Job Interview And Dating. They’re Related?


People in the know are always talking about preparing for job interviews and how important they are, especially when you want to get your career going, find a job or work on getting a promotion. If anyone has ever given you the advice, “Make sure you do your homework”, they’re really saying you should put some serious thought into the opportunity of meeting the employer. Although you might feel confused on what to do, I’ll bet you’re already doing it; just not in the job hunting, career or promotion context.

I’m guessing you’ve had times when you’ve headed out to meet some friends, gone to a party, a wedding, perhaps a blind or first date. What these situations have in common is they all involve meeting and interacting with people. And I think it’s safe to say that in all these situations, before you head out your front door, there’s things you think about and do.

First of all, you consider what you’re going to wear. What you choose depends on the situation, and it’s likely that what you wear to a wedding will differ from what you wear when you’re heading out with your friends for an evening at some local pub or a backyard barbeque / party. And a date? Oh you’ll put some thought into what you’ll wear because you want to do two things; look good and feel comfortable. Looking good is all about making the right impression. Hmm… same as an interview.

And it doesn’t stop with clothing. You have a shower or bath, shave and groom your hair, check your face a little bit closer than usual for anything that might mar your good looks. Apply the deodorant, maybe even dab on some baby powder if you feel you’re in danger of showing some sweat and you check yourself out again. Ah, you realize your teeth and breath need attention so you brush them, floss, swish around some mouthwash and your confidence is rising. Your ready.

As you think less about how you look and more about actually meeting this person, I bet you start thinking to yourself, “How will I introduce myself?” and, “What can I talk about?” You might come up with 2 or 3 things you hope they’ll find interesting about you and be impressed by. “Impressed by” … hmm… there’s that first impression thing again.

Now if you go along with the dating theme, you’ll want to find out about them so you have some kind of idea of who you’re meeting. It’s possible you might even ask people who know this person, “What are they like?”, “What’s their situation?” or “What do they do?” You’re gathering information aren’t you? The more you know about them, the better you’ll be prepared to say and do things you hope they’ll find attractive. You want them to like you and you don’t want get off to an awkward start by taking them to a Steakhouse, order yourself the largest cut on the menu and then find out they don’t eat meat for ethical reasons. For a first date, might have been better to go for pasta, sushi or seafood.

Okay so you’ve done some preliminary homework, asked around, maybe even went online and looked up a social media page or two. All of this is simply called research. See? You’re putting in the work ahead of time with the hope things go well. Now during the actual time together, you’re talking up your good qualities, down-playing your liabilities or if you do share a weakness, you hope it won’t end the date badly. After all, you’ve made that first impression, and you’re working on building on it; strengthening how you come across in a positive way. Hmm… there’s that, ‘making an impression’ theme again.

Okay now sooner or later you’re getting to the end. If you’re still interested in them, you hope you’ve done enough to have them interested in you too. You might ask to call them in a day or two, get a number, maybe even plan a second date. If things went well, you get a second meeting, and if not, you get a blunt, “I’m just not interested”, or even a, “I’ll be in touch” and it just doesn’t happen. Hey, they won’t always be interested in getting into a relationship with you just as you might find things about them that you don’t find attractive. The impression you’ve made and the impression they’ve given you are what’s going into the decision that you’re good for each other or it’s not going to be a good match.

By the way, if things don’t work out, it might sting tonight – even tomorrow or a few days later. Eventually however, you realize there are other people to meet and you might even be thrilled things didn’t go further when you find a better match.

Dating in this sense is much like the interview for a job. You want to make a good impression and that means doing your homework, putting effort into your presentation, talking about your good qualities you hope they’ll find attractive and of course, you’re also sizing them up too as a fit.

Whether you like the dating analogy or not personally, there are a lot of similarities. And telling people you’ll do anything work-wise is like saying, “I’ll date anyone”. Yeah, that’s never a good idea now is it?

