Coach for a Confident Interview: Here’s How
The interview is not well understood. Few job seekers, in my opinion, realize that they can enhance their interview skills and boost their confidence 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. The good news is that clients can be coached to participate as an equal and enjoy a confident interview.
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 prepare in advance:
- 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.
- Make notes and have them at hand. For example, print out the company’s mission statement and highlight key points. Have a copy of the workplace stories that were 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 feelings of anxiety. The nervous job seeker often feels at a disadvantage during an interview. 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 an invitation to an interview is extended, the company’s representatives — human resource and hiring manager — liked what they read and hope to discover their dream candidate. Your client has as much right or chance to land the offer as the next person.
- Take notes. Interviewees may bring notes and take notes. Yes. Your client is attending 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, our clients can just be. That means that they might not have a ready answer for the odd question, and rather than feel sheepish, they will have the confidence to defer their answer, jotting it down for reflection. It means that rather than pretend that they understand, they are empowered to ask a clarifying question so that they’re able to genuinely grasp what the interviewer meant. Simply converse and question.
- Following the above advice will likely give clients content for a thank you email. They can leverage the content of the thank you note to answer any questions that gave pause, or expand on an answer they now know provided the interview team with only half of what they 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.
If you’d like to learn to provide clients with strategic advice on employment interviews, consider earning CPC’s Certified Interview Strategist designation.
Stephanie Clark has earned her rank among North America’s top résumé services. Enhancing her innate talent for the written word with training in business communications, Stephanie is recognized as a Master Certified Résumé Strategist with Career Professionals of Canada, as well as a Master Resume Writer, conferred by Career Thought Leaders (US). Stephanie’s skill at capturing and communicating each client’s distinctiveness has revitalized more than 1500 job searches since 2007. You can find her work in Best Canadian Résumés and Best Canadian Cover Letters, Modernize Your Resume, and Expert Resumes & LinkedIn Profiles for Managers and Executives.