What I Think While Interviewing You


First of all you may not even care what I’m thinking when I’m sitting down across from you in this job interview; but you should. After all, you’re hoping I offer you the job we’re talking about. So it stands to reason that if you know what I’m thinking, you have a chance to either let me go ahead with those same thoughts or you’ve got time to change my mind before we’re done.

So let’s begin with my first impression.

When we met the reception area, I quickly looked you up and down and I started with your clothing.  I’m giving you top marks if the clothes are clean, fit with our company dress code and I’m evaluating your judgement in not just what you’re wearing, but how your clothes fit, the coordination and the appropriateness of what you selected to wear.

At the same time – and we’re talking about 3-4 seconds here – I’m taking in your hygiene and personal grooming, your facial expression, noting any obvious piercings or visible tattoos, and noting how you looked just before you realized I was the interviewer. That’s a lot to take in over 3 or 4 seconds, but I do this for a living you understand. Actually you do it too; you’re looking me over I believe and sizing me up as we meet.

I’m offering you my hand by the way as a traditional form of greeting, and how you react to this is also information I’m gathering to assess your suitability. After all, you’ll be meeting many people should I hire you, and your comfort level in how you greet them reflects on us as an organization. I’m impressed most with a firm but not overpowering handshake in return.

Now I understand you’re likely nervous and that’s to be expected. Some nervous excitement given what’s at stake is a good thing actually, but I’m checking as we begin hoping you haven’t got extreme nervousness to the point where I don’t get to see the real you. I’m actually hoping to put you at ease to the extent I can so that I can assess the person you’ll be on a daily basis. Telling me you’re extremely nervous and not yourself isn’t helping your cause. How can I really see you fitting in with my other staff if the real you isn’t present?

Now that we’re seated, I’m noting your posture and like the fact you sit slightly forward and you’re making great eye contact. The smile I’m giving you as we begin is hopefully reminding you to smile yourself – there it is! I’m now wondering if that smile looks natural or forced; because a natural smile is welcoming and appealing to customers and makes for a friendlier workplace. I know not everyone walks around smiling all day, but what I really want to avoid is hiring someone with that brooding, all-too-serious face that seems set in a constant frown. That’s not going to be a good fit here.

Now as we begin the questions and I listen to you speak, I’m sizing up how much you know about the job you’re interviewing for. A question asking what you know about our company, the job itself or why you’ve applied is designed to give you the chance to tell me how much – if any – research you’ve done. If you’re really interested and invested this opportunity you’ll do well in this. If you don’t answer well, I’m unimpressed and guessing we’re just one of 50 places you’re applying, hoping somebody hires you.

I’m really liking the fact that you answer the questions I’m asking. You obviously know yourself well, and the examples you’re giving me are backing up your claims  when it comes to your experience. How you handled situations in past jobs gives me a really good idea of how you’ll behave and act if I bring you onboard here.

You know what I’m also thinking? I hear energy in your voice; you really sound enthused about the job and you’re convincing me that you’re really looking forward to the work. This seems like more than just a job to you; I like that. This is after all, a company I’ve put a lot of hours and dedication into. I’m in a place to select an applicant who will bring some real energy and be a positive addition; because let’s face it, I’m going to work with whomever I hire.

Another thing I’ve noticed as you’re talking is that you look like you’re using your brain. I mean, you’re answers show you’ve thought about the questions asked, and the answers don’t sound rehearsed and fake. Your facial expressions are moving between serious and thoughtful to smiling – the odd laugh added which shows a natural side. You’ve prepared some questions too I see, and bringing along your résumé, the job posting, a pen and having it all organized in front of you tells me you’re ready. I like that because you’re not just saying you are organized, this proves it.

Having wrapped up with a handshake again and walked you out, I noticed you also stopped just long enough to shake the hand of the Receptionist and gave her a quick word of thanks. Full marks for that.

I’ve got other people to interview, but I’m impressed. I’m thinking at this moment you’re making a strong case to be hired. Well done!

Reframe The Job Interview


Looking for a job, writing resumes, going to interviews, worrying about whether they will call you or ignore you; this isn’t most people’s idea of a good time. In fact, most of those I know see the process as a roller coaster of ups and downs, built up expectations and dashed hopes. In short, a stressful experience to be ended as soon as possible by getting a job.

