As political candidates answer endless variations of the same questions in pursuit of elected office, we can't help but be reminded of our own often-torturous experiences on job interviews.
If, like the candidates, we could review our performances on tape, what might we see?
Watch and Listen to Yourself
"Verbal fillers are the No. 1 problem," says Randy Bitting, cofounder of InterviewStream, a Web-based service that gives job seekers the chance to tape and watch themselves in mock interviews.
"People are so used to texting and emailing in short phrases that they can get stuck putting together a few complete sentences," he observes. "It's better to opt for silence while you gather your thoughts, especially if you're nervous."
Of course, nervousness can also generate overtalking. "We have a bar running along the bottom of the screen as you're being recorded to mark the passage of time," Bitting says. "We strongly suggest that respondents limit their answers to two minutes, at most."
Watching yourself on tape is also a good way to monitor things like dress -- too much cleavage, too-short cuffs -- and gestures, Bitting adds. "People don't realize how many times they scratch their heads or flip their ties."
Maintain a Conversation
Mastering the art of presentation goes hand in hand with carefully packaging the content of what you want to get across. "The key idea is to remember that an interview is a two-way conversation designed to determine if there's a mutual fit," says Rob Sullivan, a Chicago-based career coach and author of Getting Your Foot in the Door When You Haven't a Leg to Stand On.
A good formula, Sullivan continues, has you doing most of the talking for the first two-thirds of that conversation, and then ceding the floor to the interviewer. "That's your chance to ask lots of questions, which people tend to forget to do," he says.