There’s no doubt about it — a job interview is a nerve-wracking experience! It’s natural to feel nervous before a job interview. After all, it’s an important event with the potential to shape your future, and you are on the hot seat. But it’s important to remember that almost everyone feels nerves at some point before an interview. It’s a sign that you care about the opportunity and want to do your best.
There are a few things you can do to make the process less stressful. I feel that the best way to address those nerves is to channel that energy into interview preparation. That prep time can go a long way. The more time you take in advance to get ready, the more comfortable you’ll feel during the actual interview.
Job interview preparation
First, do your research. A job interview isn’t an exam — you don’t need to study for hours on end — but you should do some research on the company. That way, you’ll understand exactly what they are looking for in a new hire, and be ready to discuss your experience and what makes you a great fit for the job. Making the effort to be prepared will help you feel more confident and relaxed during the interview, and give you the best possible chance of impressing your potential employer. This will not only help you be more prepared for questions, but it will also show that you’re truly interested in the opportunity.
Find out the most basic information too. If you’re interviewing for a private sector job, read a little about the company’s history: when it was founded and where its head office is located. If you’re going to an interview at IBM, for example, know what IBM stands for. For a government role, you should know what the department’s mandate is and some of the names at the top of the food chain – which minister is in charge and who is the Deputy Minister (DM) or Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), for example.
Practice answering job interview questions
Once you’ve done your company research, it’s time to practice by reviewing the most common interview questions employers ask and practice your answers out loud. It may feel strange at first, but practising aloud will help you learn to project your voice and control the pace of your delivery.
The key to answering questions is to be specific by drawing on concrete examples that highlight your skills, and back up what’s stated on your resume. When you’re crafting your responses, keep in mind the skills that are most important to the employer and relevant to the position. Be sure to review the job posting carefully, and match the list of requirements to your experience, with specific examples.
“Tell me about a time when you were faced with a difficult situation, and how you handled it.”
You can expect to hear variations of this common job interview question. It can be tricky to answer. While you want to demonstrate that you’re calm under pressure, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re unfazed by stress. One approach is to describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline or deal with a difficult client, customer, or colleague and the outcome was good. This will show that you’re capable of handling stress while remaining calm and professional.
Another approach is to talk about a time when you faced a significant challenge. This could be something like having to learn a difficult new skill on the job or dealing with a crisis. While you may not have been successful in this instance, your ability to persevere in the face of adversity will reflect well on your character. Whatever approach you take, be sure to focus on how you coped with the stress in a constructive and positive way.
Here’s another quick tip: Some people will immediately go to the most difficult situation they’ve ever faced on the job. But remember, you’re just being asked to describe any difficult situation, not the most difficult situation. It’s an easy mistake to make, as the most difficult situations we’ve faced will hold prominence in our memory. Be prepared for this type of question by preparing to talk about a possible range of challenging situations you’ve overcome, without resorting to something that may have been a traumatic experience.
Aim to be clear and concise in your answers. This doesn’t mean being short, but rather taking the time to think about your responses and articulate them clearly. It’s important to answer questions completely, but sometimes feeling the need to give a longer answer means you can ramble on and lose the plot. Also, don’t feel the need to fill silent breaks with additional answers – sometimes your interviewer just needs a few moments to take some notes or collect their thoughts!
Questions to ask the interviewer
Many job seekers think that the interview process is all about giving the right answers. However, asking questions is just as important. Asking questions shows that you’ve done your research and are genuinely interested in the company. It also gives you a chance to learn more about their corporate culture and values.
When asking questions, avoid those that a quick Google search could easily answer. Instead, focus on questions that will help you better understand the company and its goals. By asking thoughtful questions, you’ll be sure to make a positive impression on your potential employer.
Some good questions to ask include:
- What are the company’s goals?
- Are there examples of how the company lives its values?
- What will your new hire will focus on in his or her first few weeks on the job?
- How do you evaluate employees and manage pay increases here?
- What is the workplace culture like?
- What are your biggest priorities in the department for the coming year, and how will this new hire help you accomplish those goals?
By asking these questions, you’ll get a sense of whether or not the company is aligned with your own values and how they view their employees. Asking questions also shows that you’re engaged and eager to learn more, both of which are positive qualities in any potential employee.
Brush up on interview skills and common questions
It’s perfectly natural to feel nervous before a job interview. The key is to channel those nerves into positive energy. Use them to focus your thoughts and give you the commitment to prepare fully for the interview. With a little bit of planning and practice, you can turn those nerves into confidence and give yourself the best chance to succeed.
In case you missed it …
If you’re new to this blog, you may have missed other articles about job interviews. Check out my two-part blog How to Stand Out in an Interview and Job Interviews … 3 Ways to Attack Anxiety When it Wants to Attack You.
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