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5 Ways to Become More Comfortable In a Job Interview

5 Ways to Become More Comfortable In a Job Interview

Let’s face it; job interviews are often stressful, nerve-wracking and just plain awkward. We all try our best to be prepared before going into each interview, but no matter how much we prepare, it is impossible to anticipate every twist and turn. If there’s no way of knowing exactly how an interview will play out–what questions the interviewer will ask or how your personalities will mesh–the best you can do is take steps to feel as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Check out these five tips for becoming more comfortable in a job interview:

1. Do your research

A big part of feeling confident in an interview is coming into it prepared. The best way to prepare for any interview is to research. Research the company. Learn everything you can about how the company started, what their goals are, who their audience is and what their company culture is like. If you come into the interview with knowledge, your questions and answers will sound more informed. Show the interviewer that you are serious about the position. Lastly, you should research the fastest commute to the office and determine exactly how much time you need to get there. Rushing will only make you more stressed.

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2. Get plenty of sleep

When you don’t get enough sleep, your cognitive skills suffer. Your ability to problem-solve and make decisions is at a depreciated level, which will make your skills as an interviewee suffer. Make sure you are well-rested and on top of your game. Head to bed early the night before an interview. If you typically have a difficult time falling asleep, get some exercise a couple of hours before bedtime, have a cup of caffeine-free tea or read a book in bed. Do whatever you can to fall asleep at a reasonable hour.

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3. Learn about the interviewer

We’ve all been there: you shake hands with the interviewer, introduce yourself, then realize you have nothing to say other than memorized answers to questions that haven’t been asked. Put yourself at ease by learning a little bit about the interviewer ahead of time. This doesn’t mean learning everything about them, just know the basics. LinkedIn is a good place to start. Where did he/she go to college? What companies did he/she work for previously? What groups is he/she a part of? Take your research a step further by checking out his/her Facebook profile. Do you have friends or interests in common? Having little pieces of knowledge in your back pocket will help fill any awkward silences throughout the interview.

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4. Know your best traits

The purpose of an interview is to sell yourself to the interviewer. So, it is very important that you are aware of your best selling points. Consider past performance reviews; what did your manager frequently commend you on? Ask your coworkers what they think your best professional qualities are. Be confident about your best traits and use them in your interview to show who you are.

5. Create a conversation

One of the best ways to put yourself and the interviewer (who might also be uncomfortable) at ease is to start a conversation. After all, one thing the interviewer is looking for during an interview is to see how you would fit in with the other employees. If you can turn the question-and-answer format of an interview into an easy, flowing conversation, that will show him/her that you can work well with others. One easy way to start a conversation is by turning your answer to a question into another question for the interview. For example, the interviewer might ask you, “How long did you work for Microsoft?” You answer, “About 4 years. Have you ever been to their headquarters?” From there, a conversation can begin.

Finally, put an end to the dreaded awkward interview by becoming an interview expert. The biggest part of acing an interview is feeling comfortable. Once you master the ways to prepare and be comfortable for an interview, every interview in the future will start to feel like just another conversation.

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Last Updated on June 18, 2019

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

5 Types of Leadership Styles (And Which Is Best for You)

It takes great leadership skills to build great teams.

The best leaders have distinctive leadership styles and are not afraid to make the difficult decisions. They course-correct when mistakes happen, manage the egos of team members and set performance standards that are constantly being met and improved upon.

With a population of more than 327 million, there are literally scores of leadership styles in the world today. In this article, I will talk about the most common leadership styles and how you can determine which works best for you.

5 Types of Leadership Styles

I will focus on 5 common styles that I’ve encountered in my career: democratic, autocratic, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership.

The Democratic Style

The democratic style seeks collaboration and consensus. Team members are a part of decision-making processes and communication flows up, down and across the organizational chart.

The democratic style is collaborative. Author and motivational speaker Simon Sinek is an example of a leader who appears to have a democratic leadership style.

    The Autocratic Style

    The autocratic style, on the other hand, centers the preferences, comfort and direction of the organization’s leader. In many instances, the leader makes decisions without soliciting agreement or input from their team.

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    The autocratic style is not appropriate in all situations at all times, but it can be especially useful in certain careers, such as military service, and in certain instances, such as times of crisis. Steve Jobs was said to have had an autocratic leadership style.

    While the democratic style seeks consensus, the autocratic style is less interested in consensus and more interested in adherence to orders. The latter advises what needs to be done and expects close adherence to orders.

      The Transformational Style

      Transformational leaders drive change. They are either brought into organizations to turn things around, restore profitability or improve the culture.

      Alternatively, transformational leaders may have a vision for what customers, stakeholders or constituents may need in the future and work to achieve those goals. They are change agents who are focused on the future.

      Examples of transformational leader are Oprah and Robert C. Smith, the billionaire hedge fund manager who has offered to pay off the student loan debt of the entire 2019 graduating class of Morehouse College.

