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Career-Life Times, Issue #48--What Worries You Most?
May 28, 2008
As of this date, 1,137 people have answered an opinion poll I recently added to my web site asking, "What worries you most about job interviews?"
Nearly 73% have answered "Not answering questions well enough."
In second place, at just over 42%, is "Being too nervous."
Other responses: "My body language," 15%; "They won’t like me," 14%; "What to wear," 12.5%; and "Other," 5.2%. (The total is more than 100% because people can select more than one answer.)
I thank all of you who have already participated. I appreciate your feedback. It helps to guide me in the type of content I provide for you on my web site and in this monthly newsletter. For example, in this issue my first article addresses being nervous.
By the way, you don't have to wait for a survey or opinion poll to give me your feedback, comments, ideas or suggestions. Please feel free to contact me any time: e-mail Bonnie.
You've studied the role. You've rehearsed your lines. You're in costume, about to make your entrance. You know a tough critic is in the audience. You also know that your performance will affect your future, one way or another.
Everyone who has been in this situation has suffered from stage fright. Everyone. Even a great actor like Sir Lawrence Olivier. Even a great singer like Barbara Streisand.
Going to a job interview can be just as stressful as walking onto a stage in front of hundreds of people. You don't have to be an actor or singer to suffer from stage fright (which is just another name for anxiety).
We all know the symptoms. Your heart pounds. You mouth goes dry. Your palms get cold and clammy. What other people describe as "butterflies" in their stomach feels more like a herd of buffalo in yours.
How can you possibly go on like this? Here’s how...
Before the Interview
1. Prepare and practice. Performers rehearse. Students study. Athletes train. When you know the material thoroughly, you will be more confident and less stressed. Study the job description, research the company, anticipate questions, develop and practice your answers. Remember the 5 Ps: "Preparation & practice precede peak performance."
2. Focus on your value. Feel good about yourself. If you weren't among the best of the applicants, you would not be going to an interview. Tell yourself the company needs you as much as you need them. If they don't hire you, it's their loss—and you'll find a better job. Be confident (but not arrogant).
3. Realize that nothing is wrong with you. Being nervous is normal. The interviewer will understand. He or she may be nervous, too.
4. Train your brain. Your brain is responsible for your physiological reactions—the pounding heart, sweaty palms, etc. But it also responds to your actions. If you ACT calm and happy, your brain will get the message that you ARE calm and happy—and will stop producing the symptoms of anxiety. Repeat to yourself that you are calm and happy. Slow your breathing. Think of something that makes you smile, such as a silly puppy. Make sure you actually smile.
5. Recharge your brain and body. Be sure to get plenty of sleep the night before your interview. Eat a healthy breakfast if your interview is in the morning; a healthy lunch if it's in the afternoon. If you go to the interview tired and hungry, your brain won't function at peak performance. You need an alert, nourished brain to maximize all of the steps in this article.
During the Interview
If you follow the previous five steps, you'll be well prepared for the interview. When you're well prepared, you'll be less nervous. But there's nothing wrong with still being a little jittery when the time comes to "give your performance."
6. Realize it's a temporary condition. Even if your heart is pounding as you walk in (don't worry, no one but you can hear it), you'll start to relax within five minutes or so after you start talking. This is the reason many interviewer's begin the interview with questions designed more to put you at ease than determine your fitness for the job. Think of the "Tell me a little about yourself" request as a natural question someone would ask you at a party. They just want to get to know you. Talking about yourself (a topic you're very familiar with), will help you to relax.
7. Be yourself. Think of the interviewer as an acquaintance, someone you're happy to have a conversation with—relax and be yourself. Be professional, but also friendly and personable. Smile.
8. Be helpful. Focus on this: during a job interview, you're not being judged by a superior; you're trying to be helpful to someone with a problem. We all enjoy helping others. When you're doing something you enjoy, you won't be as nervous.
Nervousness is a state of mind. You may not be able to avoid it completely, but you can control it. Following these steps will help to ease your stage fright, make you less nervous during your job interview, improve your performance, and increase your chances of winning the job!
How would you answer this job interview question: "If you and your brother both worked here, would you tell your brother's boss that he is stealing from this company?"
Yes, it's a trick question.
If you answer "Yes," thinking they want to hear how loyal you would be to the company, you'd be wrong.
This question is to test your honesty, not your loyalty.
If you said yes, you would turn in your brother, that would be a lie... and they know this. No one would really snitch on their own brother just to look good to an employer. (At least that's their logic; of course, they haven't met your brother.)
So if you're asked this job interview question, answer it honestly: "No."
Be prepared to answer the follow-up question, "Why not?" Explain that you would be a loyal and honest employee, but family comes first. Instead of reporting your brother’s behavior, you'd do your best to make sure it never happens again.
An employer will believe that type of answer, and respect you for giving it.
On the off chance the person asking the question is an idiot who wants to hear you say you'd turn in your own brother, you wouldn't want to work there anyway, right?
Don't worry so much about trick questions. It's easiest (and best) to answer them honestly, rather than trying to figure out the "right" answer (which may be wrong).
Networking to find a job is like yard work or exercise: If you really want to avoid it, any excuse will do.
Some of the most frequent excuses I hear from job seekers about why they're not networking effectively are "I'm too shy," "I'm too busy," and "I really don't need any help." (Show of hands anyone?)
But if you're mired in a prolonged job search, maybe it's time to rethink your networking strategy and confront those excuses head on.
If so, here are three common networking excuses -- and solutions that can help you today ...
Excuse #1: "I'm too shy to network."
Solution: Take heart -- so are most other people!
"It's a myth that you have to be an extrovert to network. It's not about personality at all. Networking is simply a skill," says Donna Fisher, author of "Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success."