Have Anxiety? The Pain Of Job Interviews


If you’re like many people, you probably don’t practice your interview skills when you are employed. It naturally follows then that you can go for years between job interviews. As with most things, the length of time between when you last went through job interviews and the present is likely to affect your confidence in your ability to do well.

So if it’s been some time since you last had a job interview, it’s completely understandable that your skills are rusty. Maybe things have changed a lot since you’re last series of interviews; maybe you got interviewed and hired with the first job you applied to last time around and so you’re even under the mistaken impression that job interviews are a breeze and getting a job is actually quite simple.

For most, job interviews aren’t something to look forward to. Whether you’re out of work entirely or looking to move from one job to another or one company to another, thinking about job interviews alone can be stressful. That feeling of being under a microscope and being examined, interrogated, drilled, pumped for information, testing your computer software skills, having to prove you’ve got the skills and that your personality is the right fit so you don’t rock the atmosphere of the workplace – it can be very intimidating.

Now, consider the plight that those with clinical anxiety feel. It’s like taking all the above and adding this extra level of nervousness, anxiety and pressure. You can’t just say, “Get over it” and expect a person to respond, “Oh okay. You’re right. (Breath)… I feel so much better.” Don’t kid yourself; people with acute anxiety face a real personal challenge with job interviews and it takes a great deal of energy to deal with the lead up to a job interview and keep putting out that energy long enough to survive until it’s over.

Now unless you live with anxiety yourself, this might be hard to truly comprehend. The best way to develop some empathy for others experiencing anxiety and facing the prospect of job interviews is to first imagine something you feel anxiety over yourself. Think of your fear of heights, being a confined space, out in the woods alone on a pitch black night; whatever brings on the nerves for you. Now, further picture yourself having to experience your greatest fear a number of times; doing the thing you want to avoid, not in some effort to overcome your fear, but rather as something you must do – and do alone – to get something that you must have. For people with true anxiety, that’s the interview experience.

And this is what empathy is all about isn’t it? Listening to someone else talk about their fear and then going to a place in your own mind where you can get in touch with that same feeling. While you might not feel the same way about job interviews yourself, you just might be able to feel something close to what their feeling about some other event or situation.

I tell you this; many of the people I support and partner with as they prepare for job interviews have heightened levels of anxiety. In some cases, I can see clearly where the anxiety stems from, but not always. How a person imagines the interview often is different from my perception of the job interview. Take the people who have repeatedly been told they aren’t going to amount to much; the ones who have been put down, seldom if ever complimented and given words of encouragement. The prospect of going head-to-head with a job interviewer – or worse a panel of job interviewers – is daunting. Yes, feeling you have to sell yourself and prove you’re the best person when you’ve been told repeatedly you’re not by those closest to you is almost insurmountable.

The job interview therefore can be a pain; not figuratively but literally. As the body experiences the stress you feel, it attempts to regulate itself and get back to normal; whatever your normal is. A little stress every so often it can handle, increasing levels of stress coming every so often it can also deal with. However, heightened levels of stress on a fairly regular basis it can’t, meaning living this way on a daily basis could have you headed for a breakdown or illness of some kind. It’s like the body says, “If the brain can’t figure out how to deal with what I’m feeling, I’ll just shut down for a bit and heal”; so you get a cold or just have to lie down and rest for 2-3 days doing next to nothing.

This elevated state of anxiety can and does affect how and when you sleep, what you eat and how frequent. It can impact on your ability to keep food down, cause you to feel aches and pains, stress points, get headaches, become irritable, experience mood swings etc. Do you see how the prospect of a job interview on top of these can almost be paralyzing to some people to the point where they say, “I just can’t do it”; and they’re right.

This doesn’t mean of course people with anxiety should get a free pass. They know job interviews are necessary to pick the right candidate. Often, people with interview anxiety are the best ones for the job. It’s just getting past the interview.

