Will Reduce That Pre-interview Anxiety
There are several ways to
reduce pre-interview anxiety to a manageable level. Here are
ten concrete steps to present yourself in a confident,
assured manner while increasing the probability that you’ll
be invited back for subsequent interviews, or for raising
the probability of a formal offer being extended to you.
First, be prepared. Your degree of preparation speaks
volumes about your interest level and conscientiousness. In
addition to increasing your confidence, solid preparation
will help you give articulate answers and ask pertinent
To make the best case for your candidacy for a particular
job, you need to be prepared with information about yourself
AND about the job, company, and field. Keep this concept
firmly in mind: If you don’t find out what your prospective
employer’s problems, there’s no way to project yourself as
the candidate best able to solve them.
Second, interview companies for your job - don’t let them
interview you. In the final analysis, you don’t’ get a job,
you pick one. For most job seekers, this is an important
attitudinal distinction. Many of us forget that the decision
to accept a position is far more critical for us than it is
for the employer. If they find that they have made a
mistake, they just go through the recruiting process again.
For the individual, you have just invested a portion of your
professional lifetime that is gone forever. When you look at
it that way, the selection you make takes on a different
Third, your most valuable interviewing skill is listening.
By listening carefully, you communicate respect and focus
single-mindedly on the questions you are being asked, and
any hidden meanings that may lurk within them.
Fourth, keep interviewing. The tendency for many candidates
is to let up a little on job search efforts after they line
up one or two interviews. If you let up, and the expected
job offer does not materialize for one reason or another,
your pipeline is empty. Weeks could go by before you are
able to set up initial interviews at new-targeted companies,
with a concurrent erosion of your precious cash reserves -
not to mention confidence, self-esteem, and morale.
Fifth, try using props during interviews. Props are work
samples and other documents that display your talents,
reveal your style and make you a more memorable candidate.
For instance: Fashion models, graphic artists, ad agency
people typically present props and portfolios, but so do
carpenters by utilizing before and after pictures of recent
projects. Whenever possible, work these props into your
discussion; but never force them on the interviewer.
Sixth, statistics prove the person who is interviewed last
has the best chance of being hired. Why? Because the last
candidate benefits from all the previous applicants the
hiring authority has seen.
Previous interviews helps hiring managers to crystallize
their thinking and further define the position in their
mind. You only remember the great interview you had with the
hiring authority. You do not want to appear pushy or
desperate, so you wait … as the hiring authority meets other
candidates. But as time goes on, you are getting further and
further away from their new requirements.
When a representative of the company contacts you to set up
an interview, simply ask what times are available. Once you
have heard the times, select a time that will make you one
of the last applicants to be interviewed. As soon as a firm
time is established, start researching the company and
analyze what is important to the hiring authority. This way,
you not only increase your chances of getting the job but
also having the new job start smoothly.
Seventh, candor creates trust, not suspicion. A large
component of many interview questions is the search for
reassurance. Hiring people is difficult and mistakes are
costly. So, interviewers crave reassurance that you will fit
into the organization and solve the problems you are being
hired to address.
Most us have flat spots in our past, and some of the more
successful people among us have been through major failures.
These flat spots and failures can build strong and
insightful individuals. Whether an interviewer sees this
depends on how candid and articulate you answer their
Eighth, continually build common ground. When the initial
interviewer says that you are being advanced on to the
second interview, try to find out business philosophy and
information on the second interviewer. Ask a question like:
"Does this person feel the same way about (insert your key
issue) as you do?” You will get information you need to find
common ground with your next interviewer. A wise strategy on
your part would be to continue using this technique for each
Ninth, write down the questions you would find most
difficult to answer. Then practice answering them, using
either a VCR or cassette player to record what you say.
Listen for ways to make your answers more precise and
effective. Additionally, get 3-by-5 inch index cards and
write out interview questions. Place yourself in the
interviewer’s position. What kinds of questions would you
ask an applicant for this job? What would you be looking
for? Repeat the process until you are completely comfortable
with what you hear. This flash card and recording process is
time consuming – but it will give you the poise,
self-assurance, and confidence that you’re looking for.
Tenth, don’t suffer from negotiating impairment syndrome.
Unfortunately, many job seekers relinquish their negotiating
rights for such poor reason as:
The company said the salary was non-negotiable because the
starting pay was already budgeted.
I didn’t want to offend my new employer by holding out for
more money. Besides, it seemed to be a fair offer.
I can’t ask for a higher-than-offered salary right now; I
just came out of a bad situation (bankruptcy, termination,
I’ll wait until I‘ve had a chance to prove myself.
All of these responses have a “yes, but” quality. For
example: “Yes, I would have negotiated, but I’m currently
unemployed...or I’m a career changer...or I don’t have a
Job seekers who give “yes, but” excuses for accepting less
than they’re worth suffer from negotiating impairment
syndrome, which is characterized as a denial of
opportunities to negotiate for more money.
Joe Hodowanes, Career Strategy Advisor
J.M. Wanes & Associates
Joe Hodowanes, M.P.A., SPHR, is a nationally recognized
career coach, syndicated columnist, and president of
Tampa-based J.M. Wanes & Associates,
Wanes & Associates is a career coaching, outplacement, and
executive search firm specializing in executive-level
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