By: Jack Kelly
Purchasing a new home, getting married, having a baby and both finding and starting a new job are reported to be the most anxiety-inducing events in a person’s life. I’ll leave the baby making and home buying to others, but I’d like to help you with the job part.
If you are between jobs, of a certain age, with the weight of financial responsibilities on your shoulders, it can be incredibly stressful to interview. You are terrified about never finding another comparable well-paying job again. The fear of having to forsake a comfortable white-collar job for a position as a greeter at Walmart or worker at Home Depot is overwhelming. Even if you’re happy with where you are, but desire a new and better opportunity, it’s understandable to be anxious. Your boss could find out and possibly fire you for being perceived as disloyal. The process is like dating or when you were a little kid in elementary school trying to make new friends—you become a sweaty, nervous and disheveled mess.
Please allow me to help alleviate the tension with some easy and practical ideas that you can immediately implement. The more you research, prepare and practice, the more relaxed, confident and empowered you will become. There is a direct positive correlation between the time put into the pre-interview phase and the enhanced amount of confidence and comfort you will have going into the meetings.
The first step is to spend a large amount of time researching and understanding the company. Think of it like putting together a report for a college-level paper—except this is easier. You don’t need footnotes or to be grammatically correct. Look up the interviewers on LinkedIn to learn about them. Search for these people on other social media platforms to see if you can learn more about their personal lives to form a connection.
Read the job description closely. Make sure that your résumé clearly addresses the needs and wants of the job description, so that when you disperse it at the interview, the interviewers realize the fit right away. Familiarize yourself with the company’s products, services, business models, achievements and mission statement. Google the company to ascertain if there are any issues or problems surrounding the company. Speak with friends, colleagues and associates who know about the company, have insider connections and could share some tips.
It’s important to prepare and practice for the interview. Develop an elevator pitch, which will enable you to sell yourself in a minute or so. Refine the pitch by saying it out loud and in front of someone who can offer actionable feedback. Think of the questions that could be asked and then practice answering them. Engage in role playing an interview scenario with someone else who will be honest with their criticisms.
Freshen up your LinkedIn profile to ensure it reflects the job you’re interviewing for. Add bullet points that specifically address the needs of the job. If you are working with a recruiter, meet with her before the interview to practice. Ask your recruiter for a mind dump to learn everything she knows about the job, organization and interviewers. Inquire as to why the job is open and what the incumbent is currently doing now. Is there a lot of turnover? Are people being promoted? You want to know as much as possible as to why the position is available, why the person left the job, the expectations of the hiring manager and how you can add value.
Get ready and prepare several days in advance of the interview. Choose your clothing, plan out how you’re going to get there, make sure you have all of the correct contact information and the interview location. Take anything questionable off of your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Scrub your social media presence to remove any inappropriate postings that do not enhance your brand.
On your way to the interview, chat with anyone you meet, so you can loosen up. Avoid drinking too much coffee, as it will make you wired. Ensure that you get a good night’s sleep. Bring with you more copies of your résumé and business cards than the amount of people you are meeting with. Eat a little before the interview. Drink some water, but not too much, so that you don’t get the urge to use the bathroom in the middle of the interview. Arrive early to the interview, but don’t go right in. Walk around the block to clear your head and get the blood flowing. Once you enter the building, look for a restroom to check yourself out in the mirror and quickly brush your hair and groom yourself. Pop a mint to freshen your breath. Wipe off your sweaty palms and turn off your phone.
While waiting in the lobby, take some deep breaths. Breathe in to the count of four, hold for two seconds, then release to the count of four. Do this a couple of more times to calm down. Smile, stand up straight and tall, pull your shoulders back and hold your head up high. Look the interviewer directly in their eyes and offer a firm handshake.
By following this advice, your fears should be ameliorated. You’ll go into the interview feeling calm, cool, collected and confident. There will always be a little bit of the butterflies—and that’s fine. Being a little nervous gets the adrenaline flowing and will amp you up.
Walk in with a confident stride, playing your favorite upbeat tune in your head—to serve as your winning theme song.