“I Don’t Like Boasting About Myself.”


When it comes to preparing for job interviews, a great number of people I help tell me that one of their biggest problems with the process is that they find it hard to talk about themselves. They say that from an early age they’ve been taught not to boast about themselves and so to sit down and tell an interviewer how great they are is hard because it’s just not something they are comfortable with.

Fair enough. Now while I don’t advise being boastful to anyone preparing for an interview, I do look and listen for reasons a person may not have a history of excelling in the interview process and so if this is a widespread issue it needs addressing.

What’s really needed to overcome this situation is a re-framing of what it means to articulate ones strengths and then market these strengths as assets to be desired by the employer. Keep in mind that the employer, as represented by the person or people conducting the job interview, is evaluating each applicant against the company’s needs. The candidate(s) who most closely fulfill those needs are the ones offered employment.

So you have a problem with boasting about yourself? Excellent! I couldn’t agree with you more so please don’t think I’m going to try to convince you that in job interviews you should make an exception and do exactly that. Let’s be clear however what boasting actually is though shall we? Boasting is exaggerating ones abilities beyond what they truly are.

The major issue with boasting is that you have to live up to whatever claims you make, and if you said, “I’m the best Plumber in the entire mid-west”, what kind of proof could you offer up to make this claim as an empirical fact? Unless they have some event pitting all the people in that trade against one another to determine the very best, you’d be hard pressed to have people just take you at your word.

Don’t be boastful then. Yes mom and dad and/or your childhood teachers were right.

However, I do advocate and strongly advise that you market yourself in the same way marketing firms promote products and services to we consumers. Not only do they tell us what products are, they would have us believe that the benefits of those products are so good that we simply have to have them. They promote the products often and in a way that attracts the attention of those to whom they see as their target audience. Their goal? Be memorable and prompt you and I as the consumers to act and purchase the products.

Like those commercials, you too should walk away from any job interview feeling that you’ve made an impression on the interviewer(s). You want to be memorable and the best way to accomplish this is to sell them on how having you join the organization is going to benefit them.

Make no mistake about this; you can accomplish this whether you are shy and naturally a reserved person or a confident extrovert. It’s not about how loud you are but rather how well you communicate  what it is that will as I say benefit the company. Are you a solution to their problem? Will you bring stability to the position? Is your combination of experience, education and personality going to mesh with those who you’ll work with better than any other candidate?

So how do you go about selling yourself without being boastful? First off, know yourself. No seriously! No one has taken the same path in life to get where you are right now, so what have you done, learned, overcome, struggled with in the past, achieved, accomplished, been noted by previous employers and co-workers as your strengths and desirable attributes? If you shared this information with an interview in a matter-of-fact way, you’d be marketing yourself not boasting about yourself.

Try this out loud: “I am a ________.” (Name of your profession.) Now say this out loud: “I am a good ________.” Now say out loud, “I am a very good _______.” While most readers will find they were able to state their job title in the first sentence with relative ease, the number of people who were able to go on and say they were good and then very good at it drops off as the one word accelerates the degree to which you state your high worth. So would you be able to say, “I am an excellent ___________?”

Understand that a company ideally wants to hire the best candidate for a job opening. They count on applicants to share with them the information they’ll need upon which to base their hiring decisions. Even if they don’t ask it outright, they are constantly thinking, “Why should I hire you?” It’s up to you to give them examples from your past which prove you have the skills you say you do – and examples by the way keep you from making claims you can’t support (boasting!).

Think to yourself: Okay here’s who I am; these are my strengths. I’ve accomplished these things and here’s what others have complimented or appreciated about me in places I’ve worked. I’m a good fit for this job based on my personality, attitude, qualifications and personal motivation. You’d be well-advised to show some enthusiasm for the position too.

Boasting and marketing are not the same thing. Market yourself dear reader!

 

Ever Get Mad At Yourself After A Job Interview?


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!