As we move toward the end of summer, many people are planning their next moves and anticipating job interviews. so what do you take to a job interview?
Your single biggest asset is your own confidence. I’ve gotten jobs solely because I came across as confident. When you’re confident you’ll say and do the right things automatically.
So how do you come across as confident? Three suggestions:
First, look and act like you belong. Do some research on the job and the corporate culture. For some environments, you’ll do better to dress as casually as the employees; for others, you’ll be advised to dress formally, even if everyone else is walking around in jeans and flip flops.
More subtly, your feeling of belonging will help you feel more relaxed. So a button comes loose on your shirt. If you were an employee, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Trip or spill coffee? Hardly an ideal scenario but it happens. And when you’re not worried about “what can go wrong,” chances are nothing will.
As you research the company, try to figure out more subtle aspects of the culture. What are their values? What do people talk about? Do they all work out at lunch and maybe go running? Do they eat together or do they eat at their desks? Get together for beer after work?
Second, get comfortable being a pro so you don’t turn it on and off. When your friend expresses alarm at your speaking style, do you catch yourself saying, “Oh, I’m just relaxed when we’re talking. I’m very professional when I’m at work.”
I’ve talked to hiring managers who say they’ve turned down candidates with long-winded conversational styles and free use of language during interviews. These days it’s hard to know what counts as bad language; one hiring manager refused to hire a candidate who used the word “sucks,” which seems pretty mild to me.
Finally, you’ll feel truly confident if you’re not feeling desperate. To avoid this feeling of “I’ve GOT to get this job,” create your Plan B. Set up multiple interviews. Think about how you would start your own business.
Ideally you walk into a meeting with the feeling, “I’d love to have this job but if it doesn’t work out, I’ll find something even better.”
Finally, remember that it’s all a game or a crap shoot. Your interviewer may already have chosen the candidate and is just going through the motions. It’s hard to tell; sometimes indifference is just bad manners and sometimes a charming interviewer is just a good actor.
Even when the job exists and you’re the most qualified candidate, you never know what’s going on behind the scenes or inside the interviewer’s mind. If you don’t get the job, it may have nothing to do with you. One of my clients got the “no” because she reminded the hiring executive of his ex-wife!
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