Face Your Fears and Ace Your Interview
Similar to the anxiety felt by public speakers before delivering a speech, many people feel nervous or even fearful before and during a job interview. Being able to speak well and confidently will greatly enhance your chances of being hired. So this week’s tip will help you shine in your interview. Regardless of your audience, whether that may be a single person or a group of interviewers, let’s face your fear and ace your interview.
So Why Are You Nervous or Fearful?
It’s natural to feel a level of nervousness when approaching a job and when we face our fears, we will find ourselves more at ease. So let’s talk about the common reason many feel this way and how to overcome that reason.
One of the most common reasons for nervousness is being unprepared for the interview. Some ways to overcome unpreparedness is learn about the company, learn about the position and know how you would benefit the company.
Learn about the company. Research, research research. One of the immediate things you can do is visit the company’s website. Besides the basics (Company’s history, vision/mission, What does the company do, etc.), What is the company’s signature product or service? What project is the company working on? How does the company fare financially (Look at company’s annual report)? What challenges does the company currently face? Has the company been in the news? What is the company’s culture? How does the employees view the company? Who are their clients? Who is their competition? Some tools to use to research the company are Glassdoor, Internet search and social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook Pages, Twitter and/or Quora. You can also search for news articles.
Learn about the position. What does the position entail? What is the salary range for the position (Note: Usually, the first interview is not appropriate to discuss salary. Do not discuss salary unless the interviewer initiates the conversation (more about that in a subsequent tip)? What is the career track for the position? Does the position meet your needs?
Benefits of hiring you. Why are you the best candidate for the position? What unique perspective can you offer the company? For example, maybe you lack experience as a senior executive; however, you started a home based business and hired a number of freelancers to keep your company running smoothly. Or maybe you used technology to automate processes. Highlight how you benefited past employers. Be specific. (I automated the production in my department, saving the company $40 million). Connecting your experiences and educational background to the position you’re seeking is an excellent way to demonstrate your cognitive skills. Find out the pressing problem that the company is seeking a solution. Think about how you can help the company solve the problem.
What the Interview is Really About
When you really think about it, an interview is simply a conversation to see if you are a good fit for the company. But what we tend to overlook is that you should make sure that the company is a good fit for you as well. Take the time to have the conversation to decide whether working at this company is mutually beneficial. (Find out your non-negotiable here). Because the interview is a conversation, make sure you ask questions too. From your research, did you find anything interesting that you would like to comment on? You could mention it in your interview.
As you know, the interviewer will definitely ask you questions. Overcome nervousness by practicing answering interview questions. Have a mock interview with a friend. Some questions to consider are:
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why should we hire you?
- What are you most proud of in your career?
- What is your management style?
- How many times would you fail on a project before you quit?
- What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths?
- What would your past employer say about you?
- What would you past subordinate say about you?
- How would you let go an employee?
- Tell me about a situation where you had to overcome a challenge.
- What value can you bring to our company?
- Where do you see yourself in five years?
- What skills do you lack in this job?
- What is your plan to make our organization better?
Pro Tip: As you answer these questions, try not to memorize your answers. It’s best to be clear with what you want to say. This will allow you to listen to the interviewer, appear natural and help you feel comfortable and confident in your abilities.
What Should You Bring?
Have supplemental material. Backup material includes your resume, cover letter, samples of your work and letters of recommendations. You may not need to show the material, but if there is a question that you cannot answer, you may refer to the material. This acts as a safety net in case you are worried about forgetting something. It is also a great idea to have business cards made with your tag-line (what makes you unique). For example. Jane Doe – Accountant specializing in finding ways to save money.
During The Interview
Once the interview process starts, there are three things you want to do: Try to relax (you can practice some deep breathing exercises prior to the interview), listen thoughtfully to the interviewer and be yourself.
Prior to going into the interview, take a deep breaths and slowly blow out to center yourself and get relaxed. Take your time. This is also a good time to state your affirmations. Remind yourself that no matter the outcome, this interview does not define you. Begin to tell yourself your strengths: You are qualified, smart, a go-getter, tenacious,etc. This will help boost your confidence and help you relax.
Become aware of the person(s) interviewing you and their moods. Listen carefully and respond accordingly. Remember it’s just a conversation and you’re both are trying ascertain of the mutual benefits. Follow interviewer’s lead and allow him/her to guide the conversation.
Although it is important to be a likable, friendly person to the interviewer, it is more important to present your authentic self. Be honest; but not arrogant, rude nor overly excited.
Don’t point out your weaknesses unless asked. A common question asked in an interview is: “Tell me your weaknesses.” Be prepared to answer that question with a positive remark. An example may be: “One weakness is that I try to do a perfect job. I make sure that my work is the best quality I can achieve. Sometimes, I may do extra work to make sure the job is excellent.”
After the Interview
Ask for the interviewer’s business card and make note of everyone you interacted with. Get their names if possible. Follow up with a brief thank you note to everyone you were in contact with, including the interviewer’s assistant, and the receptionist. I prefer a handwritten note; however, in many cases, an email may be fine. Thank the interviewer for meeting with you and one short sentence of a part of the conversation that was interesting to you. Reiterate the problem that you can help the company solve.
You want to be natural in your job interview and not fearful or arrogant. One way to overcome fear is to thoroughly prepare for the interview. Next, present yourself in a positive manner, but be yourself. Relax, listen thoughtfully and be professional. Following these steps will help you have a good interview and help to smash any fears you may have.