When I ask job seekers to share with me what they find most annoying or unpleasant about looking for work they almost always tell me it’s the job interviews. They typically say they hate them, (and hate is a pretty strong word). Why does this word get used over and over to describe the experience? Typically it’s because of those feelings of nervousness, feeling judged, evaluated, setting themselves up to be accepted or rejected.

Imagine how the experience of the job interview, and more importantly the anticipation of the job interview became something to look forward to however; something you perceived as an enjoyable experience. If job interviews were fun wouldn’t you look forward to them even if, yes they still caused you some nervousness?

An analogy might help us out here….hmmm….what would work for us…? Ah ha! Think of going on a date with someone you’ve heard good things about. Better than a blind date set up by one of your friends, suppose you’ve got a date Friday night with someone you’re looking forward to meeting face-to-face. You’re looking forward to sitting down with them because what you’ve learned so far about them has your interest peaked. You hope that meeting them in-person they’ll live up to what you’ve found out so far. Are you nervous? Sure you are, but it’s a good nervous and the anticipation is a good thing.

Why can’t a job interview be along the same lines? You do your homework and find out about the company you are interviewing with. You hope when you sit down face-to-face that they’ll live up to your expectations. Are you nervous? Sure you are, but again it’s a good nervous. You just might make a long-term working relationship out of this first meeting. You’re hoping to hit it off with them and them with you. Just like a first date, you spruce yourself up and look your best and come ready for conversation.

Now perhaps you can’t see any parallel beyond what I’ve described. In your view, it’s not like a date because in a first date each person comes with their questions, each feeling out the other and the conversation goes back and forth. Perhaps it doesn’t work for you personally because you view the job interview not so much as a first date but more like an interrogation from some spy movie where you sit on a cold steel chair under some intense light being grilled by some thug extracting all your information in the most unpleasant of circumstances. The worst part is that by submitting your résumé, you actually walked into this interrogation voluntarily!

Job interviews are like so many other things in life; how we perceive them in our minds goes a long way to how we will actually experience them. Imagine it to be an interrogation and that’s what it will be. Imagine it to be a fun enjoyable experience and it will be as well. Now I know it takes more than just picturing it as a positive experience to make it so, but when you shift your thinking to seeing interviews as good experiences to look forward to, you’ll also find putting in the work to make the experience a positive one is something you’ll undertake with enthusiasm.

That date this Friday evening? Likely you’ll get your outfit ready ahead of time, you’ll wonder what you’ll talk about and prepare yourself with a few questions for them. You also think about what you’ll share on this first date, probably putting your best qualities on display and concealing some of your faults until you get to know them better. You’ll think about what you’ll do, wonder how you’ll get out of it if things don’t go well, or if they do, you hope they’ll like you as much as you like them. When it’s over, you’ll hope they’ll reach out and ask to see you again or be receptive to your own follow-up.

Sounds like an interview to me! In fact, what if the term, ‘job interview’ was replaced with, ‘opportunity conversation’? What if you told yourself you have an upcoming conversation about an opportunity? It’s just a small thing perhaps but it’s one step of reframing this experience from the negative event you dislike into one that you could view as positive; something to look forward to even.

Conversations are one way we find out information and confirm what we’ve learned previously. For both you and the interviewer(s), this interview is an opportunity to sit down face-to-face and get to know one another. They’ve got your résumé and you’ve got their website and whatever your research has revealed ahead of time. Now they and you have a chance to ask questions, listen and rate each other, ultimately deciding if you have a future together and if so, under what conditions.

Tell yourself ahead of time this date is going to be a disaster and it likely will be. Envision it positively and it has a chance to work out and be enjoyable; for both of you.

Interviews: Asking Nothing Yourself Looks Bad


A key recommendation I always make when preparing people for upcoming job interviews centers on asking some questions of your own. Whether you are extroverted and confident or naturally shy and reserved, you would be well-advised to pose some questions during the process.

In our economic times, out of necessity there are a growing number of people who unfortunately find themselves in the position of applying for work they aren’t entirely or, let’s be honest, even moderately passionate about. For example, the well-educated Physician who finds credentials obtained internationally aren’t recognized in the country they now reside in so they look for a job to pay their bills outside of Healthcare. At the other end, a General Labourer who has never felt true passion for any job they’ve ever had period, who’s once again testing the job market looking for a job.

Then too there are the folks who are extremely excited about upcoming interviews and the opportunities they represent; a chance to do something and make a real difference in the world they know. For example the recent graduate who is excited at the prospect of putting their Business Administration Degree to use looking at an upcoming interview with what they see as their dream employer.

