Once you go through the arduous process of applying for a job, you wait and hope for that glorious email or phone call informing you of one fact — you have an interview! Then, almost instantly, your excitement is replaced by sheer panic. Will they pick you? What if you get a question wrong? How are you going to get ready for this? Instead of feeling overwhelmed, take a moment and step outside of the powerless position that interviewees feel. In fact, the best way to prepare for an interview is to adopt the opposite role — become the interviewer.
Figure out where the interviewers are coming from. What are they looking for from each candidate? If the tables were turned and you were interviewing yourself for this position, what would you want to know? Go online and research questions companies ask people interviewing for this type of position. Take the time to brainstorm questions you would have for a future employee. Write them down.
Taking on the role of the interviewer answer the following:
Once you approach it from the interviewer side, you can then practice as an interviewee. Questions to help you prepare:
Practice answering them the way you would in the actual interview – say your responses out loud. Don’t just think about the answers, practice articulating your thoughts. Knowing the answers is not enough. You need to hear yourself saying them. Practice being succinct and to the point. Get comfortable answering questions in a clear and concise way.
Once you’ve come up with questions and practiced answering them, the next step is to let it all go. Don’t over-rehearse or become too obsessed with your preparation. As an interviewer, you want the person you are talking with to be genuine and honest. You don’t want to just listen to rehearsed statements. You want to get a sense of who that person is and if they will be a good fit with the team.
If you want to prepare for an interview, you have to think about the situation from the interviewer’s perspective. Put yourself in a position of power and think about the questions they will ask. Practice your answers and then let everything go. When you enter the interview, don’t think about the preparation. Pay attention to what is actually happening in front of you. Actively listen, be genuine and enjoy this opportunity to showcase what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Everyone talks to themselves. Whether you want to admit it or not, your mind is constantly full of dialogue. Sometimes this voice is helpful — like when you are about to leave the house and that little voice in your head suddenly reminds you that you forgot your phone on the dining room table. Other times, that internal voice can send you into a downward spiral. This commonly happens when you are stressed out and preparing for a large event.
That is why I always tell people to have a motto. Having a powerful motto is essential and finding the right one is a process.
Most people, before they go on stage to give a presentation, talk to themselves by saying a variety of things like:
"Don’t mess up."
"Just get through it!"
"I am going to get everyone excited about this."
The problem with these statements is that they all depend on the outcome of the presentation. You are measuring your success by the audience’s reaction. While everyone would love to believe otherwise, you have no control over what the audience does with the information you are giving them. You do, however, have control over what you do and how you approach the situation. Instead of thinking about the outside reaction to your material, find a motto that doesn’t depend on the audience. This motto is for you. This motto sets you up for your entire talk. What would be the best thing to say to make you feel like you were at the top of your game?
Great mottos depend on the person. They range from:
“I am calm, centered, and ready to have fun.”
“Let’s do this!”
My motto is, “I am amazing.”
Your motto will come in handy before you go on stage for a presentation or before an interview. You can use it if something unexpected comes up and you need to recenter yourself. Or you can say it whenever you hear the little voice in your head telling you how everything could go wrong.
It is worth your time to find the perfect motto. After all, “You are amazing.”
1. BE MENTALLY PRESENT
Be here now. It is the most important advice I can give. Miscommunications and missed opportunities occur far too often because people are distracted by their own thoughts and not focusing on what is happening in front of them. This is especially hard in an interview, when your body is filled with nerves and your mind is running through all the various ways this could play out. Instead of focusing on what could be, pay attention to what is.
2. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
The first thing to do before entering an interview is to change your mindset. Instead of saying to yourself, “Don’t mess up!” or “Please pick me...” enter the room believing you are already on their team. You have to assume you and the interviewer are already colleagues. You are entering the room to get to know each other better, to exchange ideas and to see if you can work together to build something great. You are not entering the room to be grilled or interrogated. This is a supportive atmosphere where you can have a conversation and explore new topics.
3. INTERVIEW THE INTERVIEWER
It is important to remember that you are also interviewing the interviewer. You need to figure out if this is a work environment that you can thrive in. The last thing you want to do is move your whole life around for this job and find out that this is not a place where you feel you can spread your wings and fly. That is why an interview is a conversation. Go in excited to explore new possibilities. You are seeing if you can add to their team and if their team is the right fit for you.
4. GO WITH THE FLOW
People always tell me that their number one fear is saying the wrong thing. It is impossible to predict and prepare for every possible situation and question. Instead, breathe and be excited about this experience. Fun is the antidote to fear. I have my clients engage in various improvisation exercises to remind them that the unplanned can be fun.
5. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Even though you can’t prepare for everything, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. Know the company you are interviewing for. What is their mission statement? What are they currently working on? Were any articles about them released lately? With the internet at your fingertips, you have many resources to consult before entering an interview situation. You also need to know why you are the best fit for this job. If you don’t know why you are ideal for this position, how can you expect others to believe you are? Figure out what makes you uniquely qualified for the job and why you would be a great addition to their team.
Bri McWhorter is the Founder and CEO of Activate to Captivate.