This post is by Steve of The Confidence Guy.
I don’t have to tell you that going to a job interview can be stressful, particularly in today’s climate where competition is higher than ever. The date of the interview starts to loom, you pile on the pressure and you become a nervous wreck before you even shake the hand of your potential employer.
Here are five ways to gather your self-confidence and nail your next interview.
1. Don’t over-prepareI once turned up at an interview knowing nothing about the company, what they did or what they wanted. It didn’t go well, and I’m surprised that the interviewer didn’t kick me out of the building.
There’s no substitute for knowing your stuff, so be ready to talk about your successes and know something about the company’s products, services and positioning, but be careful not to over-prepare.
Over-prepare and you end up putting more pressure on yourself to have all that knowledge at hand, and you end up sounding overly rehearsed or stilted, giving canned answers to questions or second-guessing what you should say next.
So while you need to know what you’re talking about, you have to leave room to think on your feet and space to be at your best.
2. Go ahead and be nervous
The very fact that you’ve been invited to interview means that they think you might be right for the job. That’s a Good Thing.
It’s easy to focus on the drama of the interview and what happens if you screw up, but focusing on the pitfalls, problems and panic will only ever give you more drama, and that’s exactly what you don’t need.
Once you get into thinking, “Oh boy, I’m so nervous. My hands are shaking, I bet I’ll say something wrong. I hate being nervous. I’m screwed,” it’s so much harder bring yourself back to your senses and be at your best. Sure, interviews can make you nervous , but it’s okay to be nervous. The problem is thinking that being nervous is a problem.
So watch for when you start telling yourself negative stories about being nervous, and reassure yourself that it’s okay. After all, if you weren’t nervous it means one of two things: either you don’t care or you’re not interested.
3. Remember it’s a two-way street
I’ll be willing to bet that either you or someone you know has landed a new job in the past, only to find that either it wasn’t everything it was promised to be, or that the company was just plain bad.
That’s why an interview has to be a two-way street. It’s a method of establishing whether you’re the best candidate for a role and if the role and organization is a good fit for you. It’s not simply about the interviewer pulling out the information they need to make their decisions, you need to get the information you need to make your decision. Keep that in mind and you’ll see that it’s a level playing field—there’s no “upper hand.”
4. Put your lips together and blow
The whole point of an interview is to show the interviewer how good you are at what you do. Fail to do that effectively and it’s game over.
So you have to be ready to blow your own trumpet (hence “put your lips together and blow”, I don’t know what you were thinking about!). You have to be ready to big up your achievements and sell yourself.
The best way to do that is to get comfortable with your achievements. Don’t downplay them or think it’s egotistical to talk about them—look for great results you’ve had in the past and the part you played in them. What strengths did you apply that helped that come about? What talents did you use to shape things? Get clear on your achievements and capabilities and you give your interviewer real-world examples—that’s exactly the information they’re looking for.
5. Enjoy yourself
If you look like the interview is torture or are just generally down-beat, you won’t get hired. It’s as simple as that.
Worrying about how you think you ought to behave, how an employer wants you to come across or second-guessing what “being professional” looks like are sure-fire ways to look pained. Having interviewed a good few people in my corporate past I know there’s one thing that made candidates stand out head and shoulders above the rest: the fact that they were enjoying themselves, not just in the interview, but generally in their lives.
If you’re engaging with what you’re doing and enjoying where you are, it comes across strongly and speaks volumes. So relax, smile, have some interesting conversations, and even have a bit of a chuckle.
Even if you don’t get the job, at least you know you were you, and not worrying or trying to be someone else. Enjoy it, engage with it and bring who you are to the table.
What tips can you add from your experience in job interviews? I’d love to hear them!
Steve is a superstar confidence coach who makes you want to build a life you love. He also makes a fantastic ragu, and while he can’t promise you a batch, he’ll promise to help you find your natural confidence so that you can put your dent in the universe. Grab his RSS feed here and follow Steve on Twitter.