Think about the last time you were nervous before a big exam. You were probably nervous because you were unprepared. We’ve all been there -- that feeling you get when you turn in the exam without an ounce of confidence, thinking, “I totally just bombed that.” Sound familiar? Now replace the exam with an important job interview -- only instead of receiving a letter grade, you receive a job offer (hopefully).
Lack of preparation is one of the main reasons students and recent grads get incredibly nervous before an interview. The good news is you’re more in control of the interview than you may think. So if you’re ready to walk into your next interview more prepared and confident than any of the other interviewees, here are the four things you must do to prepare:
1. Interview yourself first.
One of the most difficult questions to answer in an interview (in my opinion) is, “What can you bring to this position that no one else can?” In other words, “Why you?”
I can easily talk about my past internship experiences, how I became interested in marketing, and my favorite course in college -- but talking about what specifically sets me apart from every other job candidate wasn’t an answer I just happened to have up my sleeve. I had to first ask myself a lot of questions before anyone else did.
I want you to take out a piece of paper right now and write down these three questions, leaving space to take notes and write in your answers:
(1) What are you known for and awesome at?
(2) What do you offer and do that is significantly different from what the best in your field do?
(3) What are your core values: The non-negotiables you need in life to be happy and fulfilled?
These three questions provide a solid foundation for answers to interview questions like, “Why do you want this job?” and ultimately, “Why you?”
Start your self-interview today. Not just to prepare yourself for job interviews, but to gain a personal and honest understanding of who you are, what you want and why you want it.
2. Research (and understand) the company.
No, you probably won’t be quizzed in your interview about when the company was founded or why their logo is designed the way it is, but how cool is it to have the opportunity to leverage that knowledge in an interview given the right situation.
On the other hand, understanding the company is expected. One time in an interview I was asked what the company’s five core values were. Had I not done my research and taken notes, I would have not only been incredibly embarrassed and ill prepared, but I also wouldn’t have received the job offer.
3. Draft potential interview questions you’ll ask and answer.
Your resume is only a general guide for the interviewer, so prepare to answer questions outside of topics listed on your resume. To do so, it’s important to draft a list of potential interview questions long before the actual interview. Luckily, there are tons of lists out there that already exist. Google search “Top questions asked in an interview” and you’ll find tons of reputable lists, like Forbes’ Top 50 Interview Questions.
Once you draft questions, it’s crucial that you jot down questions you have for them. Even if you don’t have any at the time, make some up! Asking the interviewer a question at the end of your interview makes you seem a lot more interested and engaged in the position.
4. Visualize the interview.
Studies have shown how much of an impact visualization has on specific outcomes. It’s like tricking our brain into thinking that what we’re visualizing is actually reality. So go ahead! Visualize yourself as an incredibly confident, prepared and knowledgeable candidate for the job, and you’re more likely to come across that way. Take it a step further and imagine leaving the interview with a posture that makes you feel like you got the job. It may sound silly, but wait to laugh until you see its power working in your favor!
Image at top courtesy of Corbis. The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers.