Interviews can be frustrating experiences. Although the conversation is somewhat ‘flowing’ (or somebody is bombarding you with questions), so many things are left in the unspoken that it sets nerves-a-flowing. We know we are being judged, and that leaves us feeling uncomfortable and unable to fully be ourselves.
Believe it or not, most people don’t know what it is that they need to improve upon to blow their competition out of the water. Often, HR Managers, hiring managers and recruiters don’t go into detail regarding your specific improvement points, and so the vicious cycle continues. This is where interview coaching comes in.
No matter what you think about your own interview skills, you have blind spots which you don’t actually see. And it’s in those blind spots that sits what needs to change, to get you the job!
Firstly, what I see in many of my clients is that their ‘raison d’etre’ (reason for existence) of interviews needs to change in their mind. I remind them of this: “YOU are as much interviewing the hiring manager, as they are interviewing you”. This is also the best way to calm those nerves.
No more wondering why the interviewer is staring back at you blankly. Be in control of the conversation. Tell them about your experience like you were talking to your friend (in a more professional manner though) and don’t seek their validation with each response. It’s ok to use your charm and wit (this is what good interviewees do). And above all, tell the truth. This will make it much easier for you to prepare. When you tell the truth, you don’t have to memorise anything, which is HUGELY important. It will make your life MUCH easier.
Interviewers will drill you, but they only do this to candidates that give in to their tactics. It’s ok for you to ask questions of your interviewer. It’s normal for you to be wanting to ‘suss’ out whether this is the right place for you to work. Afterall, you’ll be spending 8 hours of your day there, 5 days per week.
Along with interview coaching by a HR professional that can really nut out what’s in your way of getting your ideal role, here are 8 ways to super-charge your interview skills and sky-rocket your performance in interviews:
- Interviews are a learnt skill. Repetition is required.
- Find a group of like-minded people who also have an interest in interview coaching.
- Invest time each week to learning keywords on your resume.
- Practice talking about your work experience.
- Expect questions on capabilities, and prepare relevant examples.
- Practice interviewing in front of somebody you admire who interviews people in their line of work.
- Book in those recruiters for interviews.
- Tell the interviewer you are nervous.
Firstly, don’t be hard on yourself. You’re not expected to be a superstar interviewee right away. With time, practice and perseverance it will become easier. For some, it becomes second nature. Once you stop expecting perfection, you’ll find that things flow much better too.
There’s definitely one in your local area. Sometimes they’re called meet-up groups. These are a great way to share your nerves about interviewing with others. It might help to get another outsider’s opinion, most people will be willing to share their achievements and pains with you. And hey, if nothing else comes of it, it may help to know that you’re not the only person in that situation.
This is important, because questions will be asked based on what you’ve written in your resume. You need to be able to back up each responsibility and achievement with an explanation. Make a commitment to yourself, that you will talk to yourself aloud, write notes over and over again, or do whatever works for you as a learning mechanism to become the best you can be at talking about your experience in those terms. Stick to your plan too.
What did you do in each role? Say it aloud over and over. What were you really good at? Don’t stop practicing until you get to the point that you’d be able to answer these questions if somebody woke you at 3am to interview you.
You will need to have at least 2 examples handy of times that you’ve demonstrated each capability in your previous roles. Think about what qualities and characteristics the hiring manager would be looking for, and ensure that you can show them that you ARE that person. Repeat, even when you think you know it all.
Organise a date and time for a mock interview. Dress up as you would when going to an interview and treat it like it were the real deal (having them ask you questions and you answer). Insist on honest and genuine feedback. Don’t forget to acknowledge your friend’s time – perhaps by buying them a coffee or lunch.
Yes, that’s right. The more the merrier (interviews, that is). Don’t worry about what they’re thinking. You are learning. There are plenty more recruiters out there that will help you find a job. In the beginning, your main task is to learn to interview with them. Take the time to watch their reactions to you. Ask for constructive criticism and learn from what worked and what didn’t work.
I find that when you are honest and authentic about what you’re dealing with and share it with the other person, often the nerves fall away into nothingness and you perform much better. It can be a great ice-breaker too!