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Interview Skills 101 teaches MVRC staff how to play the ‘interview game’

“Your resume is the ticket to the game. The interview is the game. Play the game.”

On February 18, the Military Veterans Resource Center began its monthly 2-day training seminar. Career Specialists from every branch gathered at the Columbus headquarters to talk goals, the future, and to learn interviewing techniques from the experts to better be prepared to coach veterans.

During the seminar, Interview Skills 101 founders Cheri Wyatt and Brian Niswander walked the MVRC employees through four blocks of successful interviewing, covering everything from handshakes to closing strong.

Successful interviews begin with a good understanding of the ground rules. Interviews can be a lot like a sports game; before practice starts, you need to understand the rules. Before you walk into an interview, learn about how the scoring works, the field of play, who your judges are, what equipment you have and how to use it, and — of course — how to win.

After you understand what to expect, it’s time to work on your “ticket to the game”: your resume. Most resumes only get a whopping 6-second glance, so it’s important that yours immediately stands out from the pack. Techniques like color-coding, formatting and key words can get you a second look. Most importantly, potential employers need to know “what’s in it for them” should they choose to hire you.

The saying “practice makes perfect” rings true even for interviews. It’s important never to walk into an interview without first thinking through at least 80% of the questions the interviewer is most likely to ask and to plan structured responses. The PAAR+ method is an easy-to-remember format: talk about a problem or situation, analyze it, talk about the action you took to solve it and discuss the results. End on a positive (+) note by relating how the lesson you learned makes you a more valuable hire.

Finally, it’s important to think through any curveballs interviewers might throw your way. Listen for any time limits and be prepared for any “stress questions”, which are typically abstract and unrelated and give interviewers a chance to see how you react when under pressure.

Wyatt and Niswander founded Interview Skills 101, to provide proper interview preparation to recent college graduates, military veterans returning to civilian life, or anyone returning to the workforce. They met roughly one year ago at a job fair for veterans and began discussing the lack of interview preparation options available to veterans. With Wyatt’s 30 years of human resources experience and Niswander’s 23 years of marketing and hiring manager experience,  both resolved to become part of the solution.