One of the most important factors affecting a person’s interview performance is their confidence level. I have known a number of candidates that lose all of their confidence the second they step into an interview. This can be devastating.
For example, a long time ago, I was working with a person that was worried about interviewing. When I say worried, I’m not sure I’m really capturing the situation – terrified and paralyzed with fear are probably closer to the truth.
To deal with his concerns, he spent a weekend preparing – from Friday night, non-stop until Sunday night. You may have an idea of what came next.
Monday’s phone interview started on time. The candidate had rehearsed this over and over and over again. The interviewer planned to do a quick skills assessment and then schedule an interview with the primary hiring manager. The questions were pretty basic.
With all the preparation and rehearsing, and a set of easy questions, the candidate should have hit a homerun. That, of course, didn’t happen. The candidate had rehearsed so much that he expected specific questions, a certain style of interview. In his preparation, he had scripted what the interviewer should say.
When the interviewer asked a question he didn’t expect – he froze. He could not answer the question. After a long, awkward pause, he said he was very nervous and didn’t expect that question. He then asked if the interviewer would mind if they started the interview over, including hanging up and calling back. The second he said this, he was done.
The problem was a lack of confidence. The job seeker wasn’t comfortable interviewing. He prepared alone but never practiced the one thing that could have helped him – responding to unpredictable questions asked by a live person.
I do a lot of interview coaching. The primary way I teach interviewing is through practice interviews. I strive to develop a list of questions that are unexpected and challenging for the job seeker to answer. By simulating a real interview, the people I coach are much more relaxed in interviews and are able to take their time and think about their answers.
When you are preparing for an interview, make sure you get some live practice. Find someone that can simulate a real interview – ideally someone you don’t know very well. Even better, select someone that intimidates you a little. The more uncomfortable you can make the situation, the easier the real interviews will be. If you can’t find someone to do this, find an interview coach to interview you.