A job seeker recently left a comment here on WorkCoachCafe.com that he was so nervous about being interviewed that he wouldn’t show up for scheduled interviews. It can be that scary, but hopefully it won’t be if you are well prepared.
Everyone is nervous in an interview, and employers know that and take it into consideration. Know that you will screw up. Everyone screws up. It is NOT fatal!
When you have an interview coming up, congratulate yourself – an interview puts you one important step closer to landing that new job! YEA!
So, take advantage of this opportunity, and do these three things:
1. Look at each interview as a two-way street.
You want to know more about them as much as they want to know more about you. It’s a learning opportunity for everyone. Would this be a good match for both “sides” of the table? That’s really the core issue in a job interview, but many job seekers lose track of it in their concern to give a “great performance.”
You’ll have an opportunity to see inside an employer’s offices or premises, meet their employees, and find out what they do.
Look around, and ask yourself questions like these, depending on your preferences, needs, and priorities:
- Do I like what I see?
- Are people busy or not?
- Are people smiling or not?
- Is it too noisy or too quiet?
- Macs or PC’s? Both? Neither?
- Lots of walls separating people, some walls, or no walls?
- Does it look prosperous or not? Clean or not? Well-maintained or not?
- Is there a water fountain, coffee/snack nook, a place to leave your lunch, if you brought it?
- Is it a good neighborhood, close to public transportation or free/cheap/good parking, restaurants or day-care centers close by?
Then, be sure to ask questions (NOT about salary and benefits yet!!!), like these:
- Why is this job open?
If it’s a new job, the company could be growing, which is a good sign. If the job was held by someone else, then you have more questions to ask:
- How long was that person in the job?
Is this a job where people don’t stay long? If they don’t stay long, see if you can find out why they leave quickly? Do they burn out or is it a company “launch pad” where they quickly move on to a better job?
- If they left the job (but not the company), were they promoted?
You’re not looking for any real details on the person who left, but you are looking for an indication that there is a career path here. And you are also looking for an indication that this is a good place to work – is the company growing or not?
- How would (or do) you measure success in this job?
- What is a typical day, week, or month like in this job?
- Who would I be working with on a typical day?
- Are there any particularly tough/stressful times in this job (end of month reporting, end of week team meeting presentation, end of day cleaning up, periodic calls from the customer-from-hell, etc.)?
- If travel is required, how much travel is needed?
- If travel is required, where would the person in this job go?
- If travel is required, how is it done?
- Would you have a company car for lots of local travel?
- Would you be expected to use your own car for lots of local travel?
- If travel outside of the state or region, how and where does someone typically stay (cheap motel or better option)?
- Who does the job report to, officially and unofficially?
- What do you like best about working here?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- If successful, where do you think the person who is hired for this job will be in 2 years or in 5 years?
Does it look like a place where you would be happy working?
2. Understand that you really don’t have anything to lose but time.
Granted, if you have overdue bills to pay, you don’t want another delay in the opportunity to collect a paycheck. So, think of this as practice – if it doesn’t work out.
Worst case, after the interview, you’ll decide that you don’t want to work there, or they’ll decide that they don’t want to hire you. Either way, you come out OK when it is over. No harm; no foul. You’ll probably never see those people again, unless you want to. And you have learned something about this employer and these people.
In addition, interviewing, particularly for someone who is introverted or shy, is something that gets easier with practice. So, worst case, you’ll have more practice at it when you are done, and you’ll do better next time.
Author Wendy Gelberg, Introverts’ Job Search Expert for our sister-site Job-Hunt.org, wrote a very helpful post: Successful Interviewing for Introverts that provides excellent advice for introverts on how to handle interviews.
Best case, you may land a job!
3. Take the time to be well-prepared.
We know the common interview questions that get asked, linked to the WorkCoachCafe post about each question:
- What’s your greatest weakness?
- What’s your greatest strength?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
- Tell me a little about yourself.
- So, what do you know about us?
And the special circumstances questions:
- Why you left your last job when you quit?
- How to talk about being fired?
- Why you left the last job too soon?
- Reason for leaving after 15 years?
- Reason for dropping out of law school?
After you’ve read the articles above, think about what your answers are or should be. Then, write your answers out. Read them out loud a few times. Then, say them out loud – without reading them. Practice until you can comfortably say your answers out loud without reading them.
It’s good to get feedbck on your answers which means saying your answers to someone else (which is great practice).
Do some research on how to answer the questions. For more excellent articles written by Ronnie Ann here on WorkCoachCafe.com about answering interview questions – just look in the right column or click on “Career Topics” at the top of the page and then select “How to Answer Annoying Job Interview Questions” to find help.
Try the Power-Pose Process
Check out the scientifically-proven “power poses” that Harvard Business School professor Dr. Amy Cuddy and her colleagues discovered. Holding these poses for a few minutes – in private, before the interview – changes some of the hormone levels in your bloodstream and increases confidence. It sounds wacky, but Harvard Business School is a very pragmatic place! See this post: Build Your Confidence for Interviews in Less Than 5 Minutes for how to do it.
If you can get professional help with your interviewing techniques – someone knowledgeable to practice on – that would be most helpful. If you are in the USA, find your local Career OneStop Center. You’ll get free, professional help there. Pick your location from the options on America’s Service Locator.
For a little more along these lines:
© Copyright, 2012, Susan P. Joyce. All rights reserved.
About the author…
Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. In 2011, NETability purchased WorkCoachCafe.com, which Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoach since then. Susan also edits and publishes Job-Hunt.org. Follow Susan on Twitter at @jobhuntorg and on Google+.