How to Massively Increase Your Chances of Interview Success – Even if Interviews Make You Extremely Nervous
Abraham Lincoln famously said that if he were given six hours to chop down a tree, he’d spend the first four sharpening his axe. Almost all of this article focuses on what to do prior to the interview, rather than interviewing. Instead of assuming there is some kind of silver bullet that can eliminate your job interview nerves, I recommend sharpening your axe. Here’s how I recommend you do that.
Do Some Research on Yourself
Everyone hates the sound of their own voice. Many of us are brutally self-critical about what we look like, as well. This is a big reason why so few people improve their job interview performance. I suggest slowly overcoming your fear of watching and listening to yourself by watching longer and longer clips of yourself.
If you don’t have a career coach, get a friend with a smartphone to film you and ask you tough questions. Watch the footage, and, beyond the substance of your answers, you should focus on:
1. Your posture
2. How nervous you are
3. Your eye contact with the interviewer
Your posture signals confidence. Most people know this but don’t know how to improve their posture. I’ve gotten great results from the Alexander Technique. From carrying backpacks in high school to improper weightlifting, many of us have picked up bad postural habits. The Alexander Technique helps you unlearn those bad habits.
One of the biggest indicators of interview nerves is how quickly you answer each question. You rarely have the perfect answer at your fingertips so it’s ok to take a few moments to think. This will require comfort with silence, a rare quality in a world with Facebook notifications. 10 minutes of meditation per day will enable you to practice silence and slowness. Headspace can help.
Finally, you should work on your eye contact. In Psychology Today, Psychologist Adrian Furnham writes that: “People who seek eye contact while speaking are regarded not only as exceptionally well-disposed by their targets, but also as more believable and earnest.” Practice eye contact by looking for the color of people’s eyes.
At each mock interview, focus on improving just one of these three elements of your non-verbal repertoire until you’re happy with your progress. Then improve the next element. Simultaneously, you should be learning more about the company and the role you’re vying for.
Do Some Research on the Company and Role
Focus your research on uncovering the major problems you would be solving. Google and LinkedIn research and annual reports, for public companies, are good places to start. But nothing’s as powerful as hearing it from the horse’s mouth so you should organize informational interviews. Invite people to coffee, briefly tell them about yourself and that you’re exploring whether the role might be a fit and then listen to their descriptions of what they’re doing. Try to find the big problems. Get as detailed as you can.
Solve the problems in advance, to the extent you can. For example, if they’re struggling to acquire a particular type of client, call ten of them. If you get them a meeting with one, you now have something tangible to bring to the interview that will blow away the competition. If you can sign one client, you’re virtually guaranteed the job.
If they’re struggling with copywriting, you can look at one of their sales pages and critique or re-write it. The possibilities are endless. For some roles, it will be harder to design an experiment. But so long as you think of it as an experiment and have fun with it, you’ll be amazed at how far you can push the boundaries.
If you hate doing the work, it’s a sign you should question whether job is a fit for you. If you love doing the work, you can now prove it. If you’re at all worried about how your experiment will be perceived by the company, you can discuss it at an informal, informational interview, before presenting it at a formal interview.
Bring the Results of Your Experiment to the Interview
Most interviewees will talk about their skills to argue that they can do the job. Some will tell stories about their experience to demonstrate they can do the job. By simply doing the job, you’ll make the strongest possible case.
Bring the results of your experiment to the interview. You need not solve all of their problems as even the effort will be hugely appreciated. The key is to prove to them that you love doing the work and are good at it. Having gone above and beyond the call of duty, hopefully, you will be less nervous on interview day. And if you’re not, here’s one last piece of advice.
Try to emotionally disconnect. When we face big challenges, like interviews for jobs we want, we mistakenly assume that we MUST have the job. If we don’t get it, it feels like a huge loss. Our minds are wired to be very afraid of losing, so we exaggerate the consequences of not getting we want. But the truth is that the future is very, very hard to predict and what we think we want may not actually be good for us. The more you can emotionally disconnect and see life as a journey, rather than as a series of battles that must be won, the less you will suffer.
Good luck and let me know how you plan to approach some upcoming job interviews at [email protected]
– Dan King is a Career Coach at www.amplifyyourcareer.com.