Coach for a Confident Interview: Here’s How
By Stephanie Clark.
The interview is not well understood. Few job seekers, in my opinion, realize that they can enhance their interview skills without joining Toastmasters. That level of accomplished public speaking is beyond most of us. Besides, it does not reflect the interview at all, which is a conversation, not a speech, and is best fluid, rather than composed and memorized.
After achieving CPC’s Certified Interview Strategist (CIS) designation in about 2008, which I highly recommend, and with a few years of further self-study, I created a one-hour lesson in how to interview well. There are many aspects to the lesson – selecting workplace examples, framing these, and identifying and integrating appropriate, influential details, for example.
In this article I share with you my most effective interview tip: confidence is the critical key to a stronger presentation.
The question of confidence goes beyond my capabilities to counsel or advise on; thus, my coaching client hears a simplified message: approach your interview as if it were a typical business meeting. Come prepared, I urge each, speak as an equal, have a conversation, ask questions, and answer questions.
This shift in mindset from that of the interview as an inquisition to the interview as a business meeting between equals will make a huge difference to your job seeking client’s interview delivery.
Advise your client to arrive prepared:
- Research the company. I recommend looking at its mission and vision statements, strategic plan, and press releases, if available. Do what it takes to get to know what makes this company tick, what it values, and where it’s going.
- Bring notes with you. Arrive with, for example, the mission statement printed and highlighted, as well as the workplace stories you selected, related to the skills the job posting identified as important to the company, department, and team.
Advise your client to interact as an equal:
- Monitor your anxiety. The nervous job seeker often feels at a disadvantage at the interview table. If one anxiously feels less than, one may defer, stumble, and perhaps even resent, none of which will help land a job offer. Truth is, if you have been invited to an interview, the company’s representatives – human resource and hiring manager – liked what they read and hope you are their dream candidate. You have as much right or chance to land the offer as the next person.
- Take notes. You may bring notes and take notes. Yes. You are at a business meeting, after all. Taking notes and getting back with answers is what is done. Do it.
Advise your client to converse and question:
- Adopting the mindset of being a relaxed equal partner in the conversation allows one to answer questions without the fear of losing the job offer hanging in the air like a guillotine! Freed from the pressure, you can just be. That means that you might not have a ready answer for the odd question, and rather than feel sheepish, you have the confidence to defer your answer, jotting it down for reflection. It means that rather than pretend that you understand, you are empowered to ask a clarifying question so that you genuinely grasp what the Manager meant. Simply converse and question.
- The above will likely give you content for the thank you email. Answer the question that gave you pause, or expand on an answer you now know provided the interview team with only half of what you had to share.
My interview-coached clients, who have included an HR Director and Manager, amongst many others, have responded with positive feedback, often landing a job offer after their very first, post-coaching job interview.
Treat the interview as a conversation. This seemingly simplistic piece of advice, when applied to the interview piece of the job-search puzzle, will change your client’s ability to respond confidently, appropriately, naturally. It is empowering.