By Judi Perkins
If you haven't looked for a job in a while, skydiving might be preferable to interviewing. But there are a few simple steps that will remove the fear and give you the confidence you'd otherwise wish you had.
1. Be Prepared
Common sense says you need to research the company via their website, brochures or the library, although you'd be surprised at how many skip the obvious. Basics also include bringing a few extra copies of your resume to hand out if necessary, arriving early, dressing professionally, and knowing what you have to offer the company.
2. Ask for Details
But those are no-brainers, or they should be. What even experienced interviewers often fail to do is ask, in detail, about the position. So get away from the job description and dig into the actuality of that job in that company, as it stands right now. Find out why the position is open and how long it's been vacant. Ask also how long the previous person was there. If that person was there less than two years, find out how long the previous person was there. If both are short, chances are you won't be there long either.
You want to know what the first priority to be addressed is, if there's a time frame for accomplishing it, and if so, what it is. Is it a realistic one? And overall, in what condition is the job you'll be picking up? Is it maintenance? Troubleshooting and clean up? Is there smooth, accelerated growth? And how do the answers sit with you?
3. Sell Yourself First
The toughest thing about interviewing is that you need to find out about the position and sell yourself as the one for the job - concurrently. That means you're going after it before you even know if you want it. Process it later. It's easier to close the door than open it when it's too late. In the meantime, to stay in control of your career, if what you're hearing is agreeable to you, then show enthusiasm and throw the stiff formality out the window.
4. Create a Dialogue Versus a "Q&A Session"
Interviews should be dialogues, not question and answer sessions. You can't change the subject, but you can ask a question about the topic that's on the table. This gives you additional insight into the position and what they're looking for. It also helps the part of your background that you want to talk about, leaving you less likely to ramble on, hoping something will be impressive.
5. Stay in Control of Your Body Language
You can also ask for clarification if something sounds a little... off. But pay attention to your tone of voice and your body language. A furrowed brow, a puzzled tone, and a curled lip are much more off putting than an interested tone, a smile, and a relaxed open manner. The latter shows genuine interest in the details. The former can sometimes be construed as the mark of a difficult person. Pretend you're interviewing with a friend's company, and it's just a formality. How would you be sitting? Sounding? What would your word choices be? Because self confidence has a completely different look and feel to it, and companies don't want to hire desperate people. Companies want to be specifically chosen for who they are and what they offer; just like you do.