I haven’t been on any interviews lately, but I was in a situation recently that required me to have confidence to the 10th power. It was a scary, intimidating, first-time-ever event that I dreaded for weeks. I realized that although I had no control over the circumstances, I had choices about how I approached it and how I responded.
Job interviews don’t rattle me too much. I’m fairly confident about my skills, experience and how I present myself. But I know many people find interviewing very nerve-wracking. In my experience and the experts will tell you that one of the best approaches is to BE PREPARED. (That good old Girl Scout stuff pays off again.)
An interview is definitely not one of those occasions where you get points for just showing up. So what are some key components of preparedness for interviewing?
· Research the organization. Duh. This might seem obvious, but there are many facets to it. Looking at the company Web site, literature, stock performance history, etc. are all good things. But go deeper. A friend recently interviewed for a college teaching position. She researched the people on the hiring committee very thoroughly. So during the interview she was able to cite one of the hiring professor’s publications. Her “undercover” work landed her the job.
· Get a great pair of shoes. At the risk of sounding sexist, I think women understand this instinctively. Wearing an outfit that makes you feel professional, attractive and confident is HUGE. In my case, I know I enter a room and engage with people differently when I know I look good. Guys can get it from a beautifully tailored suit. But by all means, give the shoes or suit a test drive so you are comfortable wearing them/it to your interview.
· Practice, practice, practice. Did you just flash on piano lessons? I did. People in therapy groups I’ve led hate it when I make them do role-plays to practice assertiveness or to approach a difficult personal relationship. But role-playing works. Just “trying on” the words will decrease your anxiety. Have a friend be the interviewer and don’t let them go easy on you. Ask for feedback about body language, posture, eye contact, etc.
· Anticipate atypical questions. The days of the interviewer asking “Where do you see yourself in five years?” are long gone. Now they are likely to throw a weird work scenario at you and ask how you would handle it. Some people are great at thinking on their feet in these situations. Others, not so much. If you’re in the latter group, allow yourself a few minutes to think. Put on a deep, thoughtful expression while buying time.
Finally, and this sounds silly, but know where you’re going. I bet some of you are directionally-challenged like me. I do practice runs to find the location of the interview. Check out parking, too. You don’t want to get that nice suit all sweaty when you have to run six blocks from your parking space.
This is a post by Nancy LaFever. You can read more from her at the Centre for Emotional Wellbeing blog.