Interviewing is fun for nobody. The only people that like it are those that enjoy studying the psychology of them, or just naturally enjoy those types of situations. Nothing wrong with that, different strokes for different folks. In the majority, we aren’t like that, and I for sure am one of them.
Interviewing has had different phases throughout my career. I’ve gone from shy and unsure, to overconfidently talking about what I want, back to slightly shy, and ending up somewhere between the two. Obviously depending on my caffeine levels 😁
Over the years I’ve developed some things that help me maintain my zen while interviewing, and think they can help you as well.
Pause First, Then Act
If you’re anything like me I tend to have a wandering mind. To help channel my thoughts better, and keep my wandering tendencies distracted, I listen to music or podcast while I’m working. Unfortunately, doing that while interviewing isn’t practical. To the person on the other end, without that distraction, it can come off as if the questioning is causing you to struggle or you’re not that competent off paper.
What helped me was learning how to pause. Taking a pause is a strong tactic because it gives you time to rest, reset, process, then begin the thinking. Pausing is so powerful because it gives you a moment to put things at ease, and attempt to isolate your mind from external things. A side benefit is it also can give the impression that you’re thoughtful in your approach to things.
Write Things Down
This is definitely depending on the interviewing stage you’re at, and the type you’re doing, but it’s worth doing. Personally, I’ve never been quite the best at sole verbal communication. Mostly because I will 100% start daydreaming while we’re talking and you’ll have no idea drifted off. So, in part, I mostly won’t remember what you said once I snap out of it. On the other hand, I am great at keeping up with things when I see them written out.
For interviewing, your best shot is always doing what gives you the best chance at articulating your responses as correctly as possible. So if you’re like me, don’t be afraid to ask your interviewer if it’s ok to jot down notes to help you comprehend things. This may be more engineering-focused, but this can be great for other types of interviews that test how you think as well.
Ask To Clarify On Specifics
This is something that is talked about a lot, and rightfully, probably always will be. For whatever reason we are all conditioned to perceive asking clarifying questions is a bad thing. Mind you, there is an extent where you become unnecessary. However, within reason, they can only benefit you. So when in doubt, ask to clarify in association to something specific. If you need to keep it broad, that’s fine too, but the specification in the clarification will further your understanding.
Find A Personal Connection
Talking to a strange person that “technically” has some weight in deciding the next career choice you make is a bit off-putting. Thinking about it truly, there is an automatic weird position you’re in. Depending on your life situation, just stepping foot into an interview puts that into reality. It is also only natural that this situation would show that in your interactions, and responding to questions.
To combat that, you need to work on finding a personal connection with your interviewer. This can put you at ease a bit because it becomes less of a pressure-filled game of 21 questions and into a friendly conversation.
Interviewing is never fun, let’s be honest. It takes a lot of time and energy, and most of the time, it’s pretty funny that most hate it and knowingly will do it again every few years. It’s an awkward dance we hate but know it must be done. That is ok though, as it does get better over time. As long as you maintain your calm, and still your thoughts.