You have sent in your CV and cover letter, waited, and received the fateful phone call. The company wants you to come in for an interview. Great! But, what now? An interview is a stressful and often scary experience for people, especially if they don’t possess a lot of experience, have social anxiety, or are in a tough spot. The drive to impress is strong and many often approach interviewing like a science.
Really. Search any assortment of key phrases in regards to preparing for an interview and you will read a dizzying array of articles that contradict each other, with some even recommending you provide cookie cutter responses that are rehearsed. Simply put, these articles fail to realize that interviewers are human beings and that an interview is ultimately there to determine whether or not you can walk as well as you can talk while fitting in with the team. No interview will be the same as another and many interviewers today make it a point to throw an unexpected question into the mix since they know many candidates rehearse their lines.
No matter what, your rehearsals will serve no purpose in these situations. Instead, you should focus on preparing yourself intellectually and emotionally for the interview. This is the most important moment of the job search and it can mean many different things. For example, is this interview simply to screen you or are you one of the few selected for consideration of the job? Will you be interviewed by multiple people over the course of several weeks?
Employers will often not tell you what the purpose of the interview is or they will conveniently not bring it up in hopes that you won’t either. Expecting a job offer at the end of the interview is a poor decision and that result should be kept as a happy surprise as opposed to something you expect. Treat an interview as exactly what it is – a means to exchange information. The interviewer wants to know more about you and your potential value as an employee while you want to know if you really want to work with this company and in their work environment. Just like they are studying you, you are studying them.
There are some basics to the interviewing process that universally apply regardless of the industry, skill level, or quirkiness of the interviewer.
Although you should never rehearse your lines, it is still important to be prepared for the common questions. Always research the company and your expected coworkers as demonstrating a detailed understanding of what the organisation does is essential for impressing the interviewer. You won’t get very far if you are asked a question about what you know in regards to the company and all you can do in response is stare blankly. It is a sign of respect and shows that you are interested in not only the job but the company itself. Doing this also assists you greatly with determining what questions you will ask the interviewer after they have drilled you.
Find yourself a list of common interview questions and instead of standing in front of a mirror to develop a speech, take a minute to think about each question and your answer to them. Honesty is the best policy, but how can you make your answers sound better? What was impressive about that thing you did with Company X last year? How can you make the interviewer understand just how impressive it really was?
One of the best ways to ensure confidence in an interview is to understand your answers. While you can repeat lines in your head so you don’t sound silly or make mistakes, is your answer actually genuine? Do you know why you are giving that answer beyond “it sounds nice”? A distinct understanding and embracing of your own experiences makes it exponentially easier to not only answer the common questions interviewers will ask you but also the unexpected questions. Understand your psyche and you obtain the ability to not only be adaptive to a sudden change in social dynamic in the interviewing room but it allows you to demonstrate this trait as well.
Above all, remind yourself that you are human and so is the person sitting across from you at that desk. You can practice as much as you would like and you can still not leave a very good impression simply because your personality did not mesh with the interviewer. It happens and it is most certainly not a failure on your end. Focus on yourself and leave the rest, it is an unnecessary source of stress and worry that is best done without.