Job interviews can be scary. And it’s all too easy to choke. Here are 7 ways real people did choke, according a recent Business Insider story, and how you can keep yourself from making the same mistakes. At very least, if you feel you’ve ever messed up an interview, you know you’re not alone.
1. Always arrive prepared
Whether you weren’t given much notice for the interview, or you just got an offer from another company that you expect to take, you still have to do your homework. One person reported accidentally calling the company by the name of their biggest rival for the entire interview. Yikes. Bring your A game, no matter how low your stakes.
2. Don't make assumptions about people you meet
One guy looked totally unprofessional by assuming a hiring manager was just a secretary. Assuming anything is dangerous, but making assumptions about a person's rank is even worse. No matter how low on the totem pole you suspect your interviewer to be, remember that they will be reporting up. Treat them as you would the CEO.
3. Preparation is key to avoid blanking
One person reported having to come up with a song that described them and having no idea (then saying something totally inappropriate in the panic of the moment). Avoid moments like this by preparing. There are some questions you can’t anticipate, but you may have prepared a similar one and could pivot, say, to a book that summed you up (if you were asked for and couldn’t think of an appropriate song). Take a minute to pause and compose yourself, rather than blurting something stupid out.
4. Look in the mirror before you enter the room
Seriously. Someone reported noticing a big booger hanging from their nose when they got out to their car post-interview. This is easily prevented. Do a last minute hygiene/presentation check in the restroom before your interview. Tuck in your shirt, make sure there’s nothing in your teeth or on your face, etc.
5. Use relaxation techniques to conquer nerves
One person was so nervous, all the interviewer's questions were met with radio silence. If you’re so nervous that you can’t even answer questions, that’s a bad interview no matter what. Try meditating or power-posing in the minutes before (or even during!) the interview to keep your blood flowing and your confidence up. Smile through it, fake being at ease, and no matter what you do, keep answering the questions.
6. Show your excitement, but play it cool
You might be so pumped to be in the final interview stages, but sometimes your overeagerness can bleed into your interview in off-putting ways. One guy's excitement led to babbling, which let to some pretty bad interviews. Try to keep your cool. Save the jumping up and down and squealing and fantasizing for when you get home and have comported yourself professionally. Be passionate and interested in the interview, just don’t let yourself lose control.
7. Take the time to answer directly and honestly
One woman reported pivoting away from an honest answer she thought would work in her disfavor, and ending up saying something vague and unfocused instead. Not lying is always important, but if you can find a way to take a moment to collect your thought, then reframe your honest answer in a constructive way? You’re going to impress your interviewer doubly.
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