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Preparing for a Tough Job Interview

Preparing for a Tough Job Interview

To ace your next one, try some of the same preparation techniques used by police officers competing for highly competitive promotions

Carmine Gallo | Business Week

I recently gave a communications lecture to a group of big city police officers. Most of the men and women were lieutenants preparing for the most important job interview of their careers—promotion to captain. The selection process is intense. These officers only get the opportunity to apply once every four years, and only a few will make it. Some are nearing retirement, so for them it could be the last chance to attain the rank of captain and all that goes with it: increased responsibility, higher visibility, more pay, and a far better pension for the rest of their lives.

Holding the rank of captain in a police department means communicating with various audiences: staff, commanders, media, elected officials, and community groups. So it makes sense that far greater weight is given to the oral section of the exam than in tests for previous positions. What’s fascinating is that how these job candidates perform on the oral exam will account for more than 50% of the grade.

Here are three techniques officers I met used to prepare for their grueling interview process. They could help you ace your next job interview:

1. Role-Play

Some of the officers I spoke to meet every week to study and conduct mock interviews with each other. They ask the toughest questions possible and critique each other on their answers. And get this—they even bring video cameras to the exercise so they can review their performances.

Most job candidates fail to prepare adequately. Preparation means more than simply reviewing possible questions in your head. It means sitting across from someone playing the role of the questioner. It means rehearsing answers to every potential question (or category of questions). It means placing a small video camera on a tripod and recording your interview. Put yourself through a mock interview scenario to succeed during the real deal.