As a job seeker, you’ve got a lot on your mind: researching companies, putting together your resume, applying to jobs, speaking with recruiters, networking, anxiety, nerves–the list goes on. And, all of that can build up and put a lot of pressure on you by the time you land a job interview. It can even make your head fuzzy and leave you feeling a little unsure of yourself.
But, no matter the reason, one of the biggest mistakes you can make in the job interview is feeding the interviewer fuzzy facts about yourself and your work experience.
If an interviewer can’t gain a strong sense of what you are expressing, what successes and failures you’ve had, or what your direct experience has been, it’s not likely they’re going to move you forward in the interview process.
And confidence is key here. Probably one of the biggest reasons candidates become elusive in trying to respond to an interview question is they are not confident in their response.
The best way to combat lack of confidence in the interview is preparation, both in practice and research and in your mindset of knowing what tools you can utilize to overcome obstacles in the interview.
If you’ve been guilty of giving ambiguous answers or vague responses, there are a few things you can do to restore some confidence and put yourself back in the running.
Don’t Play Leap Frog
Remember to actually answer the interview question before you provide an example. Don’t leap ahead of yourself. All too often a job seeker will stumble over themselves trying to explain a particular experience on the job that they have prepared and miss actually answering the question at hand.
Examples of how you achieved a goal are great–interviewers love them, but if you didn’t answer the question that was asked, first, you leave them in a state of confusion trying to connect the dots. If you know you’re bad at this, anticipate that and take a breath before you respond to build your response in order in your head before you speak.
Preparation, Preparation, Preparation
Know your experience and what’s on your resume, and be ready to speak to it. This shouldn’t have to be said, but many job seekers take for granted that they know their own work history and can speak to it, when they’ve actually forgotten much of their experience over time.
Before the interview break down each position, what your responsibilities were, what you accomplished both individually and as a team, and what you took away from the job (i.e. what you learned.) The more you have a good understanding of yourself, the better prepared you’re going to feel and the more confident and clear your answers in the interview will be.
Don’t be afraid to restore confidence. If you’ve ever had one of those ‘I can’t believe I said that’ moments in an interview or realize halfway through a response that you’re completely off-base in your answer, don’t be afraid to stop yourself and start again.
Address the interviewer and let them know, in a professional manner, that you realized you were getting off track or that what you said was not an appropriate response and that what you meant to say or express to them was (enter your response here.) While you still may feel a little embarrassed, you’ll gain back a few credibility points and reel the interviewer back in to what you have to say.
Always be a self-aware job candidate and listen to what you say in the interview. If an interviewer isn’t getting a clear picture of who you are, it’s probably a good reason for why you may not be landing the job. If you want the warm fuzzy feeling of being accepted into a new organization, you need to avoid feeding fuzzy facts during the interview.
Take steps to find your inner confidence, speak with direction and intent, and remember that the words you say are a direct reflection of an interviewer’s perception of your ability to do the job.