If you’re stressing over how to give a perfect job interview, here’s some good news: there’s no such thing. Too many things go into an interview, including interview chemistry. So your real job is simply to give the best interview YOU can give. That’s all anyone can do.
You can let go of any pressure to be perfect. The interview process is about finding the right match. But since there is no perfect job or perfect interviewer, a “perfect” interview would be wasted. Whatever perfect is anyway. Mostly it’s about the overall impression you leave.
But there are things you can do to help your chances. Ways to reduce nerves and increase how “present” you are — meaning you can be yourself while having a conversation. Of course, you still want to make sure you aim the interview in a way that shows how well you match.
Some “best interview” tips to help
1. Before you go into the room: stop, take a few deep breaths, and try your best to relax. Everyone gets nervous. Interviewers expect some nervousness But if you prepare well, nerves can actually help give you good energy. That’s a secret many actors know!
2. As some of the experts suggest, if you’re nervous about being interviewed, it really does help to practice a LOT with a friend or in a mirror ahead of time. I remember one time when I was asked to work with a woman who was incredibly nervous despite her excellent skills.
After about 3 separate sessions where I gave her some tough interviews and helped her know where she could be a little stronger (including that first impression), she got the job! I was thrilled for her.
3. Good stories help. So think of a few things that you’ve done in other jobs where you succeeded or helped improve how things are done. If you prepare these ahead of time, you’ll have them ready to use at the right moment during the interview.
4. Think of your best qualities and worst ones in case you are asked to talk about them. Never really give a “worst” one of course. You can always try “I’m sometimes a little shy about giving my opinion, but I’m getting better at it.” Or “I was having trouble with ______, but I (took a class / asked for help / studied on my own time, etc.), and now I’m comfortable with it.”
Well … you get the general idea. And if the interviewer presses further for you to come up with something really bad … don’t! Just say “I can’t think of anything other than what I mentioned. But whatever might come up, I will do my best to find a way.” (And maybe have a story for that, too.)
5. Come prepared with some good questions that show you know something about the company. Or have really thought through the job itself and want to know more about what would be required.
Let’s keep going …
6. Be present! I once heard Jennifer Hudson say this to Ellen DeGeneres when asked how she seemed to stay so calm at the Oscars. Basically it means stay in the moment, as they say in zen philosophy.
Don’t start thinking about other stuff during the interview — like what they might ask or what you are or aren’t. Just shake off all those other thoughts. And from the moment you enter the room, face each moment as it comes.
7. Show good energy (look alert and no slouching) and have a positive attitude. Sometimes a little exercise ahead of time — even a few jumping jacks in the company bathroom — can get the energy flowing. Just check to make sure you’re alone. 🙂
8. Really let yourself believe that you deserve the job and can do it well. Most of the jobs I’ve held are jobs I had never done before. Don’t let yourself think that you don’t have what it takes even if you don’t have all the specific experience.
If you have a brain and the determination to dig in and get the job done no matter what it takes, then you deserve to be in the interview. What you feel about yourself comes across in an interview. Just remind yourself of times when you did succeed, even with a few obstacles you had to overcome.
9. If the interviewer actually says you don’t have the exact experience, your answer should somehow convey that there have been other times when you’ve been in a situation like that. And you dug in, learned what you had to, and did the job well. Maybe you even became the expert after that. Be prepared with a specific example!
10 If the interview feels like it’s going badly, make a note of the cues you are observing, and try to adjust. Is the interviewer looking bored? Don’t give up. Try to liven things up.
Maybe try to fit in some of the really good things about yourself you prepared. It may be a lost cause, but you never know when you can recover a fumble. Once again, a good story (not too long but on point) can help.
A few more best interview tips …
11. Keep your answers clear and on topic. Look your interviewer in the eye when speaking. And try to speak as if you were talking to a friend you like and respect. Just make sure you are talking about what they asked you. And don’t go on too long!
12. Leave with confidence, a warm firm handshake, and a smile.
13. Say thank you at the end. And remember to follow up with a thank you note after!
14. Chemistry is not necessarily about personality. You can be shy and still come off as a good employee who cares about producing top quality work. Good work habits and a feeling that you would not only be someone who comes through no matter what the challenge. But also someone great to work with on a daily basis. These qualities go a long way in any interview.
15. But in the end, it’s still about the right match. And if it’s not there, please remember that does not reflect on your ability for this particular job. Or any other one. It really is about chemistry. And you only need one “YES!”
A few last thoughts
You might think of each interview for a job you don’t get as practice for the right job. One where all the elements are in balance. Even when you give your best interview and it feels right in every way, the elements simply may not be there for the match.
But Please know that’s a very normal part of the job interview process. So when you’re ready, just make sure you have a solid resume, a great attitude, and your best interview skills. And whatever you do — even when it feels like it’s taking forever — don’t give up until you find the right match for you!
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