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  • Writer's pictureMC Mendez

Owning that job interview

Job interviews are stressful for many, because they are filled with expectations, vulnerability and the unknown. That is why preparing yourself for such events will allow you to go to interviews more serene and with a better idea of ​​what you can bring to the table and what you want to get out of them.

Among all the elements causing this stress, we find things like “The fear of not being up to the task, of not knowing how to answer certain questions or worse of answering off the mark”, “The fear of having an uncompromising panel with people hard to convince ","The fear of drawing a blank and losing it"," The fear of not knowing how to sell oneself "etc ...

Just the thought of them, whether they might happen or not, will cripple more than one. And this is where we have a little precious leeway. The only thing we can do when preparing for an interview is to act on the things over which we have control. So here is a list of things you can already prepare to make sure you are in the best possible conditions when the big day comes.

Focus on presentation and what to wear.

Opt for something in line with the job and also take your own comfort into consideration. Interviews are awkward and uncomfortable enough as it is.

Look into the logistics ahead of the interview.

Find out exactly where the interview will take place and with whom. (Take a note of all participants’ names). Work out how long it will take you to get there and how and allow for unexpected problems (Traffic jams, public transport strikes or technical failures etc…). On the day, write down on a piece of paper the address along with a contact name and phone number in case your phone quits on you for lack of battery or otherwise. If you encounter a problem you will still be able to get in touch with them. Work out any other logistics that might be more specific to your field. If you need to print or present something in person make sure it will be ready on time.

Do your research on the company and your future panel if you know who they are.

If not, don’t be afraid to ask who will attend the interview. Google, websites and many social media are of big help here. Check any information and profile you can find so you can show you have taken an interest. This is also an opportunity for you to find out more about the company, rather than the job, and determine if it still appeals to you.

Practice as many questions as possible with a professional or without.

If you do this on your own, think of questions related to your craft or field. Go back to the job description and see what kind of questions could stem from there in order to identify the best candidate. Then practice the typical but important questions such as “Why should we hire you in particular?” (Think of your skills and personality traits that fit the bill), “How do you deal with stress?”, “What are your major weaknesses?”, “Where do you want to be in 5 or 10 years?”, “What motivates you?”, “Describe your ideal boss?” etc…

The advantage of preparing this part with a professional is that they will have an array of questions to practice from and normally they will be able focus on the ones you find the hardest. They will give you a comprehensive feedback, taking your personality, needs and expectations into consideration, so you can have another go. And having answered it out loud a few times to another person anchors the information in your brain. You’ll be able to tap into that memory later on, making answering that question, or a similar one, a lot easier during the actual interview. It’s also an opportunity to make mistakes in a friendly environment with no stakes. It’s better to sort out any problems or hurdles prior to the interview. That’s what preparation is for.

Also many people hate “selling themselves”. I think the problem is with the term “selling” rather than being at your best. The goal of an interview was never to cheat people into thinking you’re someone that you’re not. You can of course attend an interview with that mind frame, some people do, and it can be legitimate, especially in a situation where getting a job is more important (financially) than being the right person for the job.

Here I am speaking more to those of you who want to get a specific job because it matches your skills or your ambitions. In this case, the idea is not to "sell yourself" or "to lie" but "to bring the best version of yourself" to this interview. And to find the best version of yourself, all you have to do is tap into all that you have and all that is already within you. No need to complicate things and ponder on all kinds of wacky ploys!

Address your biggest fears prior to the interview and work on those.

These differ depending on each person. Some fear drawing a blank on a question. Others are afraid of babbling on forever and losing panel members in the process. Others feel highly uncomfortable with intimidating techniques some interviewers may use. No matter what you’re dreading, you’re not going to magically transform between the moment you prepare and the interview. No matter the fear, face it, name it, acknowledge it and deconstruct it. What is it you really fear in the situation? How does it manifest? Why do you have that feat? What are the real risks? What’s at stake for you in that moment? What would you need to face it? What resources would you need to counter this fear or put it aside for the duration of your interview? Etc… The idea is to know the fear and to recognize it when it comes and practice reacting if it does materialize.


Decide to be the best version of yourself for a few hours.

Not someone else. Yourself. Be honest without putting spanners in the works! Be yourself in a controlled manner that fits the context. If you make mistakes, own them and move on. Trust your preparation and what you know.

If you tend to go from one thought to another, own it the moment you realize and just say, "Ah! Here I am jumping from one thing to another, let's get back to your question "and off you go! You are who you are, no need to apologize. Take full responsibility, it will be liberating during the interview. Even if you forgot to turn off your phone and it rings during the meeting! The blunder is made. Again, own it. Switch off your phone as quickly as possible and continue "What a rookie mistake!" Let's resume… ”. Don’t dwell on it, negative thoughts at that moment will only get in the way.

At the end of the day the interview is there for the employer to understand who you are and to determine whether you’ll fit into their team, not only according to your skill but also to the kind of person you are. Take into consideration as well that you’re also interviewing them! Are they the right employer for you? This is the perfect opportunity to find out.

If you’ve already lived through a burnout and all the questions you’re getting are focused on stress, heavy workloads and availability during evenings and weekends, alarm bells should be chiming high and loud! Again this is in a situation where urgency and financial dire straits are not the sole motivation for getting the job. Be careful to keep your needs in mind and that the job will be ecological to you.

Finally, take into account that an interview is a moment in time. A snapshot. It’s going to happen the way it’s going to happen. Should you do that same interview a few days later it would be different because it’s a human process and that you, as well as the other participants, will bring the energy and mood of the day.

Once the interview is over, debrief it if necessary and then let go, because the rest is out of your control. What is done is done. Could you have done better? Maybe, maybe not. What is certain is that to do differently would have been impossible since that is how you did it! And then, what does it matter since it's already over. Either way, you will have completed your mission to the best of your ability and energy at that moment!

If your interview is to take place via zoom, don’t hesitate to read the blog post that gives extra details about that! In the meantime, happy interviewing! And if you need help in your preparation I'll be happy to assist ! ;-)

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