Latest update: January 6th, 2013
The elevator ride seems to take forever, and your stomach feels like it is dropping. Glancing at the mirror, you realize this may be the last opportunity to be sure you look professional. You wonder if they will notice the little wrinkle in your clothes your spouse told you to take care of before you left. You take a deep breath and try to relax, but it is no use. Your heart is racing as you walk though the elevator door, and you force yourself to remember to smile.
It is time for your interview, and it feels like the weight of the entire world is bearing down on your shoulders. Everyone has told you to relax, but that is much easier said than done; there is a lot riding on this opportunity.
Most job seekers can relate to this experience. Unemployment can be a frustrating challenge, and every interview offers a glimmer of hope. First you have to get through the interview, though.
Interviewing can be the hardest part of the job search process. There is no hiding behind your resume or even the great recommendation you received from a friend of the firm’s partner. You need to perform at the interview, and no one else can do it for you.
So, while you know you need to relax, the truth is you have every reason to be nervous. Your performance at this interview can make the difference between a job offer and months of continued searching. In Touro’s Career Services office, we have seen the most confident and professional students feel a little intimidated by the interview process, and we tailor a specific interview preparation strategy for each student to maximize his or her opportunity for success.
Fortunately, there are some general things you can do in advance of the interview to make sure it goes well. First, it is completely normal to be nervous before an interview. Interviews are, by definition, high stress events because of the opportunities they provide.
We often advise students to refocus their perspective. Human Resources professionals have no interest in wasting their time. They called you in for an interview because they saw something in your resume that leads them to believe you would be the right person for that position. In other words, you are not an unknown entity. They are interested in you, or they would not have called. Some career professionals would go so far as to say that the interviewer has, to some extent, staked his or her professional reputation on your potential for this position, and they do not do so lightly.
Be that as it may, seize the moment. Instead of looking at the interview as your one desperate chance to sell yourself, try to reframe your goal as a process of confirming to the interviewer that their inclinations about your qualifications were correct, and that you are the right person for this position.
Often, that little shift in perspective alone allows interviewees to feel more confident, but that strategy is just the beginning. An interview is just as much an opportunity to see if a company is right for you, as it is to prove that you are right for them. Bearing this in mind places you on equal footing with the interviewer. You can turn a one-sided interview into a mutual process.
Sometimes people are in a situation in which they have to take a job, whether it is what they want or not. There is no question that looming mortgage, tuition and food bills can make any job opportunity seem enticing, but remember that you are not required to accept one just because it’s offered to you. Finding a job that properly utilizes your strengths is a key to long-term success, and it can stop you from having to go through this whole process again when you’re unhappy where you wind up. You do have a choice.
In any event, appearing desperate at an interview is a good way to ensure that you will not receive a job offer. Trying to look at the interview as a mutual investigation can go a long way toward helping you stay calm.
Make sure you take care of all of the details that are under your control. What you do to prepare yourself and your appearance for an interview can make all the difference in the world. As the cliché goes, there are no second chances to make a first impression. You must dress professionally. That means suits are required for both men and women (sweater sets may be nice for women on Shabbos, but they are not appropriate for interviews).
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