FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- You have submitted your resume to several companies and are anxiously waiting for calls to start coming in for interviews. Unfortunately, many job seekers are completely unprepared when the calls begin.

Now, before those calls start, is the time to prepare. A good place to start preparing is simply to accept the fact that interviewing is very possibly the most challenging part of the job search process.

It's immaterial that you have a very effective resume and cover letter if you are unable to do well in interviews. Remember that the resume and cover letter normally only get you in the door -- in other words, they may get you an interview. However, it's the interview that gets you the job.

A second important step in preparation is to understand several common interview myths -- assumptions that job seekers make about the interview process which are not necessarily true. Here are a few of those myths.

• All interviewers are skilled. Although managers usually conduct interviews, they don't necessarily have the skills necessary to conduct successful interviews. Many times managers take the interview process for granted and no one in the company understands the need to train interviewers.

One result of this lack of skill on the part of interviewers is that candidates sometimes have the opportunity to take the ball and run with it to ensure they cover the material they've developed in preparing for the interview. You might look at this process as helping the interviewer get relevant information from you to make an informed decision about your qualifications for the job.

• Open-ended questions most interviewers ask are dumb. Not true. An example of a very common open-ended question is, "Tell me about yourself." Interviewers often use open-ended questions to find reasons to eliminate you from consideration. Such questions give you the perfect opportunity to provide too much information and reveal your lack of focus. You would be wise to anticipate such questions and develop good answers for the most common ones.

The Fort Rucker Soldier for Life Transition Assistance Program Center has a library that consists of books on interviewing, and lists such questions and suggests information you should cover in your answers.

• You will always know how well you did in an interview. You should not assume you know where you stand after the interview is over. You may underestimate the poker face of the interviewer. Some interviewers are skilled in such techniques and may be able to hide their thoughts about your performance during the interview.

Additionally, the interviewer frequently will not know at the time you interview how well you stack up against other candidates or may need to discuss a hiring decision with a supervisor.

• Rehearsing for an interview doesn't really help. Rehearsing for an interview is one of the absolute best ways for you to gain confidence. It gives you the opportunity to hear your answers to questions about yourself and your experience, skills and work habits. It also gives you the opportunity to evaluate such things as your body language, rate of speech and appearance. You certainly don't want to memorize answers to certain questions, but you do want to rehearse answers to questions that are frequently asked.

Practice in front of a mirror, with a friend, colleague or your spouse, and have them give you some relevant feedback.

A third important step in preparing for an interview is to thoroughly research the company and the position for which you're interviewing prior to the interview. The more you know about the company and the job, the more effectively you can provide answers that match the job you're applying for.

The SFL-TAP center staff can provide you tips for researching companies.

A fourth step in preparing for an interview is to develop a clear strategy and to clarify your short- and long-term goals. As you interview, your strategy and goals will help you stay focused. This doesn't necessarily mean that you'll share all your goals during the interview, particularly goals which might make you come across with a "what's-in-it-for-me" attitude.

On the other hand, you'll frequently get questions such as, "What would you expect to achieve during your first year on the job?" or "Where would you like to be in the company five years from now?" which will require you to have thought through your goals and strategy if you are to answer most effectively.

The SFL-TAP Center staff would welcome the opportunity to assist you as you work through these steps in getting ready for interviews. So, before that first call comes in offering you an interview, contact the center at 255-2558.