In either of the two situations above – and any other scenario – as I say, I believe asking questions yourself at an interview is not just a good idea but absolutely imperative should you wish to positively influence those interviewing you and increase the odds of receiving a job offer. Of course the opposite is just as true; ask no questions at all and you leave a poor impression and significantly reduce the odds you’ll land the job.

I’ve said many times before that I stress framing the job interview as a conversation where both parties involved agree the topic of conversation is an opportunity; a job for you and a potential new co-worker for them. So imagine a conversation where you asked questions of the other person in an effort to get to know them better and they in return asked none of you. You’d be left with the strong impression that they aren’t interested in you or even getting to know you. The same is true in a job interview scenario; ask no questions and you’re really saying, “I’m not all that interested in learning anything you could tell me.” So why then would an employer hire someone who has no interest in either them or learning more insights into what the job entails, the atmosphere you’d be working in etc.?

For starters, prepare a few questions ahead of time. Before you stress about how you’ll come across or how to exactly phrase the question itself, just identify what you’d most like to know that you haven’t been able to determine through some research. Are you most interested in knowing the hours of work, any overtime requirements, the percentage of time you’d be expected to be on the road vs. in the office, whether or not the organization promotes from within or the style of the person you’d report to? Jot these things down first; don’t worry how to ask, just write down all the things you’d really like to know that might influence your decision to accept the job or not.

Okay so you’ve got a few or a good number of things you could turn into questions. Take each thing you want to know and write it down as a question. Are some of these things you’ve put down more important to you than others? If so, put them in the order which for you personally goes from the most important to the least; the things that would be nice to know yes but aren’t critical to accepting or declining the job if it was offered to you.

If you took these questions to the interview, be listening attentively so you avoid asking one of these which they’ve previously answered. When you listen closely to the interviewer and keep your eyes open to your surroundings, you may discover during the interview itself that your interest is piqued about something you see or hear and this could also form the basis of a question you didn’t think of previously.

Here’s another thing that can be helpful. Once you’ve asked a question and the interview is answering it, focus on them and listen. After they’ve answered, think about making a comment building on their answer. “I like that; I agree that promoting people from within the company gives everyone the opportunity to advance with a sound understanding of the company from the ground up. My second question is…”

Questions to avoid tend to be those that reveal or suggest problems. If you only ask about health benefits and sick leave, it strongly suggests you may have an undisclosed health issue or your own. If you only ask about money and advancement, you appear to be only self-invested and looking beyond the job you are actually applying for right now. Make sure you emphasize that this is the job you are motivated to achieve and dedicate your energy to in the here and now and that you’d like to believe at some point in the future you’d be in a position to take advantage of other opportunities as they arise.

So here’s a question (ironically); what do really want to know?

 

Job Interviews And Memory Triggers


For many people the job interview is a highly stressful event that they’d rather bypass altogether if they could. A common fear I hear over and over again is the fear of not being able to recall a memorized answer; the ‘blanking out’ problem. Read on dear reader; I can help with this.

First of all, put aside the idea of having to memorize all the answers you plan on using in the interview. It’s way too much pressure on yourself – on any of us – to memorize 10 or 12 solid answers. It’s also probable that you’ll be asked at least some questions which differ from those you practiced anyhow, and so you’d have to think up something on the spot in the end.

Let’s make a fresh start on preparing for future interviews. Get yourself a pen., paper and a job posting you’re interested in. Those that take the time to get these 3 things and follow my instructions will benefit much more than those who just sit and read on. You do want to benefit as much as you can don’t you and succeed in interviews where you’ve run into problems in the past? Great.

So you’re back? Great.

Now look at that job posting. On the paper, print one of the key job expectations; what the employer will be expecting you to do. Now underline whatever you’ve put down as a kind of heading. Now take a moment and think back in both your paid and unpaid work and recall an experience where you did something exactly like that. So if you put down, “provide excellent customer service” as your heading, you would put beneath it a brief recollection of a time in your past when you provided a single customer with your very best customer service.

As you write down your example, it is critical to be as specific as you can rather than just a general example. So rather than saying, “I provided great customer service when I worked in retail”, say “I remember working at the ABC Shoe Store and a woman came in and was very upset. She’d been to 7 stores in the mall but no one had helped her get her shoes. She had very odd-shaped feet and needed extra wide shoes. I  listened to her then measured her feet and brought her two pair to try on. She ended up buying both pair and was delighted as it had been an exhausting day for her.”

