Clients regularly contact us before a job interview for advice and to prep, usually several days in advance though sometimes several hours or even minutes before. The ability to sell and market ourselves is key to effective interviewing; it’s a delicate balance between psychology, attitude and, of course, skills and abilities. With this in mind, we are careful not to push the wrong buttons right before a client’s interview, a time when emotions and anxieties are at a high pitch. Rather than a quick review of answers and questions they should have prepared for or dwell on the research, networking and homework that they should do, we focus on three key strategies to prepare them for the “psychology” of the interview conversation. These simple strategies “to get psyched” are crucial to shifting our thinking and building confidence before any interview.
- The interview is a two-way discussion between professionals.
Regardless of your education, experience or job title, we all bring specific talents and skills, experiences, and attitudes to our work and an interview that make us unique. It’s understanding your uniqueness through self-evaluation and being able to sell it authentically, using your personality and communications skills, that gives you an edge in the interview process.
We have to recognize that, regardless of our position levels/status and the levels/status of the interviewers, we are all professionals and that the interview is nothing more than an opportunity for both sides to understand each other. Remember, you bring a great deal to the interview table; you wouldn’t even have the interview if you didn’t meet the position requirements. The interviewer looks at this two-way discussion as an opportunity to assess the candidate’s skills, behaviors, experiences, attitude and confidence. Are they serious or just “tire kicking?” Can you, the job prospect, help their team improve quality, customer service, save money or generate revenue?
As the interviewee, you’re likewise thinking: Is this the right boss, team and work environment for me? Is it a good match for my career direction, interests, skills and strengths? Can I add value? Even if you get the offer, you don’t have to take it if it is not the right fit or move. Both sides want a “win-win” opportunity. The interview is a two-way discussion between professionals. Best to approach it that way.
- The interviewer is your customer. Rather than approach the interview as a potential “ambush” or negative, defensive experience, prepare by viewing the interviewer as your customer, which they are. You want to go into the meeting to better understand the interviewer’s needs, challenges, and problem areas, through your research and by asking positive yet probing questions. In the heat of the interview, you should constantly be thinking, “How can I serve? How can I support you and your team? What are your needs, challenges and concerns?” We need to be confident in our work background and uniqueness and be able to identify ways in which we can support and meet the interviewer’s needs and help solve their problems.
Therefore, our focus is not so much on the defense — “What are they going to ask me? How should I respond?” — but instead using active listening, asking the right questions to understand their needs, and then responding with specific accomplishments, behaviors and skills that we possess to support their position requirements. After all, that’s really what the interviewer is hoping for.
- You know more about yourself than any interviewer. No one understands or knows what you are good at, your skills, behaviors, contributions, interests and aptitudes, better than you do, regardless of whether we’ve been through any formal self-assessment or evaluation process. If we sat down for an hour or two and asked you every tough interview question we can muster and gave you all the time to think it through and respond, there is no doubt you would have an answer for nearly every question. You know your skills and contributions better than anyone. You have the answers but sometimes get stymied or embarrassed about blowing your own horn in the heat of the interview. Remember, to the interviewer, you’re a blank slate; you have an opportunity to tell your story with your voice. Take advantage of it.
As you prepare for any interview, keep in mind the importance of this delicate balance of attitude and psychology. How we view the psychology of the interview process affects our confidence, how we sell ourselves, our skills and abilities, and how our customer interviewers receive us. Understanding that the interview is a two-way discussion between two professionals, that the interviewer is a customer, and that we know ourselves, our skills and strengths far better than any interviewer are three strategies to “getting psyched” to win any interview. We also recommend going into an interview with a short prayer for yourself and the interviewer, or a brief meditation, to help settle your thoughts and focus you. Using these strategies, along with thorough research, preparation and practice, you will come to the interview knowing that at the very least you are on a level playing field with your interviewers, if not at a distinct advantage. And that’s where you want to be.