually not. Dress for the world outside college is quite different from the campus scene. Remember that stylish is not conservative. You should be doing the talking, not your clothes.

This is not to say that you need to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. Go for quality over quantity. One or two well-chosen business suits will serve you all the way to the first day on the job and beyond. Then, when you are making some money (and have a chance to see what the standard "uniform" is for the company), you can begin to round out your wardrobe. For now, no one will fault you for wearing the same sharp outfit each time you interview. If you desire some variety within a limited budget, you might consider varying your shirt/blouse/tie/accessories as a simple way to change your look without breaking your wallet.

For those of you who need a quick review of the basics, follow these guidelines for successful interview dress:

Men and Women

  • Conservative two-piece business suit (solid dark blue or grey is best)
  • Conservative long-sleeved shirt/blouse (white is best, pastel is next best)
  • Clean, polished conservative shoes
  • Well-groomed hairstyle
  • Clean, trimmed fingernails
  • Minimal cologne or perfume
  • Empty pockets--no bulges or tinkling coins
  • No gum, candy or cigarettes
  • Light briefcase or portfolio case
  • No visible body piercing (nose rings, eyebrow rings, etc.)


  • Necktie should be silk with a conservative pattern
  • Dark shoes (black lace-ups are best)
  • Dark socks (black is best)
  • Get a haircut; short hair always fares best in interviews
  • No beards (unless you are interviewing for a job as a lumberjack!)
  • Mustaches are a possible negative, but if you must, make sure it is neat and trimmed
  • No rings other than wedding ring or college ring
  • No earrings (if you normally wear one, take it out)


  • Always wear a suit with a jacket; no dresses
  • Shoes with conservative heels
  • Conservative hosiery at or near skin color (and no runs!)
  • No purses, small or large; carry a briefcase instead
  • If you wear nail polish (not required), use clear or a conservative color
  • Minimal use of makeup (it should not be too noticeable)
  • No more than one ring on each hand
  • One set of earrings only

If you are still unsure about the specifics, check out a copy of John Molloy's New Dress for Success or New Women's Dress for Success. While these books may seem to have a rather conservative slant, it is the norm in most of the professional marketplace. It is almost always better to be higher than the standard than lower.

If you are still not sure how to dress for the interview, call them and ask! That's right--call the employer. But this is one time when you do not want to call the Hiring Manager--instead, ask to be put through to Human Resources and say:

    "I have an interview with _____ in the _____ department for a position as an _____. Could you please tell me what would be appropriate dress for this interview?"

Sure, you run the risk of someone in HR thinking you are a social imbecile, but that's a lot better than having the Hiring Manager distracted by inappropriate interview dress.

While many work environments have shifted to business casual as the work standard, business suits are still the interview standard. When in doubt, it is almost always better to err on the side of conservatism.

One final note on interview dress: while it goes without saying that your interview clothes should be neat and clean, very few interviewees give the same time and attention to their shoes. Shoes? Yes, shoes. I am aware of at least one Corporate Recruiter who forms first impressions based solely (pardon the pun) on shoes. This person does not have a shoe fetish--he subjectively judges that those who pay attention to details like their shoes are also likely to be diligent in their work life. And it is not just that person's opinion. Many have said that you can judge a person by their shoes. You will find that many ex-military officers (many of whom have found their way into management positions in corporate America) are especially aware of a person's shoes. It is not enough to be clean, pressed, and ironed. Make sure your shoes are conservative, clean, and polished.

All Eyes are on You

Your choice of eyewear can also be considered a part of your interview dress. Glasses or contacts? For those of you who have this option available, consider it wisely. There are preconceived notions (as you are probably well aware) of what wearing glasses connotes. Specific potential positives include attention to detail, focus and intelligence. Potential negatives include awkwardness, shyness and lack of human interaction. While these stereotypical attributes are obviously just that--stereotypes--they are still extant in our society.

If you have the option of wearing contacts versus glasses, use the following as the guideline for which to wear:

  • Contacts - people positions - consulting, sales, advertising, customer service, etc.
  • Glasses - data/things positions - accounting, information systems, engineering, etc.

If you do choose to wear glasses, wear a pair with more conservative frames. While there is little you can do to change the preconceived stereotypes surrounding the wearing of glasses, you should be aware of the potential positives and negatives and adjust accordingly.

