INTERVIEWING IS A PARTNERSHIP


A common tendency among job seekers is to look at the person conducting the interview as a guardian — a sort of stern and challenging doorman, standing arms crossed, looking to keep them from their ideal job. This view forces a confrontational approach toward the interview process. And most people are not very comfortable with confrontation.

When we think about facing someone whom we consider an adversary, our adrenaline level typically rises…our blood pressure elevates…and our palms begin to sweat. Merely anticipating a confrontation will trigger a primitive fight or flight response. And unless you're a contending middleweight, this is not a productive way to prepare for a successful outcome.

The challenge is to reframe your perception. Instead of confrontation, consider cooperation. You and the interviewer are there to help each other. You can help the hiring manager meet hiring goals by demonstrating how you are right for the job. And the hiring manager can help you verify that this truly is your ideal job. To reduce stress, focus on collaboration and partnership. How can you help the interviewer see the real you? There really is no reason to be nervous. Don't you and the interviewer both want the same result?

CONFIDENCE IN YOUR CAPABILITIES
Another way to reduce the stress of an impending interview is to focus on competence. Confidence flows from competence. For a job seeker this means two things: being able to speak with clarity and detail about personal and professional qualifications, and also being conversant about the hiring organization and the work they do. While a resume and/or job application should offer a comprehensive description of your academic and work history, hiring managers are looking for more.

Generally, a resume is only a piece of your larger story. The interview lets you fill in the blanks. It creates an opportunity to help the prospective employer understand why you, among all the applicants, are best suited to help achieve the organization’s objectives. And no one is more qualified to talk about your many assets than you are. So relax. Be confident. You know what you're talking about.

EXAMPLES SPEAK VOLUMES
Most hiring managers believe that the best predictor of future success is past behavior. So as you share your personal and professional background with the interviewer, be sure to include specific examples of situations in which you actually demonstrated the skills you listed on your resume. If, for example, you said you're a real team player, cite a time or two when you did something that was clearly team-oriented. Is customer service a specialty of yours? Describe for the interviewer an instance when you actually exceeded a customer's expectations. It's not hard to do if you're prepared, and it's the kind of information that a hiring manager needs in order to make a decision in your favor.

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT THEM?
The job interview is designed to allow you to showcase your personal and professional resources in a way that matches the qualifications for the open position. The hiring manager's first objective is to learn about you. However, there's something else. Most interviewers at some stage of the interview are likely to ask, "What do you know about our organization?" Up until this point, you've been primarily focusing on a special interest of yours…you. Now all of a sudden you need to switch gears. Don't panic. It's all part of the process, and you don't need to be an expert.

Your ability to display conversational knowledge and understanding about the organization with which you're interviewing shows the interviewer you're highly motivated and success-oriented — the kind of person they're sure to be looking for. But you're not expected to know everything. A few basic pieces of information (available from the Internet, trade journals, and even from people who already work there) to discuss during an initial interview are all that's needed. You need to know: What does the company do? With whom does it compete? What is the marketplace like for its goods or services? And most importantly, on a personal level…why do you want to work for this organization? If you can be comfortable speaking casually about the first three areas, and enthusiastically about the last one, you're certain to make a favorable impression.

PREPARE, FOCUS, AND RELAX!
There's no escaping the fact that interviews can be a little stressful. It's natural. But there's no reason to let an upcoming interview get you rattled. A little preparation and a shift in perspective can give you the confidence you need to relax, focus, and team with the interviewer to get the job you want.