Now, you can imagine trying to recall that story word for word and then realizing that this is only one answer of many you might need would be hard to do. If this is your approach up to now, I agree the interview would  be a scary thing to avoid!

Here’s the next and critical step: find a trigger word or phrase. Look at the example you put down and read it again. As you read it, ask yourself if you find one word or phrase that will in the future trigger the whole story and make it easier for you to recall when you need it. In my example above, perhaps my trigger word is, “Bunions”. (This is a sometimes painful growth on the feet and something the woman had in the shoe store).

So now beside the heading which I’ve underlined, I’m going to write my trigger word and I encourage you to do the same. My example looks like this:

Excellent customer service: Bunions

This process is now to be repeated for each of the key responsibilities the employer has put into their job posting. If you have 5 or 6 key responsibilities in the ad or job posting before you, you’ll have 5 or 6 headings on the paper eventually and one story under each heading that demonstrates your past experience . You’ll also add a trigger word or short phrase that will help you recall each story.

It may not make sense to anyone but you, but if you take just the headings and trigger words for each, your list could might look like this:

excellent customer service: bunions

resolve problems: goldfish

organization: pick up sticks

confidentiality: Zumba class

flexibility: ice storm

Now anytime you try to learn something new, there’s a good chance it seems odd and requires some effort to master. This method I’m sharing with you is no different, but it is highly successful – and so are the people who use it.

The key now is not to memorize the great answers you have but to recall the trigger words you’ve attached to each core or key responsibility the employer is looking for. I think you’d agree that the interviewer is probably going to ask you questions about the things that are important to the job you are interviewing for rather than questions unrelated to the job you are applying to. So in this way, you and I can predict with great certainty the questions we’ll be asked.

By having a trigger word ready, it becomes easier for your brain to take the trigger word and access the right story from your memories and bring it foremost in your mind when you need it most. This way, you blank out less and perform better.

All the best!

 

“Sorry, We Just Don’t Think You’ll Stay”


When you’re out of work and experiencing the frustrations of applying and being rejected only to apply and be rejected again, it’s tough to keep positive. One thing that can really be upsetting is when you’re told by a potential employer that you’ve been rejected because in their opinion, you won’t stay long because you won’t be happy to stay in the job they might have offered you.

The most annoying part of this message you receive is that the company has essentially ruled you out by thinking for you. Rather than believing you when you say you’ll stay and sincerely believe you’ll be content with the job they are offering you for the foreseeable future, they reject you based on what they themselves believe.

Ah but they aren’t unemployed are they? They don’t experience the ups and downs of unemployment; hopes raised and hopes dashed. They don’t therefore know the point you’ve reached where you will be truly grateful for the opportunity to work for them in the position you applied to. Given that you put all your previous work and academic qualifications on your resume and they were good enough to get you the interview, what changed between the offer of the interview and being removed from the hiring process? Did you somehow oversell yourself?

At this point many job seekers become confused. On the one hand the job seeker wants to put down all their experience and qualifications that match the job they are going for and certainly want to show a passion for the work they’d be doing. On the other hand, the job seeker now feels they have to conceal or downplay some of their long-term plans or additional skills so they don’t market themselves out of the running and end up rejected; again.

When you’re in this situation don’t you just want the opportunity to tell them flat-out that you’d like them to respect your honesty and yes thank you very much you’d appreciate being believed when you say that you’re making a commitment to them and won’t depart in weeks for something better? If that was honestly the case, wouldn’t you have just waited the few weeks and accepted that better job? They don’t know though that you’ve been out of work and searching unsuccessfully for such a long time that you have in fact re-evaluated how important work is and you’ve a new appreciation for whatever organization will hire you.

The company of course knows none of this. From their standpoint they see an applicant who has held positions with greater responsibility and salary than what they are offering, and they’re fully convinced despite your assurance that you’re going to jump at the first opportunity that pays more and uses more of your skills and experience than their own company can at the moment. They do not want to be re-advertising and re-interviewing applicants in a very short time or in the position of calling back people they’ve previously rejected to offer them the job.

Of course the other thing going through the head of small-minded employers or interviewers is that you could possibly not only do this job exceptionally well; you may actually come up in discussions as a suitable replacement for their own jobs with your wealth of experience. The last thing these small-minded folks want to do is be responsible for their own demise by hiring you!

