Interviews, in some ways, are like tests in school. There are some people who don’t have to study and end up setting the curve; there are those who can scrape by and occasionally think on their feet in order to pass; and then there are the people who study for days, but when a surprise question hits them, they panic. But just like taking a test in school, the best thing to do to ace an interview for a job you know you can do is prepare and be confident.
Preparing doesn’t mean rehearsing every possible question and memorizing every answer. Preparation is about getting comfortable with the material, so you have the confidence to tackle any question thrown your way. And in this case, the material is you.
Most of us know to research a potential employer and the company prior to an interview, to learn everything we can about them, but we oftentimes do not do the same for ourselves, aside from skimming and updating our resume and memorizing some basic responses.
When was the last time you sat down and really got comfortable with yourself, your work history, or even the skills you’ve developed outside of work, at school, through your hobbies, or in your daily routine?
Many of us never seriously ponder the ways in which we’ve grown or developed our skills over time. More often than not, we are so focused on what’s in front of us (the interview, finding a job, how to be successful in our careers) that we forget about our big accomplishments and what we actually did to get there. We know we can do the job we applied for, but we forget to ask ourselves why we can do the job. That’s one of the big questions the employer or recruiter is trying to find out in the interview.
Take some time to sit with your resume and not only ask yourself what you did in each position, but what you accomplished, how you affected the work environment, and what results you achieved. And don’t just stop at work; apply these same thoughts to your life. Why?—because you will rediscover facts about yourself that you had forgotten, facts that will give you renewed confidence and boost your self-esteem, facts that will make you feel more prepared than any amount of memorization can.
Don’t fret if nothing comes to you right away. Sometimes we need reminders, like thinking about our best and worst memories of our former jobs (and I include worst, because sometimes great achievement comes from adversity.) Asking a family member or trusted friend what they remember about you working at a company, their proudest memories of you, or even calling an old co-worker to reminisce can also jog your memory. When you do start to recall your experiences with more clarity, you may be surprised at just how much you have accomplished.
Now that you’re filled with a newfound confidence, don’t forget to talk through your resume, work experience, and your accomplishments with someone you trust (or even in the mirror.) Then, go one step further and draw your experience back to why you’re qualified for the job. You might even jot down a few talking points for each item or discover new bullet points to add to your resume.
Talking through your experience with someone is not about memorizing; it’s about getting comfortable with you. Sometimes we freeze up in interviews, stumble with our words, or sound unnatural when we’re nervous or unsure how to answer a question. Most of us just aren’t accustomed to speaking openly about ourselves.
The more time you take to prepare by getting in touch with you and hear yourself talk about why you’re qualified, what you can do, and what you have done, the more confident you will become, and that confidence will come through in your interview. Success!