There are situations in life that make us sometimes stop and say, “What a dumb thing to say! What was I thinking?” Usually these are relationship situations; boyfriend to girlfriend, parent to child, employee to boss, and of course the classic job applicant to interviewer scenario.
You know what I’m referring to if you’ve been in a job interview and you get that question where your mind goes blank. You’ve anticipated the question before and just as your mind was trying to articulate a response in your head, your tongue is in a different time dimension and blurts something inane out slightly before your brain can send it a message to zip it. Then you’re scrambling trying to go with whatever you said and that wonderful answer you once had is hanging in the universe somewhere forever probably with all those emails that mysteriously go missing.
Equally worse is a question you haven’t even remotely prepared for which throws you for a loop. Your anxiety rises while your sweat glands kick in and in the midst of your biggest fear of failure, you find yourself pleading with your cerebral cortex to give you something – anything that will get you past this interview question remotely communicating anything that could pass as human intelligence. Despite your desperation, your brain screams, “I’ve got nothing!” so loud your sure the interviewer must have heard.
Well I’m not at all sorry to say that if you smugly decided to walk into that interview with no preparation or practice, the anxiety and fear you experienced was really brought on by your own actions. Not only is the one interview a write-off, but the danger here is that if you don’t learn the lesson and prepare better, you are likely to repeat this experience again and again until you do. A series of bad interview experiences will only serve to create a pattern, and a pattern will possibly lead to major damage when it comes to how you view the entire interview process.
So how can you significantly reduce your stress in advance of getting an interview? That’s a great question and is the very first intelligent thing you could ask. It starts I believe in first understanding that in order to get a job offer, the interview is indeed necessary. You’re going to have to sit down and meet people and carry on a conversation; a conversation mind, not an interrogation.
The interview is you and them discussing a job opening and while you’re busy making your case as to why you are the best logical fit for the job, they should be making the case for why they are the employer of choice – but only if you are asking them the right questions as well. Ask no questions at all or the wrong questions, and yes it will seem like you are the only one on the hot seat.
Have a look at that job posting again. See how the employer has listed all the responsibilities of the job? Doesn’t it appear fairly logical that during the interview the questions they are most likely to ask of you will be to share your experience in previously or currently doing those same things? So if you are going for a job as a Bank Teller where you will need the skills of customer service, math and personal accountability, you are likely going to be asked to give examples of your competence and experience in those three things. Best you then have a few stories ready that prove in the telling your good skills and how current or past employers have benefitted from your use of them.
Sure you might get thrown a bizarre question you could not have anticipated, such as your favourite kind of dessert, but really good employers won’t waste their valuable time with these. The exception where they might ask you the odd question is if they suspect you are regurgitating rehearsed answers to get you off and see the real you, or if you have to by the nature of the job deal with new and odd bits of information to see how you handle these things right then, right there in the interview.
You can also get someone to interview you as practice before the real deal. Leave it to them to come up with the questions, or give them a list you prepared yourself ahead of time. In your list of questions, include any question you have previously had a hard time with or totally bombed out on. Why? Isn’t this about increasing your confidence not eroding it? Of course it is, but if the tough question you didn’t answer well is likely to rear its head in the future, you should prepare for it now so you deal with it much better in the real world.
Most people avoid practicing for job interviews because they hate job interviews. Most people then don’t improve because they haven’t practiced. Most people then have a lot of job interviews which they hate. See the cycle?
Want less job interviews? Good. Practice your job interview skills and prepare properly. Ironically, just as you get better and more at ease in job interviews to the point where you might actually enjoy going to them – you don’t get anymore. Why? Because lo and behold somebody liked what they saw and heard in the interview and offered you the job!