The waiting is the worst. When will you be called? Is there a delay? Then you start fiddling and even sweating. Then there are all the negative thoughts that come flooding in and your doubts about how well you are qualified for the position and all the “what if” questions!
What if they ask about any gaps in my resume?
What if I forget some really important details in answering a question?
What if my outfit does not fit in with the company dress code? (You can always check that beforehand by phoning in or checking their website and social media accounts.)
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.” — August Wilson
1. You tell yourself to be positive
“What you feel inside reflects on your face. So be happy and positive all the time.” Sridevi.
It is easy. Focus on your talents, character, and skills. Wow, …that’s impressive. Yes, you may well be asked about your failures and weaknesses but you have already prepared your answers on those ones so no need to go over them again.
Just in case you ever doubted the science behind this, read the LinkedIn article here on the studies done on positive thinking.
2. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression
I cannot remember who said this, but it is often quoted on dating sites but applies equally well to job interviews! Maybe you are worried about the handshake and if it is firm enough. Or perhaps you have sweaty hands and maybe even a dry mouth (this always happens to me).
Just remember to keep hydrated (keep a bottle of water in your bag or rucksack handy) and also wipe hands before entering the den! Keep eye contact.
3. How do I face a difficult question?
When I interviewed candidates, rapid and flashy answers always left me a little suspicious. Nothing wrong with some thinking time and many hiring managers welcome questions to clarify. That is much better than answering the question badly and going down the wrong path.
A really good technique is to answer the question partially. You can then ask for clarification. This is often very effective when you discover that some questions are ambiguous. They have been designed that way to test your thinking skills. The way you approach a difficult question and how you handle it will often be a positive element in your favor.
4. How do I deal with awkward silences?
“Silence isn’t golden and it surely doesn’t mean consent, so start practicing the art of communication.”
― T.D. Jakes.
There may be moments when silence does not seem golden at all and you are cringing with embarrassment!
You know that good answers are expected but there may also be lulls in the conversation on both sides so it is best to have a few tricks up your sleeve.
A great way to take the pressure off you is just to ask a simple question. Gives you a bit of breathing space. Why do you have to do all the talking? These are good questions:-
· What role will this position play in the company’s mission?
· What would you hope I would achieve in the first six months in the job?
· What is your policy on working from home?
· Can you tell me about the team I would be working with?
· What is the biggest issue your company is facing right now?
5. How to deal with the jitters
Prayer or meditation can help to calm these.
Eat some protein beforehand such as a banana, nuts or oatmeal to keep you focused and alert. The great thing about these lean proteins is that they can help blood sugar levels stable. That really can be a lifesaver. It also prevents your stomach from rumbling which could be very embarrassing.
Avoid those chewing gum and sweets which may contain sorbitol. This substance can lead to unwanted gas. The same problem occurs when you gulp down a carbonated drink in order to give yourself an energy boost. You have enough to cope with!
Coffee will help to keep you on the ball. If you have too many coffees though, it may have the opposite effect in that you can get a bit jittery. It is also a diuretic so keep that in mind.
I find that breathing in gently through my nose for three seconds and then breathing out again also can help to calm me down.
I find that the best way of all is to be well-prepared and arrive in good time. I know exactly where to go and how to get there and I am leaving some extra time for unexpected glitches.
6. Get some exercise
Exercise really helps to calm you down. Think about parking your car further away or leaving public transport at an earlier stop. Then, get some exercise and this may just be walking. I know some recruiters who recommend running up and down a few flights of stairs!
Just look at what exercise can do for you. It reduces the stress hormones such as cortisol. At the same time, it can release endorphins which are the greatest mood booster ever!
If you don’t believe me, read the Harvard article here on the great benefits of exercise.
7. You have an interview plan
Of course, you cannot tell how the interview will go and what unexpected questions or developments there might be. However, you have a plan and make sure you follow it as far as you can without taking over the whole interview.
The plan will cover the questions you expect to be asked and also the ones you want to ask. Make notes about these latter ones so that you can refer to them during the interview. You can keep these together with a spare copy of your resume which is always useful to have with you.
If you are lucky enough to know who your interviewers are, find out as much as you can and have some questions you can ask them about how they achieved their goals and how they coped with a particular challenge.
“If heaven really exists: then heaven is the job, hell is unemployment, while life is merely an interview.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
I wrote about interview hacks in this post here.