Do you absolutely loathe job interviews? Does the word “interview’ send a decidedly ugly chill down your spine? Do you experience a complete mind freeze when prospective employers start asking questions?
Most people put job interviewing on the top of their ‘not-so-favorite’ list of things that we all have to do. It’s a necessary evil in a career, and for most, it becomes a much-feared process.
The secret to nailing successful interviews has everything to do with attitude. If you let fear rule you, it will. Candidates who have the best results in this arena are those that have the right mindset when they approach the interviewing process. Can you imagine a successful CEO going into an interview with sagging confidence levels, worried about their credentials, and being stressed about how they might answer a question? Certainly not! Being confident and having a positive attitude should make you actually anticipate interviews…this is the point in the job search process where a person should be the most excited about a prospective position and show why they are the best fit. In short, this is when you get to ‘rock and roll’!
Instead, most job searchers get caught in the possibility of “What if I do a bad job interviewing?” or “What if I don’t have the skills they need?” which initiates feelings of fear and self-doubt, and can effectively lead to a less-than-stellar interview performance. This, in turn, impacts your answers. Many job seekers end up feeling like they are defending themselves in an interview, rather than showing how their career assets can benefit a prospective employer. This is the wrong approach – it’s all about the attitude adjustment.
Here are a few secrets taken from the CEO interview rule book on how to portray yourself as the top candidate in this part of the job search process:
1) Engineer a completely different mindset on how you approach interviews.
Believe it or not, I am one of those crazy people who absolutely LOVES the interviewing process. My attitude is: “Hit me with your best shot.” I see this as a learning experience on how I can think on my feet while under fire. There is no such thing as a BAD interview experience; it is what you do with it that determines how the next one goes.
How many times have you realized afterwards that there were some questions that you could have answered better? The key is to write that question down and add it to your interviewing arsenal so you nail it the next time. This has proven to be an invaluable way of gaining insight into the answers I provided, and assessing how strong and relevant they were to the interviewer’s questions. Learning from your previous mistakes are very powerful lessons indeed.
2) Know your value.
To get started in reshaping your interview attitude, you need to understand and be centered on your value. What is it that you offer that beats out the competition? Why should the employer hire you over the next person standing in line behind you? The résumé development process is a good way to work this out. Building value statements and showing action then results really provides a hiring manager a good roadmap of what you are able to accomplish. The critical part is to get those value statements on paper and then ingrain them into your psyche, allowing yourself the opportunity to really feel and understand what you have to offer to prospective employers. Once completed, you are now ready to go sit in the interview hot seat. After all, this is about selling yourself. The best sales people are ones who believe in what they are selling. If you don’t believe in yourself or know your value, you sure as heck aren’t going to sell employer on yourself as a candidate!
3) Do the research.
Doing your research about a company is another way to gain confidence in the interview process. The more knowledge you have about a company, the more literate you are in their corporate culture and background.
Understanding employer viewpoints, concerns, challenges, and opportunities will help shape your answers. Some employers have outright asked me, “What do you know about us?” or “Why do you want this job?” The more detail you can provide about the employer in answering these types of questions, the more resourceful you come across as being by having done your homework. This plays to your competence and gives you the boost of self-assurance that can propel you to being the top candidate. Plus, it feels pretty awesome to knock an employer’s socks off with some obscure fact about their company they would’ve never guessed that you knew!
4) Tell a story to make a point.
Being a master storyteller is also part of the magic formula for knocking the interview out of the proverbial ball park. If you are providing static, robotic, and formulaic answers to questions, that doesn’t give employers any insight to your approach, experience, resourcefulness, or expertise. Responding to interview questions and providing concrete, highly relevant answers that demonstrate your ability to execute job duties in the form of a story are probably the most convincing way to win over employers.
Gather up potential interview questions and then quiz yourself on how you would answer each. Then think about a specific story that you can cite that demonstrates how you solved problems or made a difference in the company. These are your story points, and are critical to painting the picture of how your skill sets and experience can benefit the potential employer.
5) Practice public speaking.
Does the mere thought of getting in front of an interview panel make you break out into a sweat? Toastmasters International is a phenomenal proving ground where you can grow your public speaking skills in a welcoming, supportive environment. If you are not comfortable presenting to others, this is an imperative skill to master before heading off to an interview. Toastmasters International is a great place to take some of the sting out of public speaking and grow your comfort zone within an interview setting. By getting more experience speaking on the fly and talking in front of groups, this will improve your abilities to come across as extremely succinct and polished in interviews.
Overall, when it comes down to reality, CEOs walk into interviews brimming with confidence, ideas and optimism, and you can too! The truth is, you are the CEO of Yourself, Inc. You are a unique sum of your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities, and shifting your whole mindset about job interviews can radically change this from a scary, distasteful process to an uplifting, fun experience.
Now go knock your next interview out of the ball park!