When you are searching for that next career opportunity it’s super easy to get in your head. We get in our head about everything and anything, but it’s the interview process that tends to stress us people out the most. You might be stress and anxiety ridden about what to wear, what to say, and how to prepare for questions. Trying to be a certain way, puts a damper on you being your most authentic self in what should really be a simple and friendly conversation.
Interviews feel scary for a lot of people. It’s like we are auditioning for an upcoming hit movie and we want to land the lead part. We may even feel like we need to be chosen because it feels like our finances and life are on the line. Many times they are.
Stress can be all consuming; taking over your mind and body. If we end up rambling on a tangent or sweating profusely during an interview, we know that isn’t going to leave the lasting impression we are hoping for, and it probably won’t lead to an offer. That’s why it’s important to keep calm so you can think positive, be yourself, put your best foot forward, and rest assured that if the position is meant to be, it will be.
It’s normal to be a bit nervous for an interview, but there are ways to ensure you keep your cool and an optimistic mindset. An interview is a chance for an employer to get to know you and see how we demonstrate the skills we boast about on our resume. That being said, it’s easy to expect the best outcome from an interview when we can feel proud of how we prepared. Preparation goes beyond making you're dressed appropriately and on time for the meeting.
Here are some ways you can maintain your composure and an optimistic outlook when it comes to that next big interview.
Keep it Kind
Sometimes our mind has a mind of its own, am I right? That voice, our life’s narrator, sometimes has a mean streak. During a job search or interview process, you have to keep that little voice in check! Keep it kind. It’s easy to hop on the complain train, start comparing, and then trash-talking ourselves, so we have to make being kind to ourselves the number one priority. Shift that internal voice to be your biggest fan! Make them praise and compliment you non-stop. If you were getting a friend excited for a new opportunity, what would you say? You’d probably tell them they were awesome, that no one can do what they can do, that if these people don’t choose them it would be their loss. Get in the habit of saying kind things to yourself non-stop. That boost of motivation and confidence we are all looking for comes from the inside.
Get Comfortable Talking About Yourself
I’ve heard many clients say that interviews make them nervous because they hate talking about themselves. To this, I ask why? Don’t you think you bring something special to the table? Do you believe your unique gifts and talents add value to an organization? The interview truly is your time to shine! Of course, there is a boundary between speaking strongly and confidently to your skills and experiences, versus being overly boastful. Practice telling your story, or “personal pitch”. Most employers want to know who you are, where you are from, how you started in your industry, and how you got to where you are now. Giving a broad overview of your background is where most interviews begin. The people who are interviewing you want to know how you ended up in their office, why you are interested in the position you have applied for, and why hiring you is the right choice for them to make. If you can confidently articulate your background and why you are a match for their job opening, the interview will feel like a walk in the park. Spending some time practicing will set you up for success big time.
Listen to Hear, Not to Respond
Other than an interview (and maybe a first date), there aren’t many situations where we will sit down and be required to answer questions about ourselves. Now that you are comfortable talking about yourself, you need to be prepared to engage in active listening during the interview, so you can be sure to give appropriate and relevant answers to the questions being asked. Staying present and focused on what the interviewer is asking, instead of what we think they are asking is crucial. Make sure to listen to the entire question before offering a response. It’s okay to take some time to formulate your answer, or even ask them to repeat the question. Likewise, it is also okay to reframe the question back to them and clarify what they are asking. Just like any conversation we have to be present to get the most benefit. When it comes to interviewing, listening is the key to any great answer.
Keeping your energy light and upbeat during an interview is always your best feature. You know the feeling that you're are ready to take on the day and nothing is going to kill your vibe? That’s the feeling to hold on to in an interview! You are there so this employer can get to know you, and so you can get to know them. Staying in your best high vibe energy that showcases your true authentic self, is going to demonstrate how easily you will connect with other team members in their organization. It's always candidates who are upbeat and have a friendly energy and disposition, that leave a lasting impression and are strong contenders for an offer.
Go with the Flow and Let it Go
Once the interview is over, that inner dialogue can start yammering on with a bunch of nonsense. Often it begins analyzing everything that took place; what the hiring manager said, what they asked, what they didn’t ask, what you said, how you answered (or didn’t answer) specific questions. Our stress levels start to rise and we become frozen with anxiety thinking we bombed. The thing is, none of that internal conversation with yourself is helpful. It only makes you feel more stressed. Interviews are just like anything else. The more you do them, the better you feel about them. Some are going to go well and you are going to have an incredible connection with the interviewer. Some are no doubt going to be super awkward. It’s always great to feel a connection with the interviewer, but that isn’t necessarily indicative of getting an offer, or not. You have to keep an open mind throughout this process and stop yourself from going down the slippery slope of over-analyzing, ruminating, and of course, catastrophizing. Go with the flow, make sure you bring your best self, and then let it go. Follow up with a professional thank you showing your gratitude for their team's time, and then wait patiently. The decision of whether you get a job offer is never in our hands, but you can choose to give yourself credit for how you showed up. Know that when the right opportunity comes, it will come to fruition in the best possible way.
We all possess the power to reduce internal stress and lean into ease instead. The interview process is one of those times when we need to cut through the tension and stay grounded. If you can be kind to yourself, get comfortable speaking to your strengths, focus on the conversation, stay upbeat, and go with the flow, you will allow yourself to truly shine (stress-free) when it matters most.
** Guest Blog for SpectraForce Technologies **