        The Transactional Style

        Transactional leaders further the immediate agenda. They are concerned about accomplishing a task and doing what they’ve said they’d do. They are less interested in changing the status quo and more focused on ensuring that people do the specific task they have been hired to do.

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        The transactional leadership style is centered on short-term planning. This style can stifle creativity and keep employees stuck in their present roles.

        The Laissez-Faire Style

        The fifth common leadership style is laissez-faire, where team members are invited to help lead the organization.

        In companies with a laissez-faire leadership style, the management structure tends to be flat, meaning it lacks hierarchy. With laissez-faire leadership, team members might wonder who the final decision maker is or can complain about a lack of leadership, which can translate to lack of direction.

        Which Leadership Style do You Practice?

        You can learn a lot about your leadership style by observing your family of origin and your formative working experiences.

        Whether you realize it, from the time you were born up until the time you went to school, you were receiving information on how to lead yourself and others. From the way your parents and siblings interacted with one another, to unspoken and spoken communication norms, you were a sponge for learning what constitutes leadership.

        The same is true of our formative work experiences. When I started my communications career, I worked for a faith-based organization and then a labor union. The style of communication varied from one organization to the other. The leadership required to be successful in each organization was also miles apart. At Lutheran social services, we used language such as “supporting people in need.” At the labor union, we used language such as “supporting the leadership of workers” as they fought for what they needed.

        Many in the media were more than happy to accept my pitch calls when I worked for the faith-based organization, but the same was not true when I worked for a labor union. The quest for media attention that was fair and balanced became more difficult and my approach and style changed from being light-hearted to being more direct with the labor union.

        I didn’t realize the impact those experiences had on how I thought about my leadership until much later in my career.

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        In my early experience, it was not uncommon for team members to have direct, brash and tough conversations with one another as a matter of course. It was the norm, not the exception. I learned to challenge people, boldly state my desires and preferences, and give tough feedback, but I didn’t account for the actions of others fit for me, as a black woman. I didn’t account for gender biases and racial biases.

        What worked well for my white male bosses, did not work well for me as an African American woman. People experienced my directness as being rude and insensitive. While I needed to be more forceful in advancing the organization’s agenda when I worked for labor, that style did not bode well for faith-based social justice organizations who wanted to use the love of Christ to challenge injustice.

        Whereas I received feedback that I needed to develop more gravitas in the workplace when I worked for labor, when I worked for other organizations after the labor union, I was often told to dial it back. This taught me two important lessons about leadership:

        1. Context Matters

        Your leadership style must adjust to each workplace you are employed. The challenges and norms of an organization will shape your leadership style significantly.

        2. Not All Leadership Styles Are Appropriate for the Teams You’re Leading

        When I worked on political campaigns, we worked nonstop. We started at dawn and worked late into the evening. I couldn’t expect that level of round-the-clock work for people at the average nonprofit. Not only couldn’t I expect it, it was actually unhealthy. My habit of consistently waking up at 4 am to work was profoundly unhealthy for me and harmful for the teams I was leading.

        As life coach and spiritual healer Iyanla Vanzant has said,

        “We learn a lot from what is seen, sensed and shared.”

        The message I was sending to my team was ‘I will value you if you work the way that I work, and if you respond to my 4 am, 5 am and 6 am emails.’ I was essentially telling my employees that I expect you to follow my process and practice.

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        As I advanced in my career and began managing more people, I questioned everything I thought I knew about leadership. It was tough. What worked for me in one professional setting did not work in other settings. What worked at one phase of my life didn’t necessarily serve me at later stages.

        When I began managing millennials, I learned that while committed to the work, they had active interests and passions outside of the office. They were not willing to abandon their lives and happiness for the work, regardless of how fulfilling it might have been.

        The Way Forward

        To be an effective leader, you must know yourself incredibly well. You must be self-reflective and also receptive to feedback.

        As fellow Lifehack contributor Mike Bundrant wrote in the article 10 Essential Leadership Qualities That Make a Great Leader:

        “Those who lead must understand human nature, and they start by fully understanding themselves…They know their strengths, and are equally aware of their weaknesses and thus understand the need for team work and the sharing of responsibility.”

        The way to determine your leadership style is to get to know yourself and to be mindful of the feedback you receive from others. Think about the leadership lessons that were seen, sensed and shared in your family of origin. Then think about what feels right for you. Where do you gravitate and what do you tend to avoid in the context of leadership styles?

        If you are really stuck, think about using a personality assessment to shed light on your work patterns and preferences.

        Finally, the path for determining your leadership style is to think about not only what you need, or what your company values, but also what your team needs. They will give you cues on what works for them and you need to respond accordingly.

        Leadership requires flexibility and attentiveness. Contrary to unrealistic notions of leadership, being a leader is less about being served and more about being of service.

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        Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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