So you walk through the front door of the office building where you’re about to have the interview that could change your life. You’ve prepared, you cleaned yourself up, wore your sharpest outfit, you’re ready to go. Yet there is that gnawing feeling in the back of your head, something that is telling you that you might fail, that you won’t get this job, there are a hundred other candidates more qualified than you. It’s something we’ve all had to deal with at one point or another. So how do you handle it? How do you present yourself as the ideal candidate?
Hendrie Weisinger, PhD writes in Psychology Today that “the catalyst to bring the function of confidence to life is the realization that your actions influence your results.” Essentially, it comes down to the old adage that you have to believe in yourself.
Remember: They Want You To Be The Perfect Candidate
Interviewing for a position can be exhausting. HR has to comb through hundreds of applications, trying to find the exact right person for the job. What they really want is for the very first person they interview to be the right fit. That person could end up being you. If you’ve done your cursory research before your interview (a vital step for any job seeker), then you should feel prepared for anything they might throw at you.
The most important thing to remember during all of this is that the company really wants you to be the best. They want you to come in and wow them. They’re not trying to break you down or to prove that you’re wrong for them. They’re actually doing the exact opposite: they’re gaging your abilities and personality in the hopes that you’re going to blow them away with your knowledge and skills.
“If you can’t imagine yourself being successful, confidence will be hard to come by,” writes Hendrie. The key is visualization. While that sounds like some hollow new age advice, it’s the key to maintaining an air of confidence. If you can picture yourself getting the job, then you can see the path to that possibility.
Relax and Have a Conversation with the Interviewer
Too often what we think about job interviews is that you’re going to be in the hot seat, answering questions with the rigid nature of a robot. However, it doesn’t have to be like that. One of the big things companies look for in a candidate is if they are personable. When the interviewer asks you a question, don’t think of it as a primer for a programmed response. Think of it like they want to get to know you. You’re just two people having a conversation.
Obviously, you should take the interview seriously, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t show off your personality. After all, it never hurts to be chummy with the person who will be making the decision to bring you on. When they ask you about yourself, don’t be shy about loving Dungeons and Dragons or playing ultimate frisbee every Saturday. You never know if that thread can lead to a conversation where you can tie in your job experience.
Most jobs, particularly start-ups, are trying to build a more positive and friendly office culture. They not only want someone who can perform theduties of the job, but someone who fits in and brings a unique personality to the workplace. Just think about that when you and the interviewer are having your back and forth. Be professional, but don’t feel like you have to be too rigid. Think of it this way: when you walk out of the interview, it shouldn’t feel like a huge relief or a weight off your chest. It should feel like you were just catching up with an old friend.
Ask Questions: What’s In It For You?
There’s one part of the job interview that can really trip some people up, and that’s when they ask you if you have any questions for them. That’s not how this is supposed to work, you might be thinking at the end of the interview, but it is an essential part of the process. Think of it as an extension on the point about having a conversation. If you were just talking to one of your friends, you would want to know what’s going on with them as much as telling them about your own life.
The question portion of the interview can be very useful. It can allow you to find out more about the company and ultimately what’s in it for you. This conveys a sense of optimism because it is a reversal of the classic first interview question: what makes you right for this job? Well, what makes the job right for you?
So what kind of questions are good to ask in an interview? These are a few examples:
1. Where do you see this company in five years? While it’s important to know where you’d like to be in the future, it’s good to know that the company you’re potentially going to be working for also has a vision for the future. This question can also give you an impression of whether there are opportunities for advancement in your position.
2. How would you describe the company’s culture? Sometimes when you start working at a new job, you can quickly discover that the company culture doesn’t quite gel with your personality or work style. Asking this question may give you an idea of how they treat their employees. What are they doing to keep morale up? How do they show the employees that they are appreciated? What are the potential perks of working at this company? This simple question can sum up all of these concerns.
3. What are some future opportunities or challenges for the company? Similar to question one, asking about these things can give you a sense of what the future holds for the company. By identifying opportunities, you can learn about upcoming trends in the industry that may be useful to you in your career path. Asking about challenges gives you a sense of what you may be working on if you get the job.