Interviewing can be stressful. Walking into the building, rolling the dice hoping to avoid a first time interviewer cruelly expressing their new power. Hoping the people given temporary influence over potential future employment see instant value, and on the spot, issue an informal letter of intent to hire. But interview after interview, the offer letters continue to skip the inbox. After checking the spam folder, snail mail, and voicemail, the conclusion of another failed interview is to be assumed. But what went wrong? What can be improved? How can they not see the potential that friends and family praise daily? Here are some steps to identify problems and develop interviewing skills:
- Take a comedy class (Believe me, it works!!)
- Find the most aggressive and most brutally honest friend, and practice interviewing
- Use a webcam and record yourself answering the questions
- Replay each interview in your head and try to identify areas where you became chatty or flustered
- Write out the questions asked in previous interviews and prepare three answers to each
- Take a picture of yourself in your interview attire
- Research every job posting for the company, especially the jobs that you are not applying for
- Look up the public profiles of your interviewers
Did he just say take a comedy class?
Comedy can be one of the scariest adventures a brave soul can attempt. Allowing oneself to be surrounded by sarcastic people trying to leverage their anger and quick wit into a career worth millions of dollars can be terrifying. But for those brave enough, hands-on training in the following areas will forever improve skills needed to pass any interview, even the ones applicants are not qualified for.
- Reading the crowd
- Recovering from getting flustered
- Adapting to a live-changing environment
- Aquire techniques for controlling the crowd
- Understanding people’s current emotional state and developing the ability to alter the state
- Determine how to become likable
Why the most aggressive an brutally honest friend, wouldn’t Mom be better?
Interviewing can be stressful. Without warning, emotions flare, and the mumbling starts. Questions are not fully understood, and presenting knowledge in a field studied and mastered for years turns in a late night episode of I Love Lucy. Emotional preparation is the area that receives the least amount of preparation.
Compliments and validations from the people who care about feelings and self-esteem become false confidence, and will likely contribute to failure. Honesty is the only answer. Identifying weaknesses is the only way to identify what is destroying all hopes of career advancement. When the brutal friend is finished identifying why new employment has slipped passed time and time again, take a few minutes and allow what they tell you to sink in. Accept the harsh reality of where the weaknesses lie, and then decide on one of two strategies:
- Fix the weakness
- Compensate for the weakness
Fix the weakness:
Fixing the weakness seems like the logical choice, but this is not always the right decision. If the weakness is something that you are seriously willing to commit to fixing, and the benefit will be well worth the effort, then this may be your solution. Time may not allow for this, as employment may be needed immediately. If the weakness can be fixed or strengthened with a proper return on investment for the time and resources, then do it. If the return on investment is not worth it, search for a coping mechanism that will accomplish the same goal.
Compensate for the weakness:
If the weakness is sweaty palms before a handshake, a simple solution is baby powder and a sweat rag. Do not spend the time trying to surgically alter your sweat glands
Can’t stop mumbling during interviews? Whenever you feel the urge to mumble or the answer was delivered in a river of verbal diarrhea, try asking the interviewer questions about the company or the environment. Condition yourself to ask questions and listen when you feel the urge to talk. Without consistent work, this will not be a long-term behavioral change, but it may allow you time to mentally gain control of your verbosity.
Develop a short-term coping mechanism or trick to help you counter a behavior, habit, or deficiency that is holding you back. This only has to be a short-term trick to get you hired. If this deficiency is why you’re looking for a new job, develop a long-term coping mechanism or seek assistance in solving the issue.
Record yourself answering the questions (Just don’t post it to YouTube)
Honesty is the road to employment salvation. There will never be a more honest critic than your webcam. State the question you are going to answer, then answer as if you were in the interview. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did I portray myself in a likable and friendly way?
- Was I pleasant to watch?
- Did I annoy myself?
- Were the answers presented in a clear, friendly, and easy to listen manner?
- What did my interview attire, haircut, and manicure look like from the outside?
In past interviews where did it go bad?
Try to identify the moment when the emotions started and logic ceased to exist. When did great answers turn into foolish guessing and sweaty palms. What were you feeling or thinking as the interview slipped into the archives of negative experiences. By finding the triggers that started the descent, you can develop counter triggers to adapt in your next interview.
Write out the questions asked in previous interviews and write three answers to each
Three answer are the minimum amount required to learn how to adapt. Obsessive compulsive fixating on a thousand answers is better. but these three are minimum:
- Professional, technical, and expressive.
- Technical yet slightly personal.
- Overly personal, minimum required to answer the question.
By understanding the three levels of answers, greater adaptability is possible depending on the interviewer. As the tone of the interview changes, you can adapt according to the changing environment.
Take a picture of yourself in your interview attire
Of course you are the sexiest person to ever walk the planet. No matter what you wear, it will be wonderful. But the sexiness you see is not what everyone else sees. Look at the picture as if it were not you. Look at the clothing and see if they match. Is the attire professional for the desired position? After you are satisfied, show the picture to your friends and ask the same questions. When your friends agree, then you have the correct attire and grooming for the interview. [Warning, do not ask crazy or complimentary friends. They will lie to you!]
Research every job post for the company
Preparation for an interview includes knowledge of the company. By reading the keywords in every job post, you will better understand what the company provides, how they provide it, and the type of people they are looking to hire. By reviewing other job posts, it will also be able to identify the overall image the company is looking for in the employees they want to hire. There will be a theme throughout the job posts. Look for misspelled words as well as the type of language they use to entice future candidates. You will get a feel for the corporate environment. Important questions to ask include:
- Are they selling the company environment as a place you would like to work?
- Do the ads give off an elitist feel?
- How detailed are the postings and what does that mean about the company?
Do not Facebook or Google stalk, but get an idea of your interviewers
Knowing a little about your interviewers can give you an advantage in the interview. If Shelly has three poodles and has anti-cat campaigns on Facebook, then a conversation about your dog and the menacing cats in the neighborhood can provide a nice opener. If Brenda loves Linux and hates Windows, then have a conversation about open source and how “Linux Rocks!!!” can build a connection that will put you on the right path for possible employment.
Recap time 🙂
Take a comedy class! No joke! Comedy will teach presentation skills, reading the crowd, adapting in intimidation environments, and being the cool person at the party. Find a friend who values honesty and will truly help you identify what you do well, and what needs improvement. Record yourself — it will be just as beneficial as the honest friend. Identify your weaknesses and decide if they should be fixed or compensated for in the short term. Take a picture of yourself in your interview attire and ask if that is a person that you would like to hire. If not, adapt your style into the person you want to hire. Get as much information about the company as possible by looking at all job postings. Try to figure out the overall theme and environment of the company, and prepare your interview to match. Don’t stalk your interviewers, but find out as much as possible to ensure the best possibility of success.
And remember to have fun. There are more jobs out there if this one doesn’t work out!!!