Ah, but what’s a job applicant to do? Some people give the advice of, “dumbing down your resume” and in an interview, avoiding coming across as passionate, intelligent and highly self-motivated. I think this is terrible advice. After all, even if hired, you’d have to carry on this charade until your probationary period is over. Are you going to be happy or even capable pretending to be someone you’re not for 3, 6 or 9 months? Are you going to go in each day trying to remember what you’ve told or not told co-workers and your boss about your past experiences?

No stay true to yourself I think. Be genuine and authentic. If an interviewer or Manager rejects you out of hand – not because you can’t do the job but because you are more than capable of doing the job with skill and expertise and they believe you’ll depart soon, you probably wouldn’t thrive in the culture.

One strategy I have employed myself and I’ve recommended with success to others in this situation is to state your position at the conclusion of the interview in lieu of asking a question. Before you shake hands and walk away leaving the decision entirely in their hands, make your best pitch summarizing how hiring you will benefit them. There’s no harm adding how truly appreciative you are for the opportunity of working on their behalf and representing their business. Tell them straight out if they’ve communicated doubt about your commitment that you are a person of integrity and character; that if you are offered the position and accept you can be relied upon to honour their confidence in you with a reciprocal period of employment that will reward their decision in hiring you.

You do get to accept or reject a job offer and the employer gets to offer you a job or not.  If you’ve done all you can to communicate an honest intention to repay a job offer with your own commitment, it truly is out of your hands.

“Why Do You Want This Job?”


“Why do you want this job?” is typically asked of a job applicant when the job applicant themselves hasn’t come right out and made it clear why they are actually applying for the position. Even when it’s not asked straight to the applicant, the employer is always evaluating your words and your body language in an attempt to find out why.

Look, employers don’t want to undergo a frequent turnover in their employees. When they do, that takes time away from what they’d otherwise be doing, and of course it costs both money to advertise and then train a person. So it stands to reason then that they want someone who truly wants the job and who understands the job so there’s no miscommunication and they know each other’s expectations.

Now you might sit there reading this blog and say to yourself, “I know why I want this job – I don’t have one and I need to work!” That answer isn’t going to get you the job 99% of the time. What the interviewer is really hearing when you answer like that is that you are desperate for work – any kind of work – and have no real investment in the job or the company itself. Once hired and less desperate, you’ll realize this isn’t the best spot for you, and you’ll immediately start looking for a job that better suits you now that you have the security of ‘some’ job. In short, they’ll hire you, turning away other candidates, then you’ll be trained to do the job and shortly in this process you’ll quit. The employer will be left to repeat the entire process and get no return on their investment in you.

There are some people who during the interview itself become very excited about the job but fail in any way to show it. Their voice remains monotone, their body language is so conservative or stiff there’s no hint in it that they are really motivated, and so they are assumed to be fairly neutrally invested in the opportunity. If they land the job, good, and if they don’t land it, well, no big deal really. At least this is the impression they’ve left the employer with. Later on of course when they don’t get hired, they may say how disappointed they were, and if the interviewer was honest, they’d say to the applicant, “Really? I didn’t get the impression you really cared one way or the other.”

Now the best thing you can do is first let your body language show some enthusiasm for the job. Sit slightly forward in your chair, smile and be connected with the discussion that’s going on by looking the people who are interviewing you in the eye. Make sure the tone of your voice varies; stress different words as you talk so that those words are emphasized and you become more interesting to listen to. When you answer questions about your achievements and successes, show by your body language that you are indeed proud of those moments. When you speak of past employers that you got on with well, communicate that happiness with your face the same way you’d look remembering some pleasant memory.

Know why you want the job. Is it about a rare opportunity that brings together your past experience, qualifications and the chance to work in a smaller, tight organization where you can provide leadership and have many responsibilities? Or is this the chance to specialize; focus solely on a few responsibilities in a larger organization, where your expertise and the job description seem made for each other?

Are you out to make a difference? The short commute is a definite asset, as is the chance to bring your creativity to a company known for its openness to new ideas. Maybe the reputation of the organization as a magnet for cutting edge technology or their investment in local charities you support is part of your reason for wanting to be a part of their team. Maybe too you’re just attracted to their benefit package and you just want to disappear into a cubicle there for the next 7 years – no wait! Don’t use this last one – even if it’s true!

