“What do you like reading?“, asked the interviewer.
“John Maxwell“, I replied (..well, I possibly have read more John Maxwell’s books than he’s written!).
The follow-up question came, “What do you like about John Maxwell?“
I started babbling.
It was like losing in the home ground. Being beaten at something you always thought you were so good at.
Not that I didn’t know the answer, just that I didn’t know where to start.
I had a zillion thoughts run past my head instantaneously such as “Does he think that I am lying?“
Truth be told, I have suffered big time from job interview anxiety.
It was serious. So much that I would think that I am a gone case. The only one or the chosen one!
It’s a bit like when you’re sick and don’t know the diagnosis. You often think that it’s just you.. until you know more. Reality is that whatever you’re going through has likely been experienced already by someone somewhere.
However, I used to be so scared of the subject, that I would avoid talking about it. I would brush it aside if it ever came up. I was almost certain that there’s something wrong with me only. I kept it a secret because I feared being made fun of.
When I did, after all, opened up to talking about it, I realized that there is a world out there full of people who fear the interview: the interview phobics.
I know the feeling. You get blacked out, freeze or get defensive and eventually get caught in the trap of your own words. You feel cornered. You feel ashamed. You think that you have lost the golden chance. Guess what, the moment you have such feelings, is when it’s over.
If you can relate to this, read further..
Let’s take a step back: What is an interview anyway?
It’s the phenomenon of finding the right person for the job, and the right job for the person – It’s a two way street. a bit like finding a match in an arranged marriage.
When you are out looking for a match, would you look for someone perfect – most beautiful, with top education and a fantastic family background?
(If you are, then, at present the only person who’d fit the bill is Manushi Chillar. She’s Miss World 2017, studying MBBS and seems to have a decent family. But then, she’s too good to be true, for you, isn’t she?)
Or instead would you look for someone who is right for you? Someone who may not be (in fact should not be) perfect, but would adjust well to your life and circumstances. Remember, you aren’t perfect either.
Interviews are no different. They are seeking the right fit not the perfect one. So, you don’t have to be perfect. No one is! Just be yourself. Relax. Let go that feeling of being overwhelmed.
Besides, you are also evaluating them. It’s not a one way street. Not all the employers are right for you. Speak your mind, make mistakes but always give them the sense that you’re an equal. No marriage can ever happen with consent from one side. So, don’t act subservient*.
Tell your story, hear theirs, and yes, it’s okay to be nervous. I have been on the other side and trust me, both sides are!
So, next time:
- If you notice them scrutinizing your appearance, mannerisms, do the same to them! Remember you’re here to decide too.
- If you think you are not well prepared, check their readiness. Chances are they aren’t prepared either. Ask questions such as “Could you tell me more about your company culture?” or “Please explain the job requirement to me in detail“, or “Please explain to me the growth path for my role” or “What are the organization’s plans for 2018” or “How does the organization deal with personality eccentricities?” Yes, you have all the right to ask. Actually, you need to know some or all of this before you consent to marry.
- Be authentic while being positive. Expect the same in return. If they are rude or cold, you are not be in right hands.
- Pay attention and don’t be desperate. Remember it’s the marriage of equals. Desperation will only reduce the chances of developing a bond. Hopefully, you’ve been through college – Hard-to-get girls/ guys always had multiple proposals and could pick and choose. While the desperate ones (lots of names popping up my head), got only one thing – rejection.
Wait a second… is that the Shehnai that I hear playing from a distance.
*Subservient is a word that has stayed with me over the years. I first heard it around 10 years back in the context of onsite-offshore teams. The speaker strongly advised offshore teams to not to act subservient. It’s meaning as per Webster is: useful in an inferior capacity, subordinate, serving to promote some end, overly submissive