Interviewing: Preparation and Practice are the keys



What two words describe what is necessary for a successful job interview? I would have to say, “Preparation” and “Practice.” I really can’t say enough about either of those two words when it comes to being ready for a job interview.

Let’s start with “Preparation.” When I interviewed for the Career Services Advisor position that I currently hold at Western, I had a portfolio ready to show that included extra copies of my resume, copies of college transcripts, letters of recommendation, and recent certificates of seminar completion that I thought would be of interest to those on the team that interviewed me. I also had notes to help me remember my strong points, written out on a 3X5 card and tucked into the portfolio’s inside pocket.

As soon as I found out I had landed an interview, I spent over an hour thinking through my strong points and comparing them to what Western Technical College was looking for in an employee. Then I had several days to think over what I had come up with and was able to add to my notes. I really feel going through that process with myself helped immensely.

On to “Practice.” You can practice talking about yourself, out loud. Either talk to your mirror at home, or talk to your dog or cat, but talk out loud about yourself and your strengths. Tell some of the stories that the author in the below article suggests you come up with. Tell the stories out loud.  Practice, Practice, Practice. I had key words jotted down on that 3X5 card to help me remember my stories. The below link will guide you to an excellent article that Barb, our Career Services Manager found on line. Just like us in Career Services here at Western, he/she does a lot of mock interviews with students. Not only will the author help you look at the big picture, he/she will tell you how to practice and he/she will give you tips on Skype or phone interviews.  More employers are using Skype and phone interviews in round one today than ever before. Enjoy!

PS:  The author talks about how the interview starts in the parking lot….he/she is not kidding!  They really do!  I have heard this from more than one professional.

PPS: I also noticed he/she suggests using a video program to video tape yourself answering questions!  Go to our website at: and try out “Perfect Interview,” our online interview practicing tool!


Find Your Path – Time to Reflect – Why this Blog?



It has been a year now since I started “Find your Path.”  Time to reflect on what we have accomplished and what our goals are for the future.

Why did we start this blog in the first place?  Our original goal was to create a place where Western Technical College students could learn more about Career Services at Western and how to get the help you need to both decide on a career path and find employment once you have completed a college program.

Since then we have evolved. During the last year, when I was promoting our blog in classrooms, I have begun to share the fact that when we are working on a career goal (any of us) we are in fact training our minds to learn the “lingo” of the industry that we are immersing ourselves in.

Think about that for a moment.  As we learn, we discover things that the general population are not aware of.

I will never forget the summer that my son-in-law shared what it takes to produce soda pop.  He worked for a summer in a production facility where they mixed the product and packaged it. Since I am not involved in this daily as a part of my job, I am having trouble describing it, even for the purposes of this blog!  Yet he knew the terms, he could speak the language of soda pop producing….because he had worked it all summer.

So this blog has evolved. Our goal for the next year is to continue to help our students learn the “lingo” or language of their new career….so that they can demonstrate their knowledge in an interview and can then talk the talk once they start the job. This knowledge not only helps you find the words you need for your resume, it helps you sell yourself during the interview!

I tell our students, “Following this blog helps you weed through all the articles that you do not have time for. If you follow my blog, you will weekly get the best article or information for career and job seeking information…by the time you graduate from your college program, you will be knowledgeable about how to conduct your job search….just read an article for 5 minutes once per week…while you are attending here at Western Technical College and you will be ready by the time you graduate.”

And of course anyone else that is interested is WELCOME!

See Things From the Interviewers Perspective



I have been coaching people through the job interview for years, and yet I had a bit of an “Ah Ha” moment this last year when I was preparing to present in a classroom. I was watching a video where they compared the preparation for an interview to preparation for going on a hike. That senario really clicked with me.

Think about it. When you go on a hike, you wouldn’t think of starting out without good shoes, bug repellent, a back pack and a water bottle among other necessities. Why wouldn’t we prepare for an interview in the same way?

In preparation for the interview for the job I am currently in, I did the following:
Read the job description that I was given thoroughly
Thought about the skills they were looking for and how I could demonstrate that I had those skills, making notes for myself – always pretend that they have not thoroughly read your resume during the interview – you must mention your skills!
Wrote out how I wanted to answer the question, “Tell me about yourself”
Put extra resumes in my portfolio (which can be anything from a three ring binder to a folder)
Copied my transcripts and put a copy in the portfolio
Prepared a 3X5 card with all the key words I needed to remember my strengths, my weaknesses and how I have worked to over come my weaknesses, key words to help me remember 3-4 stories that I came up with that demonstrate the fact that I have acquired team work and problem solving skills and placed this 3X5 card in the pocket of my portfolio
Checked out my interview outfit – deciding to go with another one since the following day was going to be in the 90’s
Chose proper shoes and went over my appearance

On the morning of the interview then, I would skim through all of the notes I had made for myself, refreshing my memory in order to be fully prepared.

Being prepared is the most important thing you can do to improve your level of confidence!

Found another good article that you will want to take a glance at. Some tougher interview questions that even I have not seen. Always pays to be prepared for these types of questions. You want to be able to answer them to the best of your ability. Click on the below link.