Feeling nervous before a job interview? If your answer is yes, you are not alone. A 2020 research study by JDP found that 93% of American job seekers report some levels of anxiety and discomfort before a job interview. Other research studies report similar statistics – over 90% of people preparing for a meeting for a prospective new work position associate with feelings of apprehension, tension, and even fear.
It should not then come as a surprise that certain emotions are intensified for those who identify with Imposter Syndrome. In fact, I’m yet to find a client who doesn’t say they have Imposter Syndrome yet do not feel anxious before an interview. They often say the opposite where many fears come to mind – fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of not saying anything, or fear of being exposed as a fraud.
I see many professionals talk about and spend a great deal of time preparing for the technical aspects of a job. While important, chances are that that’s less than half of what the interviewer is evaluating for. More and more, interviewers are concerned about the emotional intelligence of the candidate and will evaluate the outcome of the discussion often on how the candidate answers behavioral questions.
To present your best self in an interview involves having a certain mindset before walking into the meeting situation. By mindset, I’m referring to having a certain set of beliefs, thoughts, and attitude around yourself that is going to result in the intended results and outcomes you are looking to achieve.
I’ve conducted hundreds of interviews over my career and the most memorable ones have 4 similar elements. Thus, I have devised the 4C Mindset model for successful interviewing.
Comfort is about feeling at ease and being in a state of solace or contentment. Picture yourself in a setting where you feel most comfortable, such as a room in your home. When you walk into the interview, imagine it’s happening in that favorite room in your home.
Believe it or not, you may not be the only one feeling uncomfortable entering an interview. Interviewers are selected for numerous reasons, some of which could include not wanting to be included but are being required to participate in the process. Some interviewers can also be introverted and feel uncomfortable with meeting new people.
When considering your own comfort in the interview, one strategy I also use is to think about how to make the interviewer comfortable. Consider smiling a bit more and showcasing positive body language. The more the interviewer feels more comfortable with you, the more they will imagine how you can make others comfortable around you on the team you would be working with.
Conversation is about a free-flowing exchange of ideas between the candidate and the interviewer. This is different from a question and answer type of exchange where it’s primarily one side asking the questions and the other side answering them.
The goal with an interview is to get it into a conversation where it feels that both parties are interjecting ideas and thoughts. Let the interviewer see how you would be approachable with others and how you would be open to various ideas including contrary points of view.
Some phrases that you could try to spark more conversation in an interview include:
“That’s a great question. I’d like to address it in the following way…” (and then respond with asking a similar question back to the interviewer). Engage the interviewer with asking open-ended questions – those that start with the word “What” or “How.”
Connection is about finding some common ground where it creates a link between the candidate and the interviewer.
You want to be memorable. Yes your answers are important, but so are the stories that you can tell. A connection is about creating an emotional exchange where the interviewer can feel something from their conversation with you. And you want those feelings to be engaging, motivational, and positive. The interviewer needs to leave the room supporting you to be their best choice and if they feel some type of bond with you, they will.
As you are engaging in conversation, deepen your listening skills. Hear not only what they are saying, but how they are saying and what they are feeling as they say it. Bring up something relatable to what they are speaking about. A sample question could be about what makes them engaged to work in the unit they are in? And then connect their answer to one of your own elements of engagement.
Confidence is showing feelings and beliefs of self-assurance and certainty in your skills, abilities, and experience to positively be leveraged for the position at hand.
Whether you are applying for a management position or an individual contributor, all interviewers are looking for strong leadership qualities. They do not want to see doubt or fear in a candidate, but want to see confidence. And they want to see authentic confidence – not a “fake it til you make it” type. Showcase your genuine self and your true strengths.
This is where I coach clients to spend the most time preparing for an interview. Write out your strengths and values. Take time to jot down numerous accomplishments. Don’t assume your years of experience or position and title or resume will all speak for these. You will have to present them. And the first step in presenting them authentically and confidently is truly believing and honoring them.
When it comes to interviewing, always remember that you are in the driver’s seat. You have the power of the decision to accept or reject an offer. And if you don’t get the chance to make the decision one time, you will the next time.
You are evaluating the job/role/company more than they are evaluating you.
If you are having any trouble in the 4Cs of successful interviewing, feel free to reach out – firstname.lastname@example.org