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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

2. Command Attention

I was impressed by the fact that during their practice sessions, role-playing began before participants had even stepped into the office. Since the actual job interview begins as soon as you knock on the door, the job candidates rehearsed how they would stand, walk, and make eye contact to everyone in the room. You see, as officers these men and women know the importance of a commanding presence—body language that commands authority, confidence, and respect.

People make impressions about you in the first 90 seconds of your conversation. That’s not much time for conversation; it’s your body language that communicates competence. Confidence begins with a firm handshake and eye contact. Enter the room with a warm smile and maintain solid eye contact. During the conversation, feel free to break eye contact briefly but maintain eye contact for 80% to 90% of the conversation. It reflects confidence and control. Your body speaks volumes before you open your mouth; make sure it’s leaving a positive impression.

3. Dress the Part

Before I began the lecture, I overheard two officers discussing what they would wear during the job interview, including the color of their shirts. Again, this is something few job candidates put any thought into. Dress like the position for which you’re interviewing. Police captains are visible in the community and must pay attention to the impression they make when speaking to groups.

When deciding on what to wear, pay attention to your body type and your hair color and skin tone. Complement your body type with clothes that fit properly (hint: spend the extra cash to get your clothes expertly tailored). Also complement your skin tone and hair color. If you have gray hair, a gray shirt and a gray suit will make you look, well, gray. Add some color to stand out.

After spending time with the police officers, I left with an even greater appreciation for those men and women whose job it is to protect and to serve. They were professional, prepared, friendly, articulate, and smart—everything an employer would want! I learned as much from them as I hope they learned from me.