I recently had the great pleasure of being interviewed. That’s right, folks. I said “pleasure” and “interview” in the same sentence and I’m not being sarcastic. Although most of us hate the idea of being interviewed for a position that dozens of other candidates are vying for (especially in the current job market), I consider interviewing a rewarding experience. The biggest reward would be getting the job, but there are so many little rewards along the way to recognize and appreciate.
First of all, preparing a resume, cover letter and portfolio that gets you in the door for the interview is a huge reward. It means that all those words on paper were unique and impressive enough to stand out in a HUGE crowd (#PatOnTheBack). So, you sold yourself on paper. Congratulations. Practicing the skill of selling yourself in person is yet another reward. And, yes, selling yourself is a skill just as selling a product or service is a skill. The interviewer needs to know why they should hire YOU out of a potentially large pool of qualified candidates. If you’re confident in your ability to succeed in the position for which you’re applying and passionate about the type of work it requires, then selling yourself should be no problem. Just practice talking about your skills and accomplishments and the value your talents offer to the prospective employer. If it’s a good fit, this should come almost naturally. A great resume means nothing if you don’t have passion for the work. If your confidence and passion are lacking, you should probably seek other opportunities because that industry or position is just not the right place for you.
Even if you are in the right place and have a passion for the work, many of us get nervous about interviews. When you catch yourself feeling a little anxious, just take a second to pause and take a deep breath. Don’t overdo it though. Excessive heavy breathing isn’t comfortable for anyone. Just be you! It’s so simple! How can you be nervous being yourself? You do it all the time (hopefully). If you’re nervous being yourself, then we’ve got some bigger issues to tackle. Treat the interview like any everyday conversation you’d have with a colleague or friend. People recognize when you’re being genuine and they’ll feel more confident about hiring you because they’ll know the real you. No one wants to hire someone who simply put on a show during the interview and can’t deliver when they get in the door. Be yourself. Relax. Toss in a joke or two (if that’s who you are).
I know it’s easier to read about how to interview well than it is to put it into practice. Wait! That’s just it! Practice makes perfect. Well, no one is perfect. But you can come close to being a perfect interviewee by practicing. Practice your 60-second elevator speech, as a rockstar mentor of mine once put it (Get it? If you meet someone in an elevator you have limited time to tell them what you’re all about). Even though they’ve reviewed your resume, an interviewer will first ask you to sum it up for them. Tell your story about where you’ve been and what you’ve done in 60 seconds. But don’t memorize your resume line for line. Tell them something real. Remember that this is a conversation. Explain how you got to where you are, what you do now, and where you want to go. Another interview preparation tactic is to think of the questions you would ask if you were the interviewer. This is something I always do and every question I’ve ever thought I’d be asked, I’ve been asked. Because I was prepared, I knew exactly how to answer it.
All of this reminds me of “Oh, the Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. Here’s to hoping that all the places you go will eventually lead you to the right place; the place you’re most passionate about where you’ll do your best work. This will ‘create happy’ for you and the people you produce results for.
Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.
You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed.
You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you’ll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
I’m sorry to say so,
But, sadly it’s true,
That bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.
On and on you will hike,
And I know you’ll hike far and face up to your problems whatever they are.
You’ll get mixed up of course, as you already know.
You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact.
And remember that life’s a great balancing act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.
Will you succeed?
Yes you will indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)