“We simply assume that the way we see things is the way they really are or the way they should be. And our attitudes and behaviors grow out of these assumptions.” By Stephen Covey
Like many people before me, I went to college, graduated and found myself looking for a much needed career. I submitted literally hundreds of resumes to various companies. To my own astonishment you could imagine how I felt when I either did not get called for an interview or received the company standard “don’t call us we’ll call you” form letter.
So I did some research and changed my approach by customizing my resumes and cover letters for the companies that I was applying to. This seemed to work for me as I started getting some interviews. However, what I learned quickly is that my interview skills flat out sucked.
I was very soft in my speaking, my handshake was terrible, and I paused and stuttered too much as if I were looking for the answers somewhere in the room. That was just interview number one. Interviews were a lot more different than the fast food job I had in high school. I needed to fine tune my skills so that the interviewer did not think I was a bumbling idiot.
In the town where I lived the local government had free workshops of which one was for interviewing. I immediately signed up. It was a one on one session with a volunteer who worked full time as an HR person for a local company. They treated it as if it were a real interview. I made it about 30 seconds before she stopped me and in not so many words said, “My God you are terrible at this.” Continuing she said, “Have you ever interacted with people before?”
At first I was offended, but she was right I was bad. She gave me some pointers on how to be better at the interview and believe it or not they weren’t life changing alterations. For example, sit up straight. Sitting up straight gives the look of confidence. Slouching is sloppy looking and looks lazy. Look the interviewer in the eye. The person doing the interview does not have laser beams shooting out of their eyes so don’t be afraid to look at the person. They aren’t Medusa and you won’t turn to stone. Give a firm handshake but not too firm. A good handshake also gives off confidence.
I worked on each and every one of those skills with this person. Over and over we went through each step until it was nearly perfect. By the time I left that session which was about an hour and a half to two hours long (if I remember correctly), I believe I had perfected the interview process.
I wasn’t done yet. I signed up for the interview session again this time getting someone different. I wanted to see what a new pair of eyes and ears on my interviewing skills, that I had now learned, looked like to someone who never met me.
This time it was a person who did interviews for the City Government. I sat down and he proceeded to interview me as if I were applying for a job. He commented at how well I did, that I made good eye contact; my answers were good but could be more thorough. He made some minor adjustments on some things, mostly in how I answered questions, but other than that, he said I was ready.
It took me five interviews before I landed a position. What I found during this entire job interviewing process was that with each interview I went on I became better and better at it until I finally landed the job.
A few years ago I found myself being the one doing the interviewing. Talk about coming full circle. I saw in a lot of candidates the mistakes that I myself had made. So being able to see both sides of the interview process has been very rewarding to me on a personal and professional level.
If you are looking for your first job or tense up when it comes to interviewing for a new position check into some local training sessions. Most local colleges offer them free or very low cost. These trainings sessions could do for you, what they did for me.