The Most Important Interview Nonverbals

Many interviews fail because of lack of proper communication. But communication is more than just what you say. Often it is the nonverbal communication that we are least aware of, yet speaks the loudest. Following are the top five nonverbals, ranked in order of importance, when it comes to interviewing:

  • Eye Contact - Unequaled in importance! If you look away while listening, it shows lack of interest and a short attention span. If you fail to maintain eye contact while speaking, at a minimum it shows lack of confidence in what you are saying and at worst may send the subtle message that you are lying. Do not just assume you have good eye contact. Ask. Watch. Then practice. Ask others if you ever lack proper eye contact. If they respond that they did notice, ask if it was during speaking or listening. Some people maintain excellent eye contact while listening, but lose eye contact when speaking. Or vice versa. Next, watch yourself on videotape. It does not necessarily have to be your mock interview; in fact, if you were videotaped informally (that is, you were not aware you were being taped), this will provide even stronger evidence. Then sit down with a friend and practice until you are comfortable maintaining sincere, continuous eye contact.
  • Facial Expressions - It continually amazes me how many college students are totally unaware of the sullen, confused, or even mildly hysterical expression plastered on their faces during the entire course of the interview! It is almost as if four years of college has left some students brain dead or worse. Some interviewers (not myself, of course) have been known to hang humorous labels on these students, such as "Ms. Bewildered" (who looked quizzical during the interview) or "Mr. Psycho-Ax-Murderer" (who looked wide-eyed and determined to do something, although you dare not ask what). Take a good, long, hard look at yourself in the mirror. Look at yourself as others would. Then modify your facial expressions--first eliminate any negative overall characteristics that might exist, then add a simple feature that nearly every interviewee forgets to include--a smile! Not some stupid Bart Simpson grin, but a true and genuine smile that tells me you are a happy person and delighted to be interviewing with our company today. You do not need to keep the smile plastered on for the full interview, but remember to keep coming back to it. Think about it--who would you rather spend thirty minutes with?
  • Posture - Posture sends out a signal of your confidence and power potential. Stand tall, walk tall, and most of all, sit tall. I don't say this to offend the "short people" of the world--in fact, I am under 5'5", which is a full seven inches shorter than your proverbial 6-foot IBMer. Height is not what's important, posture is. When standing, stand up straight. When you are seated, make sure you sit at the front edge of the chair, leaning slightly forward, moving within an overall range of no more than 10 back or 20 forward, intent on the subject at hand.
  • Gestures - Contrary to popular belief, gestures should be very limited during the interview. So please don't use artificial gestures to try to heighten the importance of the issue at hand (pardon the pun). It will merely come off as theatrical. When you do use gestures, make sure they are natural and meaningful.
  • Space - Recognize the boundaries of your personal space and that of others. If you are typical of most Americans, it ranges between 30 and 36 inches. Be prepared, however, not to back up or move away from someone who has a personal space that is smaller than your own. Hang in there, take a deep breath, and stand your ground. For most of us, merely the awareness of our personal space is enough to consciously prompt us to stand firm when speaking with someone. If you have a smaller than average personal space, make sure you keep your distance so that you do not intimidate someone who possesses a larger personal space. P.S. If you want to have fun at a social gathering, step inside the personal space boundary of a friend. With some practice, you can back them up around the entire room without them even being aware of what is happening. But beware. It can also happen to you.

The Whites of Their Eyes Technique

Eye contact is an area of importance that many give lip service to, yet fail to implement in actual practice. If you have difficulty maintaining eye contact, try this simple technique to lock in a strong first impression. Concentrate on noticing (and remembering) the color of the person's eyes as you shake hands. In doing so, you will not only show excellent initial eye contact, you will also create interest in your eyes, which will be clear and focused.

The Nose on Their Face Technique

Another technique for maintaining eye contact. If you have difficulty maintaining eye contact due to discomfort at looking someone directly in the eyes, use this technique instead. Simply start at them directly in the nose. You will not have the discomfort of direct eye contact, yet the person you are speaking with will perceive that you are making eye contact (even though you are busily sizing up their nasal openings). Just make sure you don't become so preoccupied with nasal starting that you end up being distracted from the interview.

Winning The Body Language Game

Everyone uses body language during the interview (whether they realize it or not), but very few think about in advance and modify their body language to produce the most positive effect. Body language is merely the smaller, less prominent nonverbal cues that we give others while communicating. Following are some typical interpretations of body language cues:

  • Openness and Warmth: open-lipped smiling, open hands with palms visible, unbuttoning coat upon being seated.
  • Confidence: leaning forward in chair, chin up, putting tips of fingers of one hand against the tips of fingers of other hand in "praying" or "steepling" position, hands joined behind back when standing.
  • Nervousness: smoking, whistling, pinching skin, fidgeting, jiggling pocket contents, running tongue along front of teeth, clearing throat, hands touching the face or covering part of the face, pulling at skin or ear, running fingers through hair, wringing hands, biting on pens or other objects, twiddling thumbs, biting fingernails (action itself or evidence of), tongue clicking.
  • Untrustworthy/Defensive: frowning, squinting eyes, tight-lipped grin, arms crossed in front of chest, pulling away, chin down, touching nose or face, darting eyes, looking down when speaking, clenched hands, gestures with fist, pointing with fingers, chopping one hand into the open palm of the other, rubbing back of neck, clasping hands behind head while leaning back in the chair.

