Interview Tip (Yeah, just one)

It was a busy day in the office when I received the mail from Company X. My application was being considered and I had an interview with someone from HR. I was ecstatic and excited to discover such wonderful news… Until the realization of my fear of that 3-syllable word of doom – “INTERVIEW”.

I had never been for a formal interview especially one involving applying for a job. With my academics not being that strong either, my first instinct was to flee… To decline the interview and tell myself that I “didn’t really want that job anyway”. Obviously the sensible part in me took over and I scheduled the interview 2 weeks later. These 2 weeks I decided would be long enough for preparation.

2 weeks down the road and I was in the lobby of Company X. I had done no practicing in front of the mirror, no memorization of great speeches nor any reading on interview skills or body language. The only thing I’d done was read about the company and it’s goals to show my interest.

Following the interviewer to the interview room led me to think of the numerous possible ways at which I could make an idiot of myself during this session

I answered nervously as she asked me questions on past situations where I had demonstrated my abilities and the decisions I made. All of the questions she asked, I had predicted – each of which I had already prepared rough answers for… Ofcourse things did not continue to go so well when she finally asked me one that I had no idea how to answer.

This was when I had a decision to make

  1. Lie: It’s not hard to make up a story about a time in University. I am good at (but not proud of) lying too.
  2. Be honest: Explain my inability to answer

When someone is nervous they tend to just blurt out a blatant lie or pure honesty. So, eventually the stress got to me…

“Honestly, I am unable to answer the question as I feel I lack the experience in what you have just asked about. However, I do know of a similar experience that may be appropriately considered…”

And then I told of a true story that was most aligned to her question. +points for honesty and +points for having another story that I could sell myself with.

It was from this point onwards that my confidence rose as I realised it wasn’t about being able to use big words or throwing in great stories that of me being the hero of the day. It was about explaining who I was and why I was suitable for the job – Yes, I’ve been told this before, but I never believed it… Companies suggest you to ‘be yourself’ in every interview because they ‘want to get to know you’ while the rebel in each of us will always be thinking  ”yeah right, they’ll never want me if I be myself”. Have we ever stopped to think that different companies genuinely look for different types of people?

So to sum it up, there is only one interview tip that I have:

Be honest and be yourself

Yeah, yeah, you’ve heard it all before. But take this as something coming from someone who experienced the true relief and boost of self confidence by telling the truth.

If you are honest, confidence will grow because you have nothing to be afraid of. If you are forced to say something negative about yourself then just be tactful in the way you say it. If being yourself results in your rejection then it just really might be that you weren’t suitable for the company. Some companies prefer those that have leadership skills while some prefer those that efficiently work alone; some companies prefer those that can solve problems quickly while others prefer those that can pull a problem apart and take their time to carefully decide on the solution.

Obviously with this tip I am assuming you are competent enough to dress formally, not to ramble when you answer questions and to have a great handshake – All “skills” that can be mastered in a day.

Good luck!

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