One answer is to focus your attention on others and how you can help them, because doing so automatically makes you less self-conscious. "Once you realize that others feel awkward, too, you're going to feel more natural, network better and gather valuable information," says Fisher, who confesses to being somewhat shy herself.
Yet, even an introvert can start a good conversation. All you have to do is let the other person talk about themselves. Fisher suggests these openings the next time you find yourself at a networking function:
* "How did you get involved with the ____ Club?"
Excuse #2: "I'm too busy to network."
Solution: Rethink what "busy" really means.
I submit that you can find time to do anything, if you find the right motivation first.
If I put a gun to your head and said, "Network tonight, or else," you would skip dinner, head to the local Rotary Club and be networking like a senator.
You can find the motivation -- and time -- to network when you realize that your life is at stake here. Literally. Because time is life. And if you have no job, or dislike your current work from 9-5 every day, those unhappy hours of your life are gone forever.
I think most folks lose their motivation to network because they feel pressured to find the perfect job lead today or meet 50 people tonight. But you don't need to move mountains every day to network effectively.
According to the book, "1,001 Ways to Market Your Services," by Rick Crandall, a Stanford study found that "small increases in the size of your network can double your odds of success. If your existing networking is not producing much in the way of referrals, try to add 10% in high-quality contacts. They can double your results."
So, if you know 250 people by name, a 10% increase in your network would mean 25 new contacts. Regardless of your number, the key is to take small steps. Meeting just one new person a day will put 30 new names in your network this month, and will likely double your number of active job leads. Are you too busy for that?
Excuse #3: "I really don't need to network."
Solution: Why struggle when others succeed so easily?
According to Donna Fisher, the "Lone Ranger Mentality" can hamper your networking and your job search. Call it an occupational hazard of growing up in America. "It can be automatic to think, 'I'll figure this out on my own,' instead of 'Who do I know who's already done this and can help me get it done faster?'" says Fisher.
You may think you can go it alone, but why? You can gain access to years of knowledge and shave weeks off your job search simply by asking the people you know for help.
But keep this in mind: Everyone keeps score. If you borrow a cup of sugar from your neighbor, they will remember. If you call your brother at 3 am to ask for jumper cables, he will remember.
And if you ask networking contacts for job leads, they will remember. So be sure to pay them back by giving freely of your time, knowledge and talents in return.
Why not put some "karmic cash" in your networking account and start giving to the people in your network today?
Kevin Donlin has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. Author of 3 books, Kevin has been interviewed by The New York Times, Fox News, CBS Radio and others. Check out his latest helpful resource, The Simple Job Search System.
More Articles. You can find more articles on my website by clicking on Article Index.
Here are three new articles you might enjoy:
GetThatGig.com. This site is all about great summer jobs and internships for high school and college-age job-seekers (16-21). It provides tips on different (and often unusual) careers, lists current jobs available, and allows you to post your resume. Check it out here: GetThatGig.com.
Wisdom of Dick Bolles. Dick Bolles is the best-selling author of "What Color is Your Parachute?" He's also written many excellent articles, which you can read on his web site. They're a bit old, but the advice he offers is timeless. And f*r*e*e. Here's where to find them: Dick Bolles articles.
Early to Rise. This site says, "Give us just 5 minutes every morning and before too long the result will be a healthier, wealthier, wiser, and happier you – we guarantee it!" I highly recommend that you check it out, and sign up for their f*r*e*e newsletter. You'll have to put up with quite a few sales pitches, but the articles, tips, advice and insights are well worth it. Really. Go here: EarlyToRise.com.
Railroad Job Guide. I read an article recently that said the American railroad industry is still doing well while many industries are suffering now due to the lousy economy and rising fuel prices. High fuel prices are actually helping to increase business for railroads as the cost of shipping goods by truck becomes too expensive for many manufacturers. This is definitely an industry job seekers should be looking at right now, because while their business is booming, they are losing many baby boomers to retirement. It’s sort of a "perfect storm" for railroad job opportunities. If it sounds interesting to you, I recommend you check out this helpful guide that will give you some great insider secrets on how to get hired: Railroad Job Guide
Job Interview Success System. This is my guaranteed step-by-step system for helping you ace a job interview. See the details here: Job Interview Success System.
in spite of all obstacles, discouragements, and impossibilities:
It is this, that in all things
distinguishes the strong soul from the weak."
The New Supermarket
A new supermarket opened near my house.
It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the sound of distant thunder and the smell of fresh rain.
When you pass the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and you experience the scent of fresh mown hay.
In the meat department, there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks with onions.
When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle, and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.
The bread department features the tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread & cookies.
I don't buy toilet paper there anymore.
Dirty Jobs. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but every now and then I catch an episode of "Dirty Jobs" on The Discovery Channel. I love Mike Rowe's humor, his authentic curiosity, and his willingness to do some of the most disgusting jobs you can imagine. He's planning to write about these exploits, and one of the themes he'll cover is job satisfaction. If you've ever watched the show, you've probably noticed that the people who do the dirtiest jobs are mysteriously happy with their career choice. They truly love what they do. Isn't that refreshing? And Mike Rowe obviously loves what he does. You can get a taste of his twisted mind by reading his article: "Seven Dirty Habits of Highly Effluent People.")
So, what did you think of this issue? Any suggestions? Topic ideas? Questions? I really appreciate your feedback. Please send me a note at Bonnie@Best-Interview-Strategies.com
Please forward this to your friends!
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P.S.S. I apologize for the glitches (especially in links) you may see if you receive this as straight text. If you can receive your email in HTML format, choose that and it'll look better. (There may still be some odd formatting quirks, though.)
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