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First interview in 20 years

Q: I am applying for a new job, at a new company, after 20 plus years with the same company. I am so nervous and anxious. I have not been on an interview in years. I feel like I am a kindergartener on the first day of school. The thought of sitting across a desk from someone who will ask me questions about my background is nauseating to me. How do I get over this? What can I do to prepare?

A: You get an A for being brave and candid. Many others have probably been in your shoes but instead just muddled through the process. Here are some tips:

1. Research. Research the company and research the opportunity. Information is power. You will want to be able to speak confidently about the company, the industry, competitors and the opportunity. The more you know, the better.

2. Update your knowledge on how the interview process has changed since you last interviewed. Visit www.boston.com and click on jobs. There is a lot of valuable information available on the site, from what to wear to how to do well on a phone interview.

3. Practice. Practice with your spouse, your partner, your dog. Practice some tough interview questions. Be ready to provide tangible examples of your achievements. The more metrics the better.

What do I mean by this? Instead of “I am a people person,” consider: “I work well with customers who are really angry. I am often able to effectively address their concern and offer a reasonable solution, like express mailing a new device to them. I am a good listener and try to give them the opportunity to vent. I can empathize. I would be frustrated too. I often receive the most disgruntled customers. My retention rate with these customers is about 87%, one of the highest within ABC Company.”

4. Use social media to help you learn more about how candidates land jobs. Social media (e.g., Linkedin, Twitter, etc.) has changed the world of recruiting. This expertise will also demonstrate how you have remained current.

5. Lastly, be gracious and authentic. Thank all those who meet with you or spend time with you.

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