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31st Oct 2017

Four simple steps to Interview Success

It’s that time of the week again and we’ve another fantastic blog from Sinead Sharkey of Generation Women, this week she shares with us how to stand out in your career.

From nerves to making the right impact at interview. This is it. You’ve seen a job you would love to go for, you read the spec and think, yes!  I can go for this. Then...the little voice in your heard starts.

“But you haven’t done an interview in years, don’t be ridiculous, you can’t do this”

Or

“Interviews are scary, you’ll likely go to pieces, so what’s the point”

And you start listening to it, wondering if you should just not bother because you’ll only be a bundle of nerves.

Wouldn’t it be great if things could be different?  Imagine being able to walk into an interview feeling confident. You walk in, shake hands with the panel, sit down and blow them away with your knowledge and experience, and walk out knowing you nailed it. Does that sound appealing?

When you can manage your nerves, and have a few tricks for how to prepare, it makes all the difference. I know, because I coach people on this all the time, and they get the job!

Here’s my 4 P’s for interview success:

Perspective

When we’re afraid of something, you get it out of perspective. Your risk-averse brain is trying to keep you in your comfort zone, where it’s nice and safe. Your emotional brain takes over and amplifies all the reasons why you shouldn’t, and turns the volume down on why you should. The quickest way to engage the more rational part of the brain is to ask yourself a question or 2.

‘What would it mean for me to get this?’

When you focus on the outcome and value to you, you’re will take action.

You can also get perspective on your nerves by reframing them. We think of nerves as bad things that sabotage us, when really, they can help you perform better.  Did you know that nerves and excitement have the same feeling associated with them?  When you feel the nerves start to bubble up, tell yourself ‘this is an exciting opportunity’ and it changes the butterflies from a negative to a positive.

Preparation

You don’t go and do an exam without putting in a bit of revision time. An interview is the same. Getting the balance right is important too, so don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to learn too much.

Research the company. Check their website, look for recent news stories, reach out to your network. What can you find out about them in advance?

If it’s a competency based interview, prepare a set of 5-7 examples that you can use. Follow the STAR methodology:

Situation - what was the context?

Task - what outcome was desired?  What was the scope of the task?

Action - what steps did you take to get you to the result you needed?

Result - what were the outcomes? Quantify where possible, and think of secondary gains such as the development of a new process or network too.

When you’re prepared you’ll feel at ease.

Practice

You can’t expect to perform well without a bit of rehearsal; both physical and mental.

Physical rehearsal is all about talking to yourself!  It may be the first sign of madness, but it really helps you prepare. You’ll hear how you sound, and it will get you into the rhythm of answering in the STAR way. Let’s face it, it’s not a normal way to speak, so this helps you get used to it.

Mental practice is visualising a successful process. Play it like a movie in your mind, from getting ready in your perfect outfit, right through to walking out of the interview knowing you’ve aced it. The more detail the better. This helps your brain manage the uncertainty, and challenges you to think about what success looks like.

Presence

Presence is all about making the right impact.  When you walk in with your head held high, you make good eye contact, and have strong posture, these are all things that portray confidence. Start with your posture. If you have to do a presentation, make sure you stand balanced on both feet. Take a moment to breathe deeply into your belly, and picture yourself being strong.

Equally, when you’re seated, put both feet on the ground, your bum to the back of the seat, shoulders back, and breathe into your belly. When your body feels strong, your mind does too, plus it increases the air of confidence that you have.

Make good eye contact, practice a firm handshake, and relax. You got this!

There you have it, my 4 P’s for interview success. If you want to take your performance to the next level, then coaching is the best next step. Good luck!

Sinead is the Founder of Generation Women, and is a Career and Leadership Coach. She has almost 20 years’ experience of developing leaders in global corporates. Her passion for helping women excel in their careers has resulted in her clients landing the jobs they want, being head hunted, and stepping up into leadership with confidence.

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