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Job Hunting and Career Planning — Q&A with the Career Coach

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“Q&A with the Career Coach” is a series of articles featuring questions from readers and answers from 42-year Human Resources veteran and career coach Cliff Montgomery. Future questions can be submitted to him at his address below:

Q: I have an important interview coming up, and I’m a little nervous. Do you have any advice on how I can remain calm while preparing for and during it?

A: Practice is your primary answer, and the better you know the questions and your potential answers, the more confident you will be.

I provide my clients my “Executive Interview Guide,” as well as a list of the “64 Toughest Interview Questions” and answers which I’m told is very helpful in building confidence. This is because you will undoubtedly not be surprised by any question you get, and since you will have prepared your answers in advance, it will help you to remain calm and confident during the interview.

You should carefully review the company you’re interviewing with, as well as the background of the people who will be interviewing you. Having done this, you will find it calming to be able to engage in a bit of small talk about them and, therefore, relate better.

In advance of the interview, use the things that normally relax you, be it music, meditation or yoga. Make sure you get to your interview early; the last thing you need is to be stuck in traffic and rushing at the last minute.

Review carefully the reasons you are interested in this opportunity, as you will undoubtedly be asked this question. If possible, find out how people dress at the company and try to dress a little “up.” Lastly, use deep breathing as much as possible as it is very relaxing, and don’t forget to smile!

Q: I have only been with my current company for less than six months, and am now interviewing with a large company that I am very interested in. How do you suggest I answer the question, “Why do you want to leave your current company so soon?”

A: This is clearly a challenging situation and because of this, your interviewer will undoubtedly already assume that there must be something “wrong” at your current company. You are right to anticipate that this question will be asked in your interview, and the risk will be that you’ll respond with something negative about your current company or role. Don’t do this!

Your simple response to this question is that you have no plans to leave your current company, but this opportunity and their company are very interesting to you from a longer-term career perspective, and you wanted to hear more about it.

In this way, you will accomplish two things: First you will address the interviewer’s concerns about your early departure, and second, since you told them you are interested in this opportunity, they now understand that they will really need to recruit you for the job should the interview go well.

Send your questions to Clifford E. Montgomery, CPC, executive and career coach in New Hope. He can be reached at 908-209-1642 or at montgomeryce33@yahoo.com. His website is montgomerycareercoaching.com.


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