In the past six months I have been to over a dozen job interviews. I HATE job interviews! You have to look, act, talk, and walk a certain way. You have to perform for a panel of people who, quite frankly, aren’t very important in the broad scheme of things. I mean, they may be in charge of their world, but their world is a rather small pebble in this great river we are living in. Even if you are interviewing with someone who has a lot of power like Oprah Winfrey, there is still a greater world of opportunity and growth outside that globe of power. But we have to do it, we have to dance that dance in an effort to make a living.
I have not yet gotten the great news phone call that I have been waiting for, but at least I got a great blog topic for this month. There must be thousands of people right now who are going through the same interview blues. For those people, I will dispense some of the lessons I have learned from my past failed interviewing experiences. If even one person ends up with a new, lucrative job because one of these tips helped with the whole interviewing process, then this was a good thing.
Always make ample use of the rest room BEFORE the interview.
Leaving for your interview early is never bad.
I have always been the type of person who has to pee a lot when nervous. Once, when I was nineteen, I had a job interview at a pottery painting place. Before I left for the interview I felt the usual urge to urinate but I wanted to get to the interview early. So, I decided to go when I got there and left with a full bladder. I got stuck in traffic, and only had two minutes left before the interview. With no time to go at a nearby place of business, I decided I would just have to ask to use the restroom once I got there. I had a major case of the potty dance jiggles when I asked to use the ladies room, and was told that it was out of order due to a water main busting. I was told to wait on a plastic chair next to their sink, and before I knew it, MY water main had busted. I immediately began to panic, and went into clean up mode. I grabbed some paper towels, cleaned up what I could and booked it out of there! Needless to say, I did not get the job, but I did learn to go BEFORE the interview and not during. I am sure that is a given for most people.
Also, it doesn’t hurt to leave for the interview thirty minutes early in case something terrible (like bad traffic) happens along the way. For a job interview, fifteen minutes early is on time!
One of my least favorite interview questions has always been: Tell me about yourself.
That isn’t even a question, and it shouldn’t be allowed!
I was once in an interview with a music professor who was looking for an assistant. She asked that dreaded, inevitable question.
“Can you tell me about yourself?”
At least she had the decency to word it as a question.
I thought fast, and just started talking.
“Well, I like animals, movies, cheese, and ice cream – I mean – not together of course. Cheese ice cream would be gross. They could be good though – I don’t know, I never tried it – Oh – and there is cheese cake. So, you never know, they ARE both dairy.”
I did not get that job either. I DID learn how to prepare for an interview. The internet has every question known to man that an interviewer can ask during an interview. All one really needs to do is search for them, and print them out. If you are really lucky, the company you are interviewing for will be on one of those awesome sites like glassdoor.com. They will give you information on what they look for, what they like to hear in an interview, and all the questions they’re likely to ask you. If you want to be extra prepared, you can have a friend or family member run through the questions with you to make sure you have the perfect answer for each and every one.
I also noticed interviewers will sometimes ask what you know about the company and why you want to work for them. This is where you have the perfect opportunity to really shine. Those interviewers just LOVE when you know the whole history of the company and what they do for the world around them. You LOVE their company! Ever since you were a small child you have wanted to work for their company! Okay, maybe don’t say that, but definitely mention it is a huge opportunity to be sitting there. It is also good to know all the requirements of the position you are interviewing for, and mention the experience you have doing those tasks during the interview.
RELEASE THE JITTERS!
Usually, during most of the interviews I’ve had, I feel the nervous, anxiety jitters. One time, during an interview with a photography studio, I got so jittery and nervous that I fell right off my chair, and stuttered so badly afterward that I could not answer a question without seeming like I was having a seizure. I DID get that job surprisingly, but I learned a valuable lesson about how to relieve those jitters before an interview. Ever since, they haven’t been a huge problem.
I do a whole three step routine before every interview now. It has been ridiculously successful at relieving anxiety and the nervous jitters.
Step 1: work out for thirty minutes (I like to walk or jog), but make sure the work out is fun. Play a game if you have to, jump rope like you are a nine year old, do cart wheels and jumping jacks.
Step 2: Once you take a nice cool shower, go to a quiet place and meditate. Clear your thoughts, your worries, and hold that until you feel something between relaxed and joyful. Picture the interview going well in your mind, and just hold it there for ten to fifteen minutes.
Step 3: Try to stretch out and make yourself as large as possible. Stay in what is commonly known as the “Hero Pose” (like Super Man, or the hulk before he smashes something) for at least fifteen minutes. There is a lot of scientific study and logical mumbo jumbo behind this, and quite frankly I am not so good at remembering big words, but basically, it changes chemicals in your brain to make you feel more confident and less stressed.
Be aware of your surroundings:
One of my most disastrous interviews happened at a grocery store. I was told to wait by the bagging area until the manager was free. For a purse I wore a bucket bag with leather straps, and as I stood there I didn’t notice one of the straps got hooked on the metal stand that holds the bags. The manager came out, and I was instructed to follow him. As I walked away I took the whole rack of grocery bags with me. When it swung down from the shelf it was on, it bounced off my fat butt and into a display of cans they had next to the register. Cans rolled everywhere, and it was quite loud. I did not get the job.
I did learn to always be aware of your surroundings, making sure to pay close attention to all the doors, desks, and knobs. Not having cumbersome bags or jewelry is also always a good idea.
While there are many more lessons I have learned the hard way, I feel that these four are the most important. If you do not find these tips at all helpful, it is my deepest hope that you found these stories entertaining. If nothing else, in the future, if you have a terrible interview, you can immediately feel better by thinking: Yeah, but I didn’t pee anywhere I wasn’t supposed to. Don’t worry if you got turned down for a job recently, my friend. I have faith that you will get the perfect job soon.