The Interview: A Survival Guide

So, after all you did, you’re finally here.

After weeks of phone calls, emails, and long nights scouring online postings, you’ve reached the most arduous, delicate, and decisive trail before you get that shiny new job: The interview. Your hair is combed, your business attire is clean and pressed, and your breath smells like you’re channeling the god of wintergreen. It’s a good thing you brought that extra copy of your resume! You did grab it off the kitchen table, right?

Right?

Job interviews, much like public speaking and academic exams, are a common source of anxiety for many people, and for fair reasons – your future hinging on the outcome of a 30 minute, closed door conversation with a complete stranger? What reason would someone have not to be intimidated? On top of that, the interviewing process is essentially a contest between you and every other person that got the same call that you did. But here’s the bright side, you did get that call to set up an interview. Which means you’ve already beat-out the 50+ people that didn’t get that call. You’ve passed the elimination round, meaning you’re qualified. Now you just need to prove in person that you’re most qualified.

When you ask around for interviewing advice, someone’s liable to tell you to rehearse. Rehearse? Interviews might be as nerve-racking as public speaking for some people, but you’re not reading from a script or memorizing a speech. Interviews are dynamic and can change course in an instant depending on how you answer (or don’t answer) certain questions. That’s not to say, however, that practice will hurt your chances in there – quite the opposite. But rather than grabbing just anyone and making them uncomfortable as you sit across from them (also looking uncomfortable) as they read from a list of questions you handed them, why not find someone who’s actually done some interviewing in their lives? They can give you a more authentic experience and can change up the routine each time to keep you on your toes. No two interviews will be the same, so why should your mock-interviews?

It may only be a 30 or so minute conversation, but you can learn quite a lot about someone in that time; most importantly, how determined they are to land the job – and by extension, how determined they’ll be to keep it. Along with whatever textbook interview questions you’re sure to be asked, a seasoned interviewer is bond to play mind games with you to test your fragility and try to slip you up: They’ll offer you water, offer a handshake in an odd fashion, or conduct the interview in a restaurant to observe your etiquette. It’s all a test (which is why some of the same people with test-anxiety feel similarly about interviews).

Here’s what you need to remember: Interviewing for a job is like trying to get a girl or a guy you’re sweet on to go out with you. You cannot appear desperate. Desperation in an interview is a telltale sign of a lack of confidence in yourself and in your capabilities. If you’re unsure of yourself, why should the person interviewing you be sure? What’s more, you want your love interest (in this case, job interest) to have an interest in you and peruse you as you pursue them. This is especially useful to those with more experience and possess more sought-after skills. If the interviewer is sure that they have you, they will begin to look for reasons not to choose you. To that end, you must make yourself as indispensable and interesting as you can.

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