The key to answering this question about why you want to work for the company is to know how they’ll benefit from having you onboard and matching that benefit with some need they have you will answer.  So what do they gain by hiring you? Are you a problem-solver, risk-taker, new age philosopher, traditionalist or negotiator? If they need a problem-solver and you’re positioning yourself as a traditionalist who doesn’t rock the boat, there’s a place for you – but not with this company. You failed to do your homework and provided yourself a solution for a problem they don’t have; thanks for coming in.

The key will be found in the job posting; ‘what we’re looking for’ or ‘what you’ll do’. Make sure this is what you’re up for in the first place, and can you really be happy doing what the job entails? Don’t even pursue the job if you know you’re a poor fit. You don’t want to be out of work again in 3 months or less and again job searching.

At any rate, this question of why you want the job should never appear to come as a surprise in the interview; know why you’re there.

Tips For An Easier Job Interview


Many people fear job interviews. What will they ask? What if the mind goes blank? Let me help you feel more confident, be more prepared and be a strong candidate. 

Let’s assume you have already submitted your resume and because it matched up well with the employer’s needs, you have been granted an interview. You’re at the stage where you’re now preparing to interview.

Pull out the job posting. Note that it has two major sections it communicates; the job responsibilities and the job qualifications. If the job posting you applied to is short on either one or both, visit the company website, search online for similar job postings; in short, do your research to flesh out both what you’ll be expected to do in the job and the qualifications based on the level you are applying for (entry, mid, intermediate or senior).

Presumably you have the qualifications or they wouldn’t have invited you in. Don’t neglect to look them over, but concentrate on the job responsibilities right now. Look over the job posting see what you’ll be expected to actually do. Some things are going to come across as more important than other things. If it says for example you’ll do, “general office duties”, that’s not as significant as, “answer multiple phone lines, administer, set-up and organize electronic client files”.

Looking at the job responsibilities, first list the key or core responsibilities and make a second list of the less critical ones. Here’s one key thing to now understand: the interviewer(s) are highly likely to want to hear about your experience and expertise when it comes to the key or core job functions. It follows then that the questions they would be likely to ask you are going to be about these key functions.

So if the job posting called for superior problem-solving, leadership and negotiation skills, we can reasonably predict in advance the questions asked will have to do with these three items. Here’s another key preference of those who interview: instead of asking you questions about how you’d act in the future, they are almost certain to ask you about your past experiences. Past experiences are the best indicators of how you’ll likely act moving forward, whereas asking you how you might hypothetically act in the future just gets the interview answers the applicant guesses they want to hear.

So knowing that they are going to ask you about your past experiences, there are some important things you can do to prepare. For starters, you need an example of the core things they listed in the posting. So here’s what you do:

1.       Skill: Problem Solving   Example: Moments before the client arrived, retrieved the password- protected files from an ill co-worker and imbedded them in the  presentation. 

2.       Skill: Leadership            Example:   You empowered an under-performing co-worker who modeled your behaviour and by doing so mastered new sales techniques.   

3.       Skill: Negotiation           Example: Negotiated a trade deal with a supplier, reducing costs by 18%.

In this case there are 3 key job requirements, and for each one there is a specific example you’ve recalled that you can use to demonstrate for the interviewer(s) that you have the needed experience. You need to flesh out the stories associated with each example, and the best way to do this is to employ what is called the STAR technique.

Situation, Task, Action and Result are the 4 components of the STAR Interview technique. As you begin your answer, describe the situation you were in, what had to be done or the problem that had to be overcome. Move on to the action you took to resolve it and then finish by stating the positive result.

For each answer or story, don’t memorize the entire answer – that’s too stressful! Instead, come up with a key word or phrase that will trigger the story in your brain when you need it.

So you might think:

1.       Problem Solving: Locked password

2.       Leadership: Mentoring peer

3.       Negotiation: 18% cost savings

The trigger words, associated with the skill or experience you want to access in the interview, will make it easier for you to recall those great stories when you need them. If needed, you could write down the trigger words or phrases on a small card put in front of you at the interview. If you feel stumped, a quick glance at these apparent odd phases or trigger words will help you access the memory files that house your great proof stories. Each story is delivered using the STAR technique.

I point out here that you are in fact, making very good educated guesses at the questions they’ll ask; and you’ll be right more often than not. Therefore, knowing the questions in advance, you can best prepare solid answers to prove you have the required skills and experience. This technique sure beats going in blind and ‘winging’ it; counting on your ability to think on the fly and provide your best answers.

