As a Career Coach, one of the first things I hear when I run one-to-one interview skills training is, ”I hate selling myself, I’m just no good at interviews”.
This is perfectly understandable. From a very young age, we observe how people in our society are judged harshly if they come across as ”too up-themselves”. To vocalise too much confidence in oneself is often perceived as a bad trait. So, we conform and act modestly.
But what happens when you need to sell yourself for an interview?
The whole system goes against the grain. It feels so uncomfortable, so disconnected from how we would like to be seen. We pride ourselves in our honesty and the hiring process just feels so false. In turn, the fear starts mounting and we get a real feeling that this will never work. ”I don’t want to do this I don’t like talking about myself!” Sound familiar?
Here are some very important tips to help you to overcome your fear of interviews.
It’s not about you
One of the most important things you can do is reframe how you are looking at interviews. Take the spotlight off yourself and place it on the interviewers. They are the ones tasked with the difficult role of deciding who is the best person for the job. In order to do this, they must first decide what the ideal candidate will be like. Your role is to find out exactly what they want.
Focus on what they want by going through the job description with a fine toothcomb.
- What are the different arms to the role?
- Is there anything overemphasised?
- Are there any important industry terms, policies, legislation etc. mentioned?
- What are the current and future challenges and opportunities associated with the role/organisation?
- Speak to someone in your network with knowledge of the role or organisation if you can to dig deeper.
Bag of stories
Once you are clear on what they want, start working out how you meet those needs. Put yourself in the shoes of the interviewer, what would you want to know?
Make the interviewers job as easy as possible by having stories at the ready that are on par with the needs of the job. For example, if problem-solving is a large part of the role, talk about a time that you solved a similar type of problem to show you have the right level of experience.
Don’t forget to structure your stories in a way that is easy to understand. The STAR method is an excellent way to structure your answers.
Listen to the questions asked
Before you answer a question ask yourself, what are they asking me and why are they asking me that? This is the key to your answer. Put the focus on their need and this will help them to feel heard, respected and understood. This, in turn, will lead to a better connection and hopefully a job offer.
When interviewees learn answers off by heart they can come across as wooden. However, when interviewees speak from the heart their tone and body language match what they are saying allowing their real personality to shine through. Don’t try and be a BBC presenter, be yourself that is what will get you the job!
Practice out loud or better yet record yourself on your phone or laptop. Play it back and ask yourself, what did I do well and what would I improve upon? Work with a professional interview skills trainer to gain objective feedback and/or practice with someone you trust at home. The more comfortable you are about what you want to say and why you want to say it, the more confident and prepared you will feel.
Don’t expect to feel completely at ease going into an interview. It is perfectly normal to have a mixed bag of emotions such as anxiety, fear, excitement etc. That’s okay. Some of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences in life come from feeling the fear and doing it anyway.