Career Corner, Part II: How to Avoid Getting Caught Off-Guard During a Job Interview

Career Corner, Part II: How to Avoid Getting Caught Off-Guard During a Job Interview | Positively Smitten

You might think you know yourself well, that is until you find yourself in a job interview.

Potential employers with pens in their hand, taking notes on the words coming out of your mouth, and marking up what you think is your resume, are not (yet) your friends. And yet they want to know everything about you. That alone causes you to stutter and sweat – and forget who you are and why you’re there.

In many interviews I’ve been on, I’ve caught myself thinking, “wow, good question” when they ask me about this or that. How could I not have ever thought deeply before about what motivates me? Why was this answer not on the tip of my tongue?

I’ve always made it a point to jot down some of these personal questions the moment the interview is over. Forget the fact that I was applying for a job – these were questions I should be asking myself often, to truly know who I am at this point in my life.

So if it’s true that this dance they call a job interview is mostly a chance to have a conversation with you and see what you’re all about, then there is one topic you should be able to speak to flawlessly, and it should be the topic of YOU.

You’re sure to be asked a few standard questions, so take this little test. When put on the spot, how well can you respond to these personal questions? Give yourself one minute for each question without jotting anything down. Then go back and one by one answer these questions writing down your response and whatever comes to you. You can organize it later, but take however long you need to develop a saleswoman response. Then practice speaking these responses out loud in the mirror.

Consider these questions:

  • What motivates you?
  • How do you measure success?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What are your strengths? (Then they’ll want you to pick your biggest strength. Just one.)
  • What are your weaknesses? Hint: turn this into a positive!
  • What would your manager say is your biggest strength and weakness?
  • What would someone who reports to you say is your biggest strength and weakness?

A lot of these questions might produce answers you are proud of but you’re afraid of being perceived as egotistical. Listen, you’re there to sell yourself, so don’t be afraid to be confident. This is your chance!

If you don’t get the job, don’t take it personally. We all experience rejections more often than the job offer. It’s just math. So chalk it up to experience and more practice under your belt. Eventually, you’ll be so comfortable with your presence in front of strangers, how eloquently you sell yourself and how good you feel about yourself too, that you will speak confidently of yourself and your skills in any situation. And you’ll know who you really are to boot!


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