Try it now by looking at a job posting, pick out the key or core experiences and then think about your past jobs and where you may have demonstrated the very thing they are looking for in the right candidate. Learn this process and you are well on your way to feeling more confident going into an interview, and you’ll interview better as a result.

Job Interviews Make You Nervous?


If job interviews make you nervous, here are two things I want you to know: you’re normal and nerves are a good thing!

Some people such as myself actually look forward to job interviews. I see them as a chance to discuss what for me is an opportunity; some for advancement, others for new challenges. The interview is a discussion where I can demonstrate to an employer how my attitude, skills, experience and enthusiasm would be of benefit to them. It’s one way for me to see how I measure up outside of my current role with a company.

If I apply for a job similar to the one I have now, I have to find something more attractive in the new company; the location, the pay, the responsibility or the freedom to be creative. If I’m applying for a promotion or a job different from that I have now, I may not have every qualification. I will have to demonstrate how my transferable skills and past abilities to learn and adapt make me the ideal candidate in addition to my skills, experience and positive attitude.

Any way I look at it, the job interview is a proactive experience; one I have sought out on my own. Learning about other company’s and then seeing how I might fit in keeps me growing and learning. If by chance an opportunity does arise which ticks all the boxes on my, ‘dream job’ list, why wouldn’t I want to be in a position to go for it?

However, I really do understand why job interviews make many people nervous. You know – or should know – there are two different kind of nerves that you can feel going into an interview. One is the kind of nervous feeling you get when you haven’t done your homework. You’re winging the interview, and with every question you feel more and more exposed as wrong for the job, ill-prepared and you’d rather just bolt for the door and wish you had never applied in the first place.

The second kind of nervousness is healthy however. It’s the nervous anticipation felt when the new job is becoming more and more a possibility. You’re now 1 of 5 people they are considering hiring; if they choose you, you’ll have more income, new responsibilities, new co-workers, and hopefully you’re thinking you’ll be doing something you really enjoy. You’re feeling excited, and it’s that nervous excitement that has you pumped up. You’ve done your research, know what they are looking for, know yourself and look forward to marketing yourself with confidence and enthusiasm. Nervous? Yes, of course, but bring it on baby!

Take a professional athlete. They prepare themselves physically by working out. They study the opposition, research all they can finding where they can exploit some problem or weakness. They understand themselves, know their own strengths and know how best to conceal but work on their weaknesses. When they have a big game coming up, they get nervous too, but it’s nervous anticipation. The best of the best want the outcome of the game in their hands so they can perform and succeed.

Now you and I, we’re not professional athletes; not likely anyhow. The analogy works the same way however. If we want a job, a better job, a different job, a promotion, or even a job in an entirely new field from that which we’ve done before, we have to research and prepare. Just as athletes have pre-season games, friendlies, exhibition matches, and try-outs, we could look at interviews the same way. Mock interviews, where we act like it’s a real job we are interviewing for but we’re practicing with a Job Coach or Employment Counsellor are just like those pre-season games.

In a mock interview, you get to practice techniques, make mistakes and learn. You start and stop, stumble and learn, re-start and improve, growing in confidence and growing in the belief that you are getting better and better at marketing yourself. As you grow in confidence you’ll also find that your fear of interviews diminishes. Oh you’ll be nervous going into interviews no doubt; but you’ll feel nerves of the right kind. Gone will be the, “I hate interviews, I wish they’d just give me the job based on my resume!”, attitude. Replacing those thoughts is the, “I got an interview! I want this job and I know I can show them I’m the right person”, attitude.

Nerves of the worst kind can make you dread interviews. “I’ll fail, I’ll be judged, stress!, stress!, stress! I can’t wait until it’s over!”

Nerves when you are prepared can make you feel, “I’m nervous but excited! I’ve got this! I know what to say and I’m ready!”

One key mistake to avoid is only going for interviews when you absolutely have to. Never practicing interviews is like a professional athlete only going to the Championship game without having practiced all season. They’re going to fail miserably and they know it going in.

Advice? Get into an employment office and ask for help with your interview skills. Do some mock interviews. Apply for jobs and get in some interviews BEFORE you apply for the perfect dream job. Practice! When you get that job interview you REALLY want, you’ll have some interviews under your belt, feel more confident and it will translate into a better experience.

Or, you could avoid interviews at all costs. How’s that been working for you?