How to Prepare for Job Interviews

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, April 2018

It is not unusual for me to coach clients who have been on 20, 30 and even 40+ job interviews without receiving a job offers. This signals that the job seeker is not adequately communicating his or her abilities to an employer. Sometimes body language or behavior sends an unintended, negative message. Common mistakes are:

* Long, rambling responses to questions. Generally, your answer to a question should be between three to five sentences long. Too many details, or irrelevant details, make it difficult for the interviewer to remember your key qualifications, and can make you appear to be disorganized. If the interviewer needs more information, he will ask.

* Very short answers to questions. Three and four word responses don’t communicate enough about your abilities. Do not assume that an interviewer “knows,” based on your previous work experience or education, why you are qualified for the job.

* Being unprepared. Arriving late, forgetting the name of the person you are meeting, and not having extra copies of your resume communicate that you are not prepared for the interview. If you don’t care enough to prepare for an interview, the employer will wonder, how much will you care about your work as an employee?

* Not showing enthusiasm. You may feel very enthusiastic about the job on the inside. However, if you do not show it on the outside, the interviewer will presume that you don’t want the job. Not smiling, speaking in a monotone, looking away from the interviewer, and not specifically stating your interest in the position will be read as indifference on your part.

Preparing responses to interview questions requires planning and practice. Some of my clients become annoyed that they need to plan their answers. Why, they wonder, can’t they simply show up and answer questions “honestly.” They do not understand the need to present relevant information about their backgrounds in a confident manner.

The most effective way that I have found to prepare for interviews is to create a list of anticipated questions, and focus first on the content of your answer (not the actual language you will use). You can search online for “typical interview questions for a JOB TITLE” to see common questions and suggestions on how to respond.

Whenever possible, give examples of results that you achieved rather than simply listing tasks you performed. Explaining how you modified a process to make it 20% more efficient conveys a lot more about your abilities than saying you reduced the number of steps from five to three. If you are entering the workforce, you can talk about projects and activities during your post-secondary schooling, internship experience, or volunteer work.

Develop bullet points of what you will say, rather than writing down full sentences. Memorizing answers word for word can make you sound over-rehearsed. Practicing with bullet points means that your answers will be a little different each time, making it easier to maintain a conversational tone.

It is imperative that you practice saying your answers out loud. This is very different than thinking about what you will say. You should rehearse until you feel comfortable, can make your points without a lot of pauses or “um’s,” and have committed the points to memory.

Making and audio or video recording of your practice session will reveal whether you are speaking clearly, and sending the right messages with your body language. Role playing with someone who is knowledgeable about the interview process is also helpful.

Set aside time each week to practice, so that you sound polished and professional. The more you practice, the more confident you will become.

Copyright 2018, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching