Staying cool during a tough interview.
In sports, there have always been special athletes who can rise to the occasion and give their best performances when the stakes are at their highest. Retired NBA greats Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson come to mind as they led their teams to eleven championships collectively.
But, former San Francisco 49er great Joe Montana arguably may have been the coolest customer of them all. Montana led the 49ers to four Super Bowl Championships and is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback ever. Montana was always at his best when the biggest games were on the line. Once asked why he always appeared so calm when the pressure mounted, Montana responded by saying that he always filled his mind with humorous thoughts to keep calm, cool, and collected.
For many of us, the process of interviewing for a great job opportunity can be a daunting and traumatic experience. My colleagues and I have touched upon some basic interview techniques in earlier blogs, but let’s focus on some of the things that you can do to control the nerves like Joe Cool.
Tips for preparing for the big game:
First, find out who you will be meeting with for your interview. The mood of the interview will be determined by what personalities are involved. Will the interview be conducted by the HR Manager, Department Manager, or President of the company? What if it is a panel interview? Knowing who you interview with is essential. Always remember to speak from the diaphragm, provide plenty of eye contact, and keep your responses down to around 5-7 sentences per question.
Make sure that you get plenty of rest the night before your big interview. You want to establish the impression that you are extremely vibrant and energetic. If you have an afternoon or evening interview scheduled, a light workout might also be a great way to alleviate some stress. Also, do whatever it takes to make your day as light as possible. Have someone else pick up the kids that afternoon in order to give you one less thing to worry about that day. Think of some of the small things that help you relax and incorporate them into your interview regiment. Reading is a great option for some as well as listening to music.
Get to the interview destination no less than 30 minutes to an hour early to make sure that you know exactly where you are expected to be. Don’t report to the office area until about ten minutes before your appointment. You don’t want to appear to be over anxious. Use the extra time to take notes and make final preparations in the car or at a coffee shop down the street. There is absolutely no excuse to be late for an interview! If you are not certain of the exact location, take the time to drive out to the site the day before and make sure to allow time for traffic delays.
Extensive time and effort is involved with preparing for interviews, and many find it frustrating when they are not allowed to showcase that knowledge. Don’t attempt to script your responses. The added burden of trying to memorize information verbatim while fighting back jumpy nerves can be a recipe for disaster. Be prepared to speak from the heart, and keep in mind that employers already know that you have the skills and experience to do the job because of your resume. They now want to learn if your personality will be a good fit for their office environment.
If you lose your trend of thought, don’t panic. Take a deep breath, recompose and restate your reply from the beginning. Employers will understand that you might be a little nervous. The important factor will be how well you recover.
Joe Montana once spotted the late comedian John Candy in the crowd while executing one of the most legendary winning drives in Super Bowl history. That quick spotting reminded Joe of lighter moments allowing him to regain the poise that it took to succeed when the pressure rose.
Good luck with your job search and remember to always keep your head in the game.