Have you ever walked into an interview feeling totally unprepared? You were attracted to the job they advertised, you liked the ambiance of the place of work, you felt welcomed by the receptionist. You even felt you were qualified for the position and that you would be an excellent employee.

But you just weren’t comfortable being interviewed. Having self-confidence will make your interviews more effective. If you’re confident, you’ll be able to answer the questions well and ask intelligent questions of the interviewer too.

What to Do Before the Interview

To be confident in a job interview, it’s wise to investigate a number of things beforehand. Find out about the organization itself, its structure, history, goals, and customer base.

Research the field in which the organization operates, the current trends, the major ideas.

Investigate the job description, whether the job setting is formal or informal, fast-paced or laid back, whether training is required, and whether the job involves working alone or in a team.

Write down a few questions you have of the organization. Interviewers are more attracted to people who are knowledgeable about the organization and the field that it’s in. You’ll more likely get the job if you ask intelligent questions that show both your research and your interest.

Think about the questions you’re likely to be asked and practice answering them out loud to yourself. You may also want to write down the answers before you practice them so you know exactly what you’ll say. Some common questions are:

• What can you tell us about yourself? Highlight some of your work history that relates to the job you’re interviewing for. Talk about any education you have that conveys the knowledge you have of the skills they’re looking for.

• Why do you want to work here? You’ve already done some research on their organization, so you’ll be able to recite two or three reasons why they are an ideal match for you.

• Why did you leave your last job? Don’t call your boss names or say anything negative about your last job. You can say you want higher pay, you need more challenge, or you’re looking for a job that’s more compatible with your personality.

• You have a gap in your resume. What were you doing then? Don’t make it seem as though you weren’t doing anything. Perhaps you were taking care of children or an elderly parent. You may have been traveling or researching a topic for a book.

• What are your strengths and weaknesses? What employers are looking for is someone who can get the job done and solve problems for the organization. Emphasize the strengths you have that would get the job you’re interviewing for done and solve problems you imagine they have. Have one weakness ready to talk about, and make sure it’s a very small weakness such as you tend to work during your lunch hour.

It’s normal to be nervous during an interview, so if you are, breathe deeply and feel yourself grounded to the earth. Remember the movie “The King’s Speech”? King George VI of England, who was king during World War II, stammered from the time he was a child. He learned how to speak without stammering, and he delivered several speeches that inspired the British people when they needed it most. So you too can do well, especially if you’ve practiced answering the questions you believe will be asked.

Use positive self-talk before you go to the interview: “I can do an excellent interview.” “I am calm and confident.” “I am the perfect person for this job.”

What to Do During the Interview

Make sure you arrive on time for your interview, dressed in appropriate clothes for the job. Stand and sit up straight so that your body language shows confidence. Smile at the interviewer and initiate a handshake. Stay positive and friendly throughout the interview.

During the interview, make occasional eye contact. Answer the interviewer’s question, but don’t volunteer extra information that’s not asked for. For example, if you’re asked if you have a certain skill and your skill is at the basic level, tell the interviewer that you can do that skill but don’t offer that you’re not an expert unless it’s the most crucial skill needed in the job.

Also, don’t go outside the scope of the job in answering the questions. Don’t share any problems you had in past jobs or mistakes you made because these are none of the interviewer’s business.

If the interviewer seems to be ending the interview without giving you a chance to ask the questions you have, say, “Before we go today, I’d like to ask you a couple questions I have about the job.” After asking your questions and getting the interviewer’s answers, you can talk a little more about your qualities and how you would be the ideal candidate. Employers are looking for people with self-confidence and who are able to speak up, so this would be the time to show them your self-assurance. Be sure to thank the interviewer before you leave.

What to Do After the Interview

Send a thank-you note that day or the next, thanking them for their time and for their consideration of you for the position.

Here's a very important piece of advice: If you don’t hear back after one or two weeks, call and find out if they are still interviewing. This demonstrates your interest in the job. If two people have similar qualifications, the employer will be more likely to hire the person who seems very interested in the job than someone who doesn't.

Author's Bio: 

Vivian Harte is the co-author of Self-Esteem for Dummies in the Dummies series. She has helped over 12,000 people learn and use assertiveness skills during the last 14 years. She teaches online classes on assertiveness, self-confidence, and teamwork. She has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Masters degree in Public Administration. She taught college classes for many years in Tucson, Arizona. She has two grown children who are both successful. She lives in Tucson with her husband, three dogs and two cats.

She offers kits with articles, guided visualizations, and songs as well as online courses, group coaching and 1-on-1 coaching, and you can find out more about these at her website, self-esteem-for-me.com. Discover how to increase your confidence and become a stronger personality at work by downloading her free kit Self-Confidence in the Workplace.