- Keep internal dialogue kind
- Get comfortable talking about yourself
- Listen to hear, not respond
- Staying upbeat
- Go with the flow and let it go
When we are searching for that next career opportunity it’s super easy to get in our head. We get in our head about everything and anything, but it’s the interview process that tends to stress us out. We are ridden with stress and anxiety about what to wear, what to say, and how to prepare for questions. All this trying to be a certain way, can put a damper on us bringing our most authentic selves to what should be a really simple, friendly conversation.
Interviews feel scary for a lot of people. It’s like we are auditioning for an upcoming hit movie and we want to land the lead part. We may even feel like we need to be chosen because it feels like our finances and life are on the line.
Stress can easily consume us and take over our minds and body. If we end up rambling on a tangent or sweating profusely during an interview, we know that isn’t going to leave the lasting impression we are hoping for, and it probably won’t lead to an offer. That’s why it’s important to keep calm and carry on so you can think positive, be yourself, put your best foot forward, and rest assured that if the position is meant to be, it will be.
It’s normal to be a bit nervous for an interview, but there are ways to ensure we keep our cool and an optimistic mindset. An interview is a chance for an employer to get to know us and see how we demonstrate the skills we boast about on our resume. That being said, it’s easy to expect the best outcome from an interview when we can feel proud of how we prepared, and how we showed up. Preparation goes beyond making sure we’ve crossed all our T’s and are punctual for the meeting.
Here are some ways you can maintain your composure and an optimistic outlook when it comes to that next big interview.
- Keep it Kind – Sometimes our mind has a mind of its own, am I right? That voice, our life’s narrator, sometimes has a mean streak. During a job search or interview process, you have to keep that little voice in check! Keep it kind. It’s easy to hop on the complaint train, or start comparing ourselves and then trash-talking ourselves, so we have to make being kind to ourselves the number one priority. Shift that internal voice to be your biggest fan! Make them praise and compliment you non-stop. If you were getting a friend excited for a new opportunity, what would you say? You’d probably tell them they were awesome, that no one can do what they can do, that if these people don’t choose them it would be their loss. Get in the habit of saying kind things to yourself non-stop. That boost of motivation and confidence we are all looking for comes from the inside.
- Get Comfortable Talking About Yourself – I’ve heard many people say that interviews make them nervous because they hate talking about themselves. To this, I ask why? Don’t you think you are special? Do you believe you bring unique gifts and talents to an organization? The interview truly is your time to shine! Of course, there is a boundary between speaking strongly and confidently to your skills and experiences, versus being overly boastful. Practice telling your story, or “personal pitch”. Most employers want to know who you are, where you are from, how you started in your industry, and how you got to where you are now. Giving a broad overview of your background is where most interviews begin. The people who are interviewing you want to know how you ended up in their office, why you are interested in the position you have applied for, and why hiring you is the right choice for them to make. If you can confidently articulate your background and why you are a match for their job opening, the interview will feel like a walk in the park. Spending some time practicing your pitch will set you up for success big time.
- Listen to Hear, Not to Respond – Other than an interview (and maybe a first date), there aren’t many situations where we will sit down and be required to answer questions about ourselves. Now that we are comfortable talking about ourselves, we need to be prepared to engage in active listening during the interview, so we can be sure we give appropriate and relevant answers to the questions being asked. Staying present and focused on what the interviewer is asking, instead of what we think they are asking is crucial. Make sure to listen to the entire question before offering a response. It’s okay to take some time to formulate your answer, or even ask them to repeat the question. Likewise, it is also okay to reframe the question back to them and clarify what they are asking. Just like any conversation we have to be present to get the most benefit. When it comes to interviewing, listening is the key to any great answer.
- Stay Upbeat – Keeping your energy light and upbeat during an interview is always your best feature. You know that feeling, like you, are ready to take on the day and nothing is going to kill your vibe? That’s the feeling to hold on to in an interview! You are there so this employer can get to know you, and so you can get to know them. Staying in your best high vibe energy that showcases your true authentic self, is going to radiate irresistible energy and demonstrate how easy you will connect with other team members in their organization. It is always candidates who are upbeat and have friendly energy and disposition, that leave a lasting impression and are strong contenders for an offer.
- Go with the Flow and Let it Go – Once the interview is over, again, that inner dialogue can start yammering on with a bunch of nonsense. Often it begins analyzing everything that took place; what the hiring manager said, what they asked, what they didn’t ask, what you said, how you answered (or didn’t answer) specific questions. Our stress levels start to rise and we become frozen with anxiety thinking we bombed; of course, we did, and there is no way we are going to get an offer. The thing is, none of that internal conversation with yourself is helpful. It only makes you feel more stressed. Interviews are just like anything else. The more you do them, the better you feel about them. Some are going to go well and you are going to have an incredible connection with the interviewer. Some are no doubt going to be super awkward. It’s always great to feel a connection with the interviewer, but that isn’t necessarily indicative of getting an offer, or not. We have to keep an open mind throughout this process and stop ourselves from going down the slippery slope of over-analyzing, ruminating, and of course, catastrophizing. Go with the flow, make sure you bring your best self, and then let it go. The decision of whether we get a job offer is never in our hands, but we can choose to give ourselves credit for how we showed up, and know that when the right opportunity comes about, it will come to fruition in the best possible way.
We have the power to either create additional stress for ourselves or ease the burden of stress during times where we need to stay present and show up authentically. The interview process is one of those times when we need to cut through the tension and stay grounded. If we can be kind to ourselves, get comfortable speaking to our strengths, focus on the conversation, stay upbeat, and go with the flow, we can allow ourselves to truly shine (stress-free) when it matters most.
About the Author
Kimberly Smith is a Resiliency Coach and founder of Encompass Coaching. She is a native New Yorker, proud Houstonian, truth seeker, mental health advocate, yogi, and mother.
Through coaching services, speaking, and writing, Kimberly helps busy, ambitious, and overworked people who are stressed to the max, get a grip so they can build mental stamina, increase energy and resilience, excel personally and professionally, and move confidently through life’s challenges and transitions.
Kimberly has a BA in Sociology and Psychology, is an internationally certified life and career coach, and spent 10 years in corporate talent acquisition for a variety of industries. She is a servant leader passionate about dissolving the stigma around mental health, and dedicated to empowering others to live more authentic lives full of passion, purpose, courage, freedom and adventure.
For a free eBook ‘The Gift of Calm’, and more information on working with Kimberly visit: www.encompasscoachingservices.com