Because work is a four letter word. But so is life. And so is love.

Coping With The Interview

You’re about to interview for that job you really, really want. And you are a wreck. You know that was another candidate you just passed in the parking lot, the fellow with the Armani suit and smug smile… And that woman sitting across from you in the reception area:, so calm, so collected, makeup impeccable, no moisture drizzling down the back of her neck: bet she’s a candidate, too. All of these people, after your dream job! And they all seem so confident!

Friend, you’ve got your eye on the hole, not the doughnut. Who cares how many other candidates there are? Who cares whether other people never break a sweat over interviews? What’s important is that one person is going to get the job, one person is going to get the brass ring (or the glazed cruller as the case may be) and that person needs to be you.

This will never happen as long as you approach interviewing as a stressful ordeal. “Successful interviewees,” states Jose Luis Garcia, Ph.D., Director of Management Development for Sports Authority, “convey, in no uncertain terms, confidence in themselves.” I am willing to bet that, when you walk into an interviewer’s office, nervousness hangs over you like a fog.

Now tell me this: how do you feel when you’re around a nervous person? Start to feel a little jittery yourself, right? Well, that’s probably what you’re doing to interviewers. And when that happens, they write you off.

You’ve got to get to the point where you walk into interviews confident, positive and enthusiastic, where interviewing is a fun game and you’re going in to win. Here’s how you can start training:

View your next interview as practice.
One interview is not enough time to turn your behavior around. So decide it’s OK if you don’t get the next one. See this interview simply as a practice session. This attitude alone will help you calm down.

Write an affirmation.
“I am confident and successful in interviews.” Write it on a card that will fit into your pocket. Stick it on your bathroom mirror, refrigerator door. Read it out loud, three times in succession, six times a day for the next three weeks. Remember, you’re in training.

Practice talking short.
Studies reveal that interviewees who listen as much as they speak have a greater probability of getting hired. When you’re nervous, you probably babble. Babbling in an interview is not good. So, for a week before the interview, practice speaking with friends in short phrases, no longer than 2 minutes in length. Get comfortable waiting quietly while they figure out their response.

Prepare (and practice!) answers for questions that make you anxious, such as:

  1. “Reason for leaving”. Choose a response that is CALM:
    • Challenge (“I couldn’t grow professionally in that position.”),
    • Advancement (“Freeze on promotions, others with more seniority.”),
    • Location (“Department relocating, the commute now prohibitive.”),
    • Money (“My skills and contributions have increased, pay has not.”)
  2. “Tell me about yourself”.
    Remember the short talk rule. State a job-related, desirable attribute. Give an example of how you used it to make a contribution: “I’m a quick study. I came up with a perfect design two hours after a customer made an emergency request.”

On the day of the interview, arrive no more than 15 minutes early. You’ll have enough time to acclimate yourself, go to the rest room and repeat your affirmation, but not enough time to work yourself into a tizzy.

Contact: The First Four Minutes (Leonard & Natalie Zunin) tells us that our impressions of one another are formed within the first four minutes of an encounter. To make a good first impression when you meet the interviewer, smile, shake hands firmly (but no death grips), make eye contact, say hello using his or her name, sit down, smile and keep quiet.

Let the interviewer be in control. Wait for a question. The first question may simply be “Any trouble finding the parking lot?” But remember, the person who asks the question controls the interaction. (Think of 2 year olds).

I’d love to know how things work out. If these tips help you land your next job, send me some doughnuts. I am partial to glazed.

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