Whether your goal is baseball, piano-playing, interviewing or conducting employee evaluations, the only way to begin to be comfortable, to develop and hone skills, and to find a path to excellence is to practice. Have lots of practice.
In Katie Yezzi’s NYTimes Job Market piece “At Work, Practice Puts Perfection in Reach,” she described how her boss urged her to practice before conducting employee evaluations, and showed how he practiced with her.
“Doug demonstrated some language I could use, and I rephrased it and tried it out, and then went over and over the main pieces of the conversation. When it was time for the review, I felt competent and calm, and was able to be entirely present and to listen,” she wrote.
A message for interviewers and interview candidates
Conducting employee evaluations is just one activity that benefits from practice. Yezzi notes, “In fields like music and sports, the best performers always keep practicing.”
Being interviewed (and interviewing) are activities that requires attention and practice. Make sure that you have prepared for your next interview by asking and answering hard questions.
Either be part of a structured Mock Interview Program, or hand your friends your personal list of hard questions. Answer the questions out loud. Keep answering, over and over and again and again, until you are completely comfortable with your answers.
Structured Mock Interview Programs
Career Services Professionals would give anything for a mock interview critique to be brutally frank about your performance. Too often, this is not so. The interviews are often conducted by volunteer alumni who may not be fully trained to be both observant and tough. In the short meeting (interview and then critique), a Mock Interviewer may pick up and talk about on some faults and missteps. When the candidate has Issues (or the whole subscription), alumni interviewers are often reluctant to deliver 20 minutes of non-stop critique that might sound (to them) like “Get a haircut and a personality transplant.”
The best alumni report back to the career office with a laundry list of issues. More often, the report is likely to be “He has a problem,” or as I heard once, “She has potential.”
Assure the interviewer that your feelings will not be hurt by a strong critique.