As you can see, there are far more negatives than positives--possibly more than we are consciously aware of. This list is given not so that you can artificially adopt the positive body language techniques, but more to help you recognize and avoid the negatives. If you have a habit of doing any of the above negatives, remove that action from your pattern of behavior before it sends the wrong signal. Concentrate on removing it now so you will not have to think about it during the interview.

And keep in mind the opposite side of the desk. As you talk with an interviewer, be aware of (although not preoccupied with) their body language and nonverbal cues. Do not try to read in more than is actually being communicated, but try to develop a sense of the interviewer's reception of you. The most obvious example is the smile connection--when your smile brings about a smile from the interviewer. Do your best to stay connected with your interviewer--both verbally and nonverbally.

The Nonverbal Interview Technique

Don't just give lip-service to the concepts listed previously--practice them! How? With a Nonverbal Interview. Unlike the mock interview, this one does not require a great amount of preparation--just an observant friend. Ask the friend to ask questions, but instead of focusing on your answers, ask him to make note of your nonverbals and body language and the messages being sent. Or play back your mock interview with the sound off. The results might surprise you.

Being Sincerely Honest

If you have a tendency to use phrases such as, "To be honest with you," "Just between you and me," "Well, I'll be completely honest about this," or other such qualifiers, eliminate them from your vocabulary. Think about it. A person who uses such a qualifier is implying by its usage that they typically are not being honest. If you are being honest all the time (which you should be), there is no need to use this kind of qualifier.

The Show and Tell Technique

If appropriate (the key words here being "if appropriate"), feel free to bring samples or copies of your work to the interview as concrete examples of your capabilities. Use reports, projects, photos, programs, or whatever it is that provides a tangible example of what you have done. It's one thing to say "I developed a report," and quite another to actually show the report you developed.

While the types of samples you use may vary, they can include any information developed either through capstone-level classes or work projects.

Following are a few examples that have been used successfully:

  • Programs and system design specs by an Information Systems major
  • Complex financial analysis done by a Finance major
  • Working product prototype developed by a Mechanical Engineering major

Be fully prepared not only to "show" but also "tell" about your sample. Be ready to answer any and all possible questions that might come up. This should not be a casual sample--it should be an example of your very best work. It will stand as the icon of what your capabilities are. If you are extremely proud of something you have done, show me--and tell me why.

If possible, you might want to consider using your show and tell samples as "leave-behinds" for the company to look at later. There is usually not enough time within the course of the interview to fully explore a good "show and tell" item. This also puts another "hook" into the company for necessary future contact.

Although using your sample as a "leave-behind" should only be done if the item is reproducible, you might want to consider leaving behind "sample only" items with an employer, if you are truly interested. Tell them: "I'll just pick it up when I'm here for my next interview" or (if this is your final interview) "I would be more than happy to pick it up on my start date." Presumptuous? Possibly. But it may also be your golden opportunity to close the sale!

The Sneak Preview Technique

A variation on the Show and Tell Technique is to provide the company with a sneak preview of what they can expect of you as an employee. While Show and Tell looks backward at material you have developed in the past, the Sneak Preview Technique focuses on the future. This technique works well when you have been given an indication (perhaps in a previous on-campus interview or phone interview) that there is a certain level of proficiency which the company is seeking. Take this as your cue to prepare for that question in advance.

An example of the use of this technique comes from a Multimedia Developer, who was asked in an initial interview if he knew a particular multimedia presentation software package. While he acknowledged that he did not at the time, he promised to research the package and provide a demo of his results at the next interview.

He found the presentation software to be very similar to one he had worked with extensively. After developing a full presentation based on company marketing materials, he presented the results in the office of his future manager. He noted that the presentation was put together in his spare time with little training. The company would, of course, receive a much higher level of performance upon hiring him full-time in the position. That sneak preview not only landed him a job offer, but also expanded the scope of initial responsibilities on the job (and his overall pay).

The Proof Positive Technique

Another variation of the Show and Tell Technique and Sneak Preview Technique will provide you with a way to fill a stated need, especially in a later or final interview. The need for a required proficiency may be requested in the form of a "Have you ever . . . " question. If the answer is no, you can still show proficiency by offering to provide them with the output or results in a short period of time. This is an ideal way to answer the unanswerable question. Ask the interviewer for time to solve the problem, then take it home, do your research, prepare your result and present your solution. Then ask for the job.

You cannot prepare for this in advance, as with the previous techniques. But it is an excellent way to respond to an interview question for which you have no previous experience to reference. Everyone says they are a fast learner. This technique is your way to prove it.

For example, a Computer Science major was asked if he had ever developed Web pages in HTML. He stated that he had not, but went on to say that he was a quick study and to prove the point, he would take the corporate flyer which he had been given, put it in HTML format and deliver the result via e-mail by 8:00 a.m. the following morning.

