A pending interview can turn even the most self-assured candidate into a ball of nerves, but proper preparation can change that. Today, Taunee Besson, career transitions expert and President and Principal Consultant at Dallas-based Career Dimensions walks us through how to get mentally ready for an interview, tips that can help an interviewee project confidence and competence. — Maurice Gilbert
Q: Next week I’m starting the interviewing process for my dream job. While I know I’m qualified, I’m afraid I’ll say or do something that will take me out of the running. How can I put my best foot forward when I’m feeling so stressed?
Few situations in life are more anxiety producing than interviewing for a new position. So much rides on the outcome: money, opportunity, self-esteem. Yet there are ways to calm yourself and use your excess mental energy to your advantage. Just think preparation.
Before your interview, find out as much as you can about the job and its compensation package. Then you’ll be able to speak intelligently about how your experience, skills and personality are a good match for what the employer is seeking.
Knowing what the position pays in advance can also save you tremendous angst. Usually getting the job description and compensation is easy. Just ask for it when you set the appointment. Employers don’t want to waste their time interviewing someone who is out of the pay range or unqualified for the position.
Use the Internet to get some information on the company. You need to know if the organization is one you’ll be proud to represent. And when you refer to its products, services, mission and direction during the interview, you’re bound to impress your interviewer.
Carefully consider why you are the best candidate for the job. Practice saying how your background and talents match with what the employer needs. This may seem a little silly, but you’ll find it much easier to talk about yourself when your brain has already worn a little path through the appropriate synapses.
Also be prepared to discuss your strengths and weaknesses and why you want the position. Don’t play it cool. Employers want people on board who are excited about working for them. Channel your jitters into enthusiasm for the job. You’ll find your attitude is contagious.
Make your own list of questions. Interesting questions reveal their author’s excellent grasp of the subject, while simultaneously offering the interviewer a chance to expound upon his knowledge and opinions. Good questions are often more impressive than good responses.
Remember: you aren’t the only nervous one at the interview. Your potential employer is probably worried about the process and outcome of your conversation, too. Concentrate on making her comfortable and you’ll focus much less on your own inadequacies.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.