Your palms are sweating. Your heart is racing. Heck, you even forgot your name.
Until someone shouts it out loud, walking towards you with their hand outstretched.
As you greet this person, you try to keep your hand steady…but it feels like they can see right through you. There’s no way you’re going to get this job, you might think.
I know, I know–I’ve heard it plenty of times. Going on an interview can seem like it’s a scary thing. But, let me let you in on a little secret: You have no reason to be nervous. You are interviewing that company just as much as they are interviewing you (if not more!).
Sound crazy? Well, through my experience helping thousands of people to land their dream career, I’ve seen this magic trick in action. When you’re just…you during the interview process, you’re no longer at the mercy of that big company–and you end up landing that dream job with ease.
It might seem difficult to wrap your heard around though (and easy enough to say, Scott!). On an interview it feels like you have to be on your best behavior hoping that your skills and personality align with the expectations of the person sitting across the table from you. It often feels like throwing a dart against the wall in a pitch black room.
But, when you learn how to be authentically you during the interview process, that’s no longer the case. And today, along with Career Coach Evangelia LeClaire, I will tell you exactly how to do it.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF INTERVIEWING AUTHENTICALLY? YOUR MINDSET.
Long before you even begin thinking about going on an interview, you need to get into the right mindset. This accounts for nearly 80% of your interview success!
Having a confident, present mindset allows you to head into your future interviews with ease. It channels your nerves (those sweaty palms and racing heart) into excitement instead. And, it allows you to be yourself.
In order to get into this mindset though, you have to know yourself well, and respect your past experiences. You need to understand your career equity. And, that takes introspection.
That introspection doesn’t come overnight either. It’s a practice that builds up over time, which is why “cramming” for interviews isn’t effective. Being true self in an interview comes down to self-development.
INTERVIEW PREP STARTS LONG BEFORE THE INTERVIEW IS SCHEDULED
Since a large part of being successful in interviews, and ultimately landing your dream job comes down to organizational alignment, it takes a lot of prep work to understand what is a career fit.
So, let’s take a step back.
Evangelia suggest that this path of self-discovery could happen on your own, or with a coach. “But importantly,” she says, “you should start with identifying your strengths.”
If you’re at the very beginning stages of your self-discovery, we have a great resource that helps you get clear on what the right career is for you. It’s an 8-day course that makes you dig deeper, and understand what those strengths are.
Evangelia suggest another great tool: A Trello Board, which you can see an example of below.
A Trello Board allows you to collect all of your values, strengths, and what type of work energizes you. You can complete this exercise with a coach, or on your own–though it’s usually helpful to have a second pair of eyes (even if it’s just a friend!). Regardless, you should use an organizational tool like Evernote to keep track of these findings–they will come in handy later, I promise.
AND REMEMBER — A LITTLE MORE CONVERSATION NEVER HURTS
Once you have done your self-discovery work, get to talking…a lot.
Connecting with people in the organization you’re interested in will help you get clear on your own personal values and what the company is about. And, it will be an extreme bonus when the actual interview roles around.
During our conversation, Evangelia reminds us that this discovery phase extends to finding the right organization, too.
I think a lot of us get into interviews and feel we are at the mercy of the company which isn’t a great mindset to have. People that go with that mindset accept a role or convince a company that they are the fit for a role that they really aren’t right for. That causes eventual agony and months and years of waste.
It’s important to remember that the preparation phases before you land the interview are just as important–and cramming never works. Spending time getting to know yourself and the organization you think you’re interested in working for might seem like it takes a lot of time and energy–but at the end of the day it could save you years of your life.
But when you enter these “informational” chats, what might you say?
Evangelia shares a couple of simple conversation starts that could help:
When you get to the actual interview–even if it’s not with the same person that you spoke with during your exploration phase, you can leverage the information that you learned. Whether it’s concrete examples, or even just knowing the tone of conversation within the organization’s culture, all these learnings will prove helpful.
Also, it’s scientifically proven that we build trust faster with people we are familiar with. It’s not “name dropping” anymore, right?
SO, THE INTERVIEW IS FINALLY SCHEDULED: NOW WHAT?
So, you finally have The Big Interview on your calendar. Don’t start getting nervous yet–you’ve already been doing your homework for a long time!
Evangelia shares a few important tools and practices to use during this phase. The first is getting organized, and referring back to that self-discovery work you did in the beginning: your Trello Board.
Rather than going in worrying how to answer the 30 most common questions in an interview, whittle it down to what they are seeking and creating stories that support it. It’s so much easier for you to pull out these stories out without saying the same thing during each question.
After looking back at your strengths, compare them with the career competencies listed on the job description. These might be project management, or data analysis–basically, the “skills” you’ll need for the job. After comparing these two important pieces of information, you can start crafting your stories.
You should prepare about 3 – 4 stories about the core competencies you know are important for this role. In this process you don’t need to be perfect. You just need to think of clear examples that demonstrate your true self–and how your strengths align with this role. Leave out the minute details.
There are a couple of different frameworks that we like to use in the coaching world. You can use the “present, past or future” framework (one of my favorites!):
It can sound like currently I’m a ____. Where I get to do ___ (things that are relevant) and before that I did ____ (inserting relevant traits and experience), and in the future I want to ____.
THE BIG DAY: TOP 3 TIPS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING YOUR INTERVIEW
So, you made it to the big day: Your Interview.
Out of all the preparation you did, Evangelia and I have 3 major tips to keep in mind, so that all that hard preparation comes in handy.
- It’s all about your mindset Remember, 80% of your interview success is about your mindset. Think about all the preparation you did to get here, and all of the experience you have relative to this role. Be confident!
- Think of your stories as guideposts Your stories should guide you throughout your conversation. Don’t have anything memorized, or know exactly how you would answer the “Top 30 Questions To Know When You Interview.” Knowing the content of your stories will be able to back you up for any question.
- Be flexible! Look for cues from your environment, and the person you’re speaking with. If you were set on telling a story about your 5th grade graduation (I wouldn’t recommend that anyway!), but your interviewer is taking you down another path – go with it. You got this!
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