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Rob Smith, of the Job Readiness training program at Second Chance, explains the importance of interview readiness.

In your program what is the very first thing you stress to your clients about interviewing?

We stress the importance of a first impression. You get eight seconds to make a good first impression. Most of our clients underestimate the complexities and dynamics of the first impression and how it leaves a lasting impression on a potential employer.

When you role-play with your clients, what’s the most common mistake you see?

The handshake and smile. Most of our people try to avoid eye contact and smiling at the initial meet-and-greet due to a list of reasons. At the top of that list for the most part is a lack of self-confidence.

And what’s the simplest way to fix that? How do you coach them through it?

Over the four weeks our cognitive behavioral training modules and methodology precisely target the attitudes and systems of thinking that perpetuate that lack of confidence. There is no quick way to change the socio-systemic issues our clients face. All we can do is provide perspective and elicit change from those individuals who most exhibit the motivation to do things in a new way.

Why does your program emphasize how to handle rejection?

Most programs motivate their clients to believe and trust in the organization and the mission. We teach the clients to believe and trust themselves. Helping people learn to believe in themselves is the most powerful tool one can have in handling rejection. The “no” does not reflect on who I am; the “no” does not call my character into question.

Ok, so let’s talk clothes and first impressions. What are your recommendations for heading into the interview? Is a business suit always the best option?

Professional attire is a big part of setting the stage for what the employer is buying. The employer is buying your product, your skills and experience, but if the product packaging ain’t appealing, they ain’t buying whatever you’re selling.

What would you say are the top three most important things to keep in mind when the interview begins?

Be positive. Be confident. Be prepared.

For someone not qualified for the Job Readiness training program program, can you point to any other resources that offer interview coaching?

Local career centers.

Can you offer any additional bit of advice for those who dread the interview part of the job search?

Job interviews are as much about you interviewing a potential employer as it is about the employer getting to know you.  If you have done your homework on the company and display that you have skills directly related to the duties required for the job, your chances are better than half already. Couple that with a well-packaged first impression, and you should have it in the bag. If not, there is always a seat open at Second Chance where seven out of ten graduates are successful in obtaining employment.

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