By Jaymie Pompeo, GCDF
Contributor, Career Services
Developing anxiety right before an interview is a feeling I know well. There’s a tendency to prepare for the big day much like an actor with stage fright prepares for a performance. You over-rehearse your lines and attempt to project an ideal image, which nevertheless doesn’t feel authentic.
Part of mastering the interview experience is the confidence you show in talking about yourself. There’s so much focus on what we think an employer wants to see that we often overlook a critical step – figuring out who we are as it relates to the desired opportunity.
It’s crucial to spend time discovering the unique qualities that make you stand out as a candidate. Only then will your nerves dissipate as you clearly communicate the benefits you offer an employer.
The next time the pre-interview jitters get the better of you, take a deep breath and reflect on the following advice.
Know What You Want in Your Next Job
When you seek a new opportunity, there’s a perpetual wish list in your mind. Thinking about your preferences and understanding why this new opportunity is attractive will help pinpoint the reasons that motivate you. Prepare to ask yourself questions such as:
- Why do I want to work for this employer?
- What specific qualities in this job role appeal to me?
- Does this employer offer a work environment I’ll feel comfortable in?
Identify Your Relevant Strengths as A Candidate
You’ve read the job description. If you were the interviewer, consider the types of competencies you would want your candidates to have. From there, recognize the greatest talents you have to offer and gather your best stories that demonstrate these qualities. Ask yourself:
- What unique skills and experiences do I possess that are essential to this opportunity?
- What are my professional accomplishments that best exemplify these skills and experiences?
- What new ideas can I bring to this organization?
Know How to Explain Your Weaknesses
Everyone has room for improvement in certain areas and an employer expects to hear about your imperfections. Understand what these weak areas are for you and be comfortable in explaining your plan to overcome them. Use these prompts and ask yourself:
- What skills would I like to improve?
- What are my areas of weakness?
- How do I plan to overcome them?
Define Your Career Goals
The interview is a conversation that determines whether there’s a right fit for you and the employer. Part of this “fit” involves assessing your level of commitment. Spend time thinking about your professional aspirations and be prepared to share the following with a potential employer:
- What do I want to accomplish within the next one to three years?
- What professional accomplishments would I like to make in the next five years?
- How will this opportunity/employer help me achieve them?
Having a strong sense of self allows you to boldly approach any setting where the topic is you. By following this advice, you’ll notice how your confidence grows in the way you articulate yourself – and you will have the ability to crush those interview jitters indefinitely.
About the Author
Jaymie is the Career Exploration Specialist for Career Services and is a certified Global Career Development Facilitator. She has 10 years’ experience in providing education and career guidance through varied roles in Career Services, Academic Advising and Human Resources. Her current specialty involves collaborating with undecided students and alumni through the career exploration process to pinpoint career possibilities that are a true fit for each individual.
Ready When You Are
At American Public University, students are priority one. We are committed to providing quality education, superior student resources, and affordable tuition. In fact, while post-secondary tuition has risen sharply nationwide, the university continues to offer affordable tuition without sacrificing academic quality.