Look, not all of us have that Tony Robbins charisma when it comes to speaking to crowds or even one-on-one in a job interview. But we all have the capacity to rise to the occasion when it’s in our best interest, especially when it’s to avoid negative consequences. I have a friend whose picture is in the Whos’s Who of Introverts, but can reason and persuade like William F. Buckley when it comes to talking himself out of a speeding ticket. He rose to the occasion to avoid a very expensive ticket and taking a hit on his car insurance.
Interviews are no different. The negative side of doing poorly in a job interview is not continuing forward in the hiring process. That’s pretty strong incentive to put on your game face if you’ve made it as far as the job interview. It’s not about trying to be someone you’re not; it’s about stretching more out of your own comfort zone to embrace the opportunity. Just adding some slight vocal inflections and facial expressions adds enthusiasm to your statement “I have the necessary skills and background to help add value to the team” (or something like that). A genuine degree of enthusiasm helps convince the hiring manager you are interested in the position.
Here are 5 suggestions for upping your interview chops:
- Embrace the fact that no one knows YOU and your expertise better than YOU. How can someone without the knowledge you have of your accomplishments, skills, and knowledge get the best of you? Only if you let them.
- It’s OK if you’re a little nervous, but try to eliminate any fear of failure. The highly skilled concert pianist may be nervvous as he or she walks out on stage, but the audience is on the artist’s side – they want the event to be successful. It’s the same with hiring managers – they have thought highly enough of your background to invite you for an interview; it’s in their interest to want you to do well.
- The best antidote to nervousness is knowing your résumé and accomplishments backwards and forwards. You can’t get tripped up by anyone regarding your work history if your résumé serves as your talking points; letting fear control your emotional response to an interview situation might, however.
- Ask questions about the project work, challenges to be addressed, or specific tools to help you control any sense of being in the witness box. When there’s a two-way exchange of information, a conversation happens, which is a lot less threatening than an interview.
- Have a sense when the interview is over. When I have interviewed quiet, introverted candidates, many just didn’t have any sense of timing when the interview was concluded. There’s that embarrassing pregnant pause and stillness in the room as if the candidate is waiting for someone to call him or her out of the room. I’ll often toss out the cue, “Do you have any other questions for me or about the position?” That’s usually a signal that we’re done if you don’t have any questions.
With solid preparation and going in to an interview to have a conversation about how you are the hiring manager’s problem solver, you’ll eliminate the competition “from top to bottomus.”
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Former Fortune 500 hiring manager Donn LeVie Jr. is the author of Strategic Career Engagement (September 2015), and the book that reset the rules for successful job and career strategies: Confessions of a Hiring Manager Rev. 2.0 (June 2012, Winner of the 2012 Global eBook Award and Winner of the 2012 International Book Award for Jobs/Careers). He leads career strategy seminars at conferences, business/trade schools, colleges and universities, and U.S. military veterans organizations.
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