Interviews are hard.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it. They are intimidating, stress-inducing, and nerve-wracking.
The pressure is definitely ON when you’re interviewing. So what do you do to alleviate some of that tension?
You prepare right? You look up lists of commonly asked interview questions and you rehearse the perfect answer. You think of something super positive you can say in answer to “What’s your greatest weakness?” “Sometimes I spend too much time at work.” “I like to do all the work myself.” “I get really involved in everything I do.” I can see the wheels turning.
Preparation is great, until it’s not. If you have an awesome answer to “Why do you think you’re a good fit for this role?” and the interviewer throws you a curve ball with “What’s your superpower?”, you might find yourself panicking. Unless you have some sort of psychic abilities, there’s no way to know for certain what you’re going to be asked.
So other than the basic preparation, what can you do? Listen your butt off.
An interview at its most basic level, is a conversation. What’s half (or even more) of a conversation? Listening.
As a professional listener, my ear is so acutely trained that I can hear things that you think you’re not even saying. I can pick up on even the slightest subtleties. As a result, the conversations I have with my clients are focused and powerful.
Now I don’t expect you to have sonic-level hearing in an interview. You shouldn’t be able to hear the conversation next door (in fact, don’t even try). But you should really be bringing your attention to the conversation you’re having so it is clear to the interviewer that you are serious, present and focused.
Here are 4 coaching strategies that you can seriously steal and rock your next job interview.
1) Listen Actively
Ever find yourself drifting in an interview to thoughts of what you’re going to have for lunch?
You need to listen actively. That means you’re not only hearing what the interviewer is asking, but completely comprehending it. Nothing else in the world exists outside of your conversation. THAT’S active listening.
2) Stop Anticipating Questions
You did this when you were preparing for the interview. Keep your scripted answers in your back pocket to draw from them when you need to. But don’t assume that the interviewer is following some question formula, and place mental bets on what they might ask next.
Conserve your energy for actually answering the questions that ARE asked, directly, and giving the interviewer all of the right information. Let go of the need to stay one step ahead.
3) Build Your Answer Before Opening Your Mouth
What’s better? Processing what you’re going to say while the words tumble out of your mouth? Or taking a few seconds of silence to ponder your answer and craft a well-thought out answer? I think the latter.
You may think that you look incompetent if you don’t answer the interviewer’s question 2 milliseconds after they ask it, but this simply isn’t the case. Taking a moment to formulate your answer in your mind, so you can speak it with confidence, makes you appear thoughtful and pulled-together. So give yourself a few seconds to ponder. That silence won’t kill you.
4) Use WAIT (Why Am I Talking?)
Speaking of silence…
I bet you’ve experienced this before. You’re not sure how much information to give the interviewer, so you just keep talking and talking and talking and what you say starts to sound nonsensical or go around in circles. That’s an awful feeling. I’ve done it myself.
Don’t talk yourself into a hole.
Use this really handy acronym: W.A.I.T = Why Am I Talking? So when you find yourself speaking during an interview, ponder if what you’re saying is answering the question or if it’s added fluff. If it’s added fluff, quickly get to the point and stop talking until the interviewer asks you the next question.
So on your next interview, give these listening strategies a try. I bet you’ll walk out with that fantastic feeling of “I nailed it.”