A job interview is stressful for even the strongest folks.
Someone who says they just love job interviews is probably lying.
What is it about interviewing that makes most people uncomfortable? Many people don’t like talking about themselves. It feels like bragging. We’ve been conditioned since youth to be modest, that bragging is impolite. Suddenly a job interview forces us to brag all over ourselves.
Some people face job interviews wanting something so badly that they would do or say anything to make it happen, certainly making the situation so much worse.
Job interviews make many people feel vulnerable and exposed. They feel powerless in a power loaded situation.
Ever felt that way? I know I have. Early in my career I got laid off quite a few times in the difficult financial environment in the 1980s. I remember feeling like a big failure face. Standing on the Michigan Avenue Bridge during lunch hour one summer I remember thinking, “What is wrong with me?” All those other people have jobs and I don’t.
As a shy person I found the entire job search process, not to mention the job interview, made me feel vulnerable and powerless.
This situation reinforces feelings of fear and inadequacy shy people often feel already. Those little voices in your head that warn you that you are not good enough simply won’t shut up during (and before and even after) a job interview. It brings out the most vulnerable aspects of shy people.
Here are some tips for shy people (and others too!) to face job interviews with confidence:
- Don’t think about bragging. Think about the stories about projects or experiences that went well. Then create stories about those experiences. Talk about the other people, the environment, how it turned out. This is not bragging. It is simply sharing a story about a real situation. The story will make you look good whether you realize it or not.
- Be prepared. What two or three things do you want to be sure the hiring manager knows about you at the end of the interview. Build answers to the Frequently Asked Questions around those key points. Find stories to tell about situations that reinforce those key points. Being prepared will make you more confident.
- Make eye contact and smile with a firm handshake when you meet people during an interview. This builds bridges with people and gives a good first impression. It also makes you feel more confident. Consider it sort of “faking it till you make it”.
- Dress for success. Wear your best clothes that are appropriate for the position you want to hold. Get your shoes polished. Get a haircut. Look the part and you will feel the part.
- Calm yourself. Consider using some meditation techniques to calm yourself in the car prior to the interview.
- Do some power poses in the bathroom prior to the interview. Take a few deep breathes and feel like a superhero for a few minutes. That feeling will follow you in to the interview.
- Practice, practice, practice. Write out your strategic points and the answers to all the frequently asked questions then practice then out loud until the answers come out smoothly. I tell clients to practice until your dog stops laughing because your responses will sound silly at first.
- Get a coach to prepare for an important interview. Why take a chance? Don’t wing it. Get professional help to seal the deal!