He went straight from the interview to the library, spent the better part of the evening reading and researching other Web sites and delivered the final product on time the following morning. Proof positive indeed!

Raspberry Fudge Swirl In A Plain Vanilla World

Even though you have probably already gone through this exercise in the self-evaluation phase of your career planning, it's important to go through it one more time: know how you measure up against your competition. And this time take very specific note of your competitive differences. Don't go along with the mistaken impression that you can sell based only on your own personal value--remember our discussion of product-driven marketing versus customer-driven marketing. Know what your specific advantage is for each specific employer. Be ready to articulate that advantage in very precise language.

Success in interviewing involves being fully prepared. But it's more than that--you must stand out in a world of "plain vanilla" job candidates. What particular strengths make you uncommon? What makes you unique? Be ready to differentiate yourself. Be ready to show your "competitive advantage." And be ready to load on the nut topping, whipped cream and cherry if they ask for it. You have to be ready to take on the competition. Remember, your competition is sitting there in the classrooms with you. You need to know and understand your greatest strengths in relation to them.

It is only by differentiating yourself that you can lick your competition.

The Interview Psych Technique

The night before the interview, spend some time with a friend or family member, telling them why you would be the best for the position. Use superlatives galore! The purpose is to put you in the right frame of mind for the interview, so that you truly believe you are the best possible candidate for the job. Why is this so vitally important? See the next item.

Whom Would You Believe?

Before you can possibly convince me as the interviewer that you are right for the job, you have to believe it yourself. It's amazing how many candidates seem tentative and reluctant to express confidence in their own abilities. Remember, you are all alone once the interview starts. No one will sell you if you don't sell yourself. How can I believe in you if you don't believe in you? I am not here to sell you on our company until after you sell me. Once you have sold me on you, I will sell you on the position and the company, but not until then. So don't expect the interviewer to tell you why you are right for the job. That is your job.

The Pygmalion Technique

So maybe you are the shy type who is uncomfortable talking about yourself in a positive way. There is still a way for you to prepare yourself mentally for the interview. Remember Pygmalion? No? In Greek mythology, Pygmalion sculpted a beautiful ivory statue of a woman that was given to the king of Cyprus. Pygmalion believed so strongly that the statue was real that it was eventually given life by the goddess Venus. Our TV/movie generation may know the story of Pygmalion and his statue through our modern stage/movie versions: Professor Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Eliza is transformed from a common flower peddler to an elegant lady through the power of continuous positive reinforcement on the part of Professor Higgins. If others tell you that you can do something, and tell you this long enough, you will eventually come to believe it yourself and live it in your life.

To see a simple example of the power of this technique in action, notice what happens to you when you smile for an extended period of time. Think of something (or someone) pleasant or amusing that makes you want to smile. Right now, as you are reading these words on this page. And hold that smile until you finish reading this technique. The end result will be that your body will react to the smile in a very positive way. You will eventually feel like smiling naturally without having to consciously think about it. And, interestingly enough, if others walk by while you have that silly grin on your face, they will probably begin smiling also. Keep on smiling!

We create images in our mind of how things should be. If these images are believed, they can eventually become self-fulfilling prophecies. If we change the image, we change the result. So if others tell you that you are the very best person for the job long enough and sincerely enough, you will eventually come to believe this and act upon it in a positive way.

No, this is not some useless psycho-babble--it really works. The key is to pick someone as your supporter who is very sensitive and willing to back you in your efforts. Significant others work great, assuming the relationship is supportive. Moms are also great for this role. Let your supporter in on the fact that you have an interview coming up, and tell them you need their help in pumping you up. Ask them to please lay it on thick, with the best praise they can muster for the occasion. This should be the last person you speak with the night before or even the day of the interview, if possible.

One final note. This is also a very effective child rearing technique for later in life. Tell your kids they are loved and wanted and they will believe you. Tell them they are wicked and worthless and they will also believe you. Make sure you do the former.

The Visualization Technique

The use of mental visualization can be extremely helpful in preparing for your interview. You can, by visualization, experience your coming interview, including a rehearsal of how you would react in specific situations.

Many great athletes prepare for competition through visualization. And many of the great feats of history have been accomplished first through visualization. Sir Edmund Hillary, the first person to scale the heights of Mount Everest, was asked by a young reporter how it felt to be the first man to touch the peak of Everest. Hillary replied that it felt exactly the same as each of the previous times. What the puzzled reporter failed to see is that Hillary had already successfully scaled Everest many times through visualization.

In preparing for the interview, go through the motions in your mind. Anticipate the questions which may be asked. Visualize yourself as confident and self-assured. Not cocky, just confident of who you are and the benefit you can provide the employer. Play the part over and over again until you feel you have truly lived it. Visualize your success until it becomes reality.