Once upon a time, I was terrible at job interviews.
Okay, “terrible” is harsh – but you would have had to look far and wide to find someone more nervous in an interview than I was.
In each interview, I felt like I was partially on trial, and partially a contestant on “Jeopardy”. To me, the interview was a tryout… to see if I was deemed worthy. Incredibly intimidated, I rarely made it to Final Jeopardy.
Then one day I had lunch with a highly accomplished friend – a friend in the music industry who worked personally with the likes of Steven Tyler and Tommy Lee.
I was amazed when I heard how incredibly nervous she was about meeting these celebrity entrepreneurs. She would worry about her hands sweating, fumbling over words (like I do, far too often!) – or even breathing! Due to her position, however, she was continuously exposed to, and approached by quite often by, very successful men: CEOs, high-powered lawyers, professional athletes, and more rock stars.
And she was intimidated every single time.
I asked her how she overcame this obstacle, and was amazed at a very simple technique for getting over her anxiety.
She said: “in my head, I am whatever they are.”
She would meet a potential client who was a… say, CEO for some multi-national company. She said most of these men acted like they expected her to be super impressed with their big titles and achievements. So… she’d tell herself “Oh yeah? Well I’m a CEO, too. You’re not intimidating. We’re at the same level.” She said it took a bit of practice. But soon she was able to build her confidence and eliminate the intimidation because she believed (as she should) that she was “equal” to the rich and powerful person on the other side of the table.
That conversation with my friend totally changed my perspective. When I applied it to interviews, I then saw that the interviewer isn’t a judge and jury that I have to impress to show my worth. Instead, in the interview I’m there to see if the company is good enough for me…
In my next interview – shoulders back, chin firm and with newfound energy – I carried this new thought process with me. I thought “I’m here to evaluate you… to see if you meet my goals and if your company is what I’m looking for.”
I was so much more confident in interviews that I immediately and dramatically improved my interview techniques.
Now, by no means am I suggesting that you enter your next interview with an arrogant attitude. Please don’t forget that you are indeed being evaluated – etiquette and manners are extremely important.
However, if you find yourself on the “I’m gonna’ throw up” side of interviewing – change the scenario in your head. You and the interviewer are peers… equals… and they need to impress you as much as you should, them. After all, you bring valuable skills to your side of the table.
Change your mindset about interviews… by interviewing the interviewer! Then come back and let us know how it increases your confidence.
About the Author: Dave Ellis is an original member of the YouTern team and is instrumental to its success… in fact, he’s so awesome there wouldn’t be a YouTern without him (and he might have written this bio himself). Dave serves as YouTern’s Content and Community Manager, and enjoys his role as the company’s “Man Behind the Curtain”. In his spare time, Dave volunteers, rescuing and rehabilitating sea lions and baby elephant seals. Connect with Dave on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter!