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I recently had this discussion with a new acquaintance over on Google+. I love getting questions like this and I have even branched out into providing one-to-one career consulting so I can help more people. You can follow my personal profile on Google+ or circle (Google+’s version of follow) the Career Opportunities profile. Clicking either link will take you to the appropriate page.
Do you have career questions? Drop me a line on Google+ or any of my other blogs or social media sites.
T: I absolutely fail at job interviews. I don’t know what it is but, I could be the most confident person walking in, but as soon as I get in front of the interviewer, especially if it is a job that I really want, I freeze up. I start thinking all of these negative thoughts in my head, and I just know they can read my uneasiness on me. Right now I am applying for an opportunity at Red Cross, and even though it is a volunteer opportunity and not a paying job, they want to interview you for it. I am fearful that I will look good on paper, but not so much in person.
Is there any advice you can give to help me to not sabotage myself at interviews? Any secrets or tricks of the trade to help with my self-confidence?
Douglas: I would call what you are experiencing a “crisis of confidence” and it happens to everyone on occasion. (Been there, done that myself) You allow yourself to get so stressed about what MIGHT happen that you aren’t paying attention to what IS happening. We can all doubt ourselves and our skills on occasion, but you DO have the skills you need, you DO have the knowledge and you CAN do the job. This is true of all of us unless we have some impairment. Look around you and see everything you have accomplished in your life. You can accomplish even more.
The stress can also come from being judged. I know I hate being judged so I can empathize with you. That said, let them judge. You are who you are regardless of what they think about you. You need to feel confident in yourself and it will matter less how they judge you. They will judge you, but you will handle it better because you have an innate confidence in yourself.
Think of the interview as a conversation and treat it as such. I think many of us take an interview much too formally. There should discussion about the job of course, but if the conversation turns in an interesting direction — follow it. If you have an illuminating example of something from your life, share it. Try to show as much about WHO you are as WHAT you know. Remember, an interview is basically about them trying to see if they could stand to be around you day in and day out. (SMILE) Of course, you will want to avoid the typical touchy areas — sex, religion, politics — unless you are working for a company or group who specializes in those areas. No need to go into your drunken revels, either, but that probably doesn’t need to be said. (LAUGH)
Also, You might just be caring too much about getting this job.True to your present circumstances or not, you need to feel like you don’t NEED the job. You may WANT the job. You may LIKE the job, but you don’t NEED it. Feeling needy can stop us in our tracks and, I think, the interviewer can feel it, too. Try to push the NEED from your mind, even if you are feeling that you really do NEED it. You should always feel that you have other options. If not this job, then the next, or maybe the next. You should never feel you are there begging for a job. The company needs you as much as you need them. Remember that always. It is true — and if it isn’t true at this particular company, find a company where it is true.
This neediness has a lot in common with the “desperation factor” that we can sometimes see in others (and maybe ourselves) when we are dating. These people are so desperate to have a date, a girlfriend, a wife that it spills over into their actions. The come on too strong. They come on too needy. They come on as desperate. Other people can sense this desperation and recoil from it, as you have probably done yourself at one time or another. You are not desperate, you are just looking for a job.
Finally, find a quiet place and imagine what a perfect interview would look like.
(INSERT DREAM SEQUENCE HERE)
The interview meets you and provides you a coffee exactly as you love it. Tall Latte, 3 caramel pumps, extra whipped cream. You go to a comfortable office where you sit across from each other in comfortable arm chairs. You chat. You discuss. You have a great conversation. You think, “Hey I could see myself being friends with this person.”
Of course, most interviews won’t go like this, but imagine how would feel if they did. No remember that feeling and keep it within you no matter what actually happens. I hope it will make you feel calm, comfortable and confident, not matter what questions they ask.
I hope this helps on your next interview. Let me know if you have any follow up questions to this topic or any new questions you would like me answer.
T: thank you so much for all your advice. I can only hope that when I go into the next job interview that I can keep all this in mind.
I have submitted my application with Red Cross and am now awaiting their phone call. That’s another thing I hate – waiting. Even though this is only a volunteer opportunity it is an amazing one and I do hope to get a callback for an interview about it. I have been unemployed for about six months, and it has been 3 months since I last got an interview, even though everyday I have been sending out resumes and attending job fairs. I am running out of options, really.
Douglas: You are very welcome! I hope that it helps you feel better about your interviews.
As for waiting…Go do something else while you wait!
Don’t sit around waiting and worrying. It is so important to have many “irons in the fire” so you don’t end up obsessing about any one of them.
What else can you be doing?
Want to organize a +CareerCamp International in your area? (SMILE)
How about just getting together with others to share techniques, job leads and more.
Get out there and DO as much as you can. It often leads to bigger and better things you never imagined.