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Job and Career Expert Phil Blair: Three Steps to Ace a Job Interview

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SOURCE Manpower

SAN DIEGO, July 1, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Job seekers need to take control of every job interview, according to the author of a new book for those starting out or starting over in a career.

"Job seekers make the common wrong assumption that an interview is an opportunity for an employer to grill an applicant and try to catch them off guard with trick questions," says Phil Blair. "If you leave an interview thinking that you did not get a chance to mention one of your strong points, then shame on you."

Blair is the author of "Job Won! 500,000 Hires and Counting" (Author House, 2013). For more than three decades he has co-owned Manpower San Diego, the largest Manpower franchise in the U.S. His firm is San Diego's fourth largest for-profit employer, providing approximately 2,500 jobs daily.

From his experience hiring more than 500,000 people, here are Blair's three primary steps to preparing for and doing well in an interview.

First, fully understand your career history and professional strengths. You should be able to tell your story forwards and backwards, ably and persuasively. If you cannot, no one else can.

Second, practice your job interview skills until you've mastered them, until they become second nature. Study the interview do's and don'ts that I describe throughout this chapter. Remain calm and confident throughout your interview. It's not as if you're being stood up before a firing squad. If you've followed the advice of earlier chapters, done your homework and practiced, go in smiling. You'll knock them dead.

Third, develop CAR stories-short for Challenges, Actions and Results. These are brief narratives in which you are the star. Relate an experience to an interviewer in which you confronted a challenge, took action and got results. You should have several of them, each reflecting a different sort of accomplishment. CAR stories enhance the interview process and can be hugely helpful with open-ended questions that require you to illustrate your strengths and abilities. The open-ended questions used by an interviewer usually begin with, "Tell me about a time when..." These are called "behavioral interview" questions and are all the rage right now.

"An example of a behavioral interviewing question might be, 'Tell me about a time when you were not meeting a goal and what you did about it,'" says Blair.  

Using the CAR approach, the abbreviated version of your answer would be: "Last year, we were 30 percent behind on our sales goal six months into the year. I sent all our sales staff to a sales training seminar for one week and, due to new sales techniques and re-energized motivation, within four months we were exceeding our sales goals."

CAR stories can be surprisingly effective. They make a strong, positive impression upon employers because they illustrate specific Challenges, Actions and Results that you met, took and achieved.

Employers often ask leading questions designed to assess whether you fit their company's culture and plans. CAR stories are an effective way to turn a simple question into one that helps answer those concerns.

Just as we are all individuals with unique work histories and experiences, so too are our CAR stories. However, here are a series of questions you can ask yourself as you construct and then tune your CAR story.

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