Prepare yourself for your next job interview with these helpful tips
31 January 2016| Last updated on 18 October 2017
There’s nothing that throws people into a tailspin quite like a job interview. There are very few of us who don’t experience sweaty palms, rapid breathing, and other signs of distress before an interview. On the one hand, a little bit of anxiety is good for us according to Psychology Today but too much hinders us. So how do we find that sweet spot?
If you think that some people are just good at job interviews and others aren’t, I’ve got very good news for you. Yes, some people do feel a little more comfortable but you can learn how to feel more confident about your interview skills. For most of us, confidence comes from a few different sources including feeling prepared.
Instead of just winging it in your next interview and keeping your fingers crossed for a great outcome, prepare for the interview to reduce the possibility of any surprises. Here are a few of the best ways to prepare:
1. Look over the most common interview questions...
...and make sure you have a good answer for each of the questions so you’re not left going, “Uh um….” in the interview. Not sure what the most common interview questions are? Learn how to answer the five most common job interview questions here.
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2. Deliver the answers you’ve come up with...
...(without any notes!) to a friend or coach who will give you honest feedback. Refine your responses based on that feedback.
3. Learn as much as you can...
...about the company, organization, and who works there. Peruse their website and annual reports. Read articles or blogs published by or written about your target employer. Check on LinkedIn to see who holds key positions at the company and in the department you are interested in. This way you have a good understanding of the company and who works there before your interview. Recognizing key employees or the names of particular projects will leave you feeling “in the know” instead of like the newbie. Side benefit: It will also impress your future employer!
4. Make a list of what you’re really good at...
...with respect to this position and include examples. Part of what makes us nervous is the feeling that they are not going to give us the job. YOU are the first person you have to convince that you are the best person for the job. If you don’t think you are the best candidate going into the interview, your potential employers might not think so either. So make a list of what you are really good at and why they should hire you instead of someone else. Having trouble with this? Ask your friends or (former) colleagues what they really value in you. Then come up with examples or stories you can use in your interview of situations where you employed these skills.
5. Come up with a mantra...
...I know, I know. This seems a little woo woo to you, right? I get it but having a phrase that you say to yourself when you are about to freak out is very helpful. As you are sitting in the car getting ready to go inside, what will you say in your head to calm yourself down. Try something like repeating your list of what you’re really good at (see #4), or “I’m the best person for this job because….”
6. Plan for the worst
Anticipate what might trigger your anxiety in the lead-up to or during the interview and decide what you will tell yourself ahead of time. Worried about stuttering? What will you tell yourself if you start stuttering? Will you berate yourself for being a stuttering, bumbling idiot? (Hint: That’s not going to do anything to calm your nerves.) How about planning to take a deep breath and telling yourself that stuttering a little bit is a sign of excitement and interest in the position. Explain to your interviewer that you are so excited about this position that you can barely get your words out!
SEE ALSO: Chat with other women on our forum!
7. Prepare for the question or issue you believe is your biggest weakness
When you can identify something that you believe your potential employer will be worried about, you can plan how to respond to their concern ahead of time. Are you worried about a gap in your resume from taking some time off to raise your kids? The employer may ask you about that gap. What will you say? Figure out how you taking time off to raise your kids benefits your employer. Is this your return to the workplace? If so, perhaps you’ll have more energy than other candidates because you are so excited to be returning to work. Maybe it’s the fact that you are a mother and mothers are the target customer of this organization. You get their perspective because you were in their shoes.
8. Don’t let logistics throw you off
Manage any logistical challenges at least one day before the interview so silly stuff like not having the right pants ready won’t add additional stress to even getting to the interview on time. Figure out where you are going, map it, and plan an additional 20 to 30 on top of the time you think it will take you to get there. Plan what to wear (and try it on along with accessories) a few days ahead of time so you can find time to iron anything or have it dry cleaned. Pack your bag with copies of your resume, extra pens, and anything else you think you will need for the interview. Don’t leave anything to chance on the day of the interview!
9.You have some power
Remember that a job interview is about you finding the right fit for you in addition to the company finding the person that they want to hire. You also have some control in this situation. Sure, you’re in the hot seat, but they also have to show that it’s desirable to work for their company.
With these nine tips, you will lower your anxiety meter and be ready to shine as the fantastic candidate that you are in an interview instead of getting tripped up by worry!
About the Author
Anna Sparks is the founder of expat career consulting firm Anna Sparks Coaching. She helps expats around the world find jobs that they love, go back to work after a gap, or change careers. If you’re gearing up for a job search and don’t want to worry about a thing, check out Anna’s Facebook page and ask about her upcoming 28 Days to Your Dream Job class!