A job search can be a stressful time in a person’s life, and staying positive and motivated can make a world of difference for how a candidate is viewed through the eyes of the interviewer. There’s a wealth of practical information on the web about resume and cover letter tips, acing the interview, and follow-up responses. But how do you avoid getting wrapped up in all the stress and worry of a job hunt and maintain a positive outlook? The more confident you feel, the more it will show. Be poised and hold your head high with these useful day-of interview tips:
We all know that our minds control our actions and our movements. But did you know you can actually use your body to trick your mind into feeling a certain way? Slouching or slumping and crossing your arms are all examples of closed off postures, and when we feel small, we tend to exhibit these poses. If you spend a little time opening yourself up and exhibiting the postures of the confident, you can build a sense of assurance just by your actions. Spend several minutes practicing “power poses,” or opening yourself up, spreading your arms, walking tall, and looking the part.
We often spend the hours before our interview at home alone going over our perfect answers for the questions we anticipate. We haven’t spoken out loud all day, and without noticing it, we feel holed up and nervous. Public speaking and enunciation are skills and we need to hone these skills in order to master them. Once the interview starts, it’s extremely difficult to correct our speaking problems because we may be too nervous or we just plain don’t notice them. Practice speaking your answers out loud so you can hear your voice and correct any nervous intonations, pitch problems, or pacing issues before you go to your interview.
And don’t forget to smile. Smiling is contagious, even for yourself. Smile often before your interview to get in the habit of doing so, and you’ll feel more comfortable offering a genuine smile while you’re greeted and when you’re being interviewed.
When you’re in your interview, you want to sound excited and enthusiastic about the position, and not downtrodden and beaten up by the job search process. Do whatever you do to pump yourself up and put yourself in the mood to win, whether it’s listening to upbeat music or watching motivational YouTube videos, or just reading inspirational quotes. Think about a time in your life when you succeeded to get yourself motivated.
So you had your dream job interview the previous day, and now you’re at your backup job interview. If only you could know beforehand whether or not you’ll be offered the dream job, because then you wouldn’t have to keep interviewing. Yesterday you were at your best, but today doesn’t really matter.
Whatever you feel about the job you’re interviewing for, treat it like it’s your only priority. Bring enthusiasm with you to every interview you go on, because nothing is set in stone, and no matter how confident you are that you aced the dream job interview, you can never be sure until you’ve signed the contract. If you’re anything but excited about the position, it will show. And you never know, the backup job could end up being perfect.
Job searching sometimes only happens every few years, or longer. If your last interview outfit has gone out of style, you’ll feel outdated and boxy while wearing it and this could result in awkward behavior on your part because you don’t feel comfortable. Don’t dress in clothes you feel ridiculous wearing. If you take some time to pick out a professional and stylish outfit you feel confident in, you’ll be more likely to exude this assurance and everything from your posture to your attitude could change for the better.
Smile at a stranger. Start small talk with the barista. Chat with the receptionist or the people in the elevator in a friendly manner. Interviewers aren’t just looking for the person who has the perfect answer for every question, they’re also searching for someone who can fit the team dynamic. Employers strive to create a motivated, friendly environment with high company morale, and if you come across as someone who’s shut off and impersonal, no matter how well you answer the questions, you’re doing yourself a disservice by not letting your more lively personality show a little.
Always remember that the small talk that occurs at the beginning of the interview is equally important as the interview itself, so put yourself in a friendly mood by being an extrovert for a few minutes in the morning. (True story: a friend of mine was once so friendly to the people in the elevator after her interview, that one employee rode right back up to tell his boss to hire her immediately. Every action counts, even if your interviewer isn’t present.)
So you crack your knuckles. You bite your nails on occasion, you tap your foot when you’re feeling excited. We have nervous tics because they offer a feeling of release, and it can be relaxing to give in every once in a while. You don’t have to tell yourself to abandon your habits completely, but make sure you’re not doing them in front of a future employer. Make a point to get it all out of the way when you’re still at home or in your car. Go ahead and crack your knuckles and tap your foot if it calms your nerves, then make a mental note to hold off for the few hours you’re in the building (Do be careful when biting your nails, you want them to look nice and well-manicured for the interview).
Depending on how you answer, this could potentially be the most important question of the interview. It can make or break your prospect of landing the job, and if asked in the beginning of the interview, it can set the tone for the rest of the meeting. Knowing the answer to this question means knowing all about the company and the company’s mission, and it requires a deep understanding of your own career values and desires. It also addresses not only why you’re enthusiastic about the position, but how your specific skill set can be of use to the company.
If the interviewer doesn’t ask this, answer it anyway. When it’s your turn to ask questions or add something, say that you’d like to add what motivated you to apply for the position at that particular company, and why you were excited to be contacted for the interview. Talk about how you believe your values and ambitions are in line with the company’s, and why you feel passionate about the work they do. Think of this answer as your chance to impress and spend a lot of time researching and rehearsing what you’re going to say in this moment.
Always remember that the interview isn’t just a session to figure out what skills and experience you possess, it’s a chance for you to let your personality show and to prove that you’d be a good fit for the team. Don’t pass up any opportunity for friendly conversation, and be more wary of short and curt answers than loquaciousness (but try not to ramble too much, of course). Have confidence in yourself, believe that you’re capable of landing this job. After all, they called you; they decided your resume and cover letter were worthy of an interview. So practice potential questions and your answers, but also work on building confidence in yourself and having a positive outlook.
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