Feel anxiety and nervousness heading just thinking about going to a job interview? Much of that anxiety is really centered around the stress of willfully putting yourself in the situation of being questioned, evaluated and judged. I mean how often do people voluntarily expose themselves to being grilled by a stranger and then look to the person questioning them for some kind of approval?
If you see interviews like this, its little wonder you probably don’t enjoy the interview process. And what’s more, you might feel like you have to come up with potential answers to hundreds of questions, not knowing which 6 – 10 you might get asked in any single interview. Well it doesn’t have to be this way.
I’m going to try to convince you that you’ve got more power and control than you think you may have in the interview process, and if I manage to convince you of this, you might find that your next interview becomes a positive experience.
So here’s things you control in the interview:
Time of the interview: Some people like to go early in the day or early in the interview process. Others like to have afternoon interviews or be the last one interviewed. When offered a time and date, you could request a time to your liking if at all possible.
Length of the interview: Your answers may be extremely long or short; have detailed examples proving your skills or not. How you respond to those questions will impact on the overall length of the interview.
Appearance: Everything from your choice of clothes to your personal grooming is up to you. Skirt and blouse or dress with heels? Shirt and tie, or khaki’s and unbuttoned collar? Polished leather shoes or suede?
Salary: Not always, but yes sometimes you can negotiate salary. Demonstrate you’ve got what they need and can add value to their organization or solve a problem, and your value rises. Blend in with every other candidate and your value diminishes.
Attitude: Whether you come across as brooding, enthusiastic, passionate or sullen, its up to you. How do you want to brand yourself? Aggressive or assertive? A team player focused on exceptional customer service, or driven to reach sales targets and deadlines at all costs? Positive and optimistic or negative and pessimistic?
Punctuality: Will you be on time, run late, get there 15 minutes ahead of time, or arrive 3 hours late because you wrote down the wrong time? And what will the time you arrive say about your reliability, your dependability and your ability to take ownership of your own situation?
Research: Couldn’t be bothered taking 10 minutes out of your busy life to even visit the company website before you walked in the door or did you do a little research about the company, it’s values, mission statements and challenges? The effort you put in here may be indicative of how much effort you’ll put out in the future if hired.
Answers: Your answers will either demonstrate you’re using a recognized interview answer format or you’re winging it from answer to answer. Your answers will also demonstrate your skills, experience knowledge and education or betray your lack of these. Will you give strong examples that PROVE you have the skills you say you do, or will you talk in vague generalities that talk more about what you might do rather than what you’ve actually done?
Language: The words you use will show your education and your weak or strong vocabulary. Are you using the kind of words the company uses and those in the field you want to work in currently use? Do you overuse words like, “awesome”, “like”, “for sure”, “totally” and frequent “um’s” and “ah’s”? Do you overuse phrases that get annoying like, “I’m glad you asked that question…” after each question?
Questions: Most interviewers provide a small window of time for you to ask anything you’d like. So will you have some intelligent questions that demonstrate you’ve done your homework and really want this job, or will you choose questions that are fully answered on the website or worse yet, questions that were addressed earlier in the interview? Maybe you’ll choose to ask none at all? What questions would this raise about you?
Posture: Whether you choose to sit slightly forward in your seat, slouch, fold your arms, cross your legs or plant them both firmly spread on the floor, your posture will communicate through your body language a message. What do you want to communicate without words that will support your and back up your words?
Facial expressions: Smile or not? Good eye contact or evasiveness? Your face could communicate anything from anxiety, stress and strain to happiness, comfort and confidence. Do questions you don’t expect cause you to look puzzled, annoyed, thoughtful or reflective?
Handshake: Do you or don’t you first of all? And if you do, is it a firm, weak, sweaty or confident hand that you extend? If a hand is extended to you to shake and you refuse; even explaining your health concerns or phobia’s, what could that potentially do?
You control a great deal in the interview process. This is only a small list of things. What others might you add that would help someone gain confidence as they prepare for upcoming interviews? The more in your control, the more you might see the interview as a power sharing experience.