A job interview generally has nothing to do with your ability to do the actual job. It's a somewhat unnatural test of your ability to speak about yourself that rattles a lot of people.
In fact, 54% of job seekers said the interview phase is "moderately to extremely challenging" for two reasons: uncertainty and lack of confidence, according to a new report from LinkedIn, which is owned by Microsoft. Those numbers get worse for millennials, as 67% of that age group has negative feelings about interviewing for a new job.
That makes sense because interviewing involves talking about yourself and straddling the line between proper self-promotion and bragging. That's not particularly easy to do for most people, but there are ways to make it easier.
How do you make interviewing easier?
Interviewing does not come up very often for most people, so when it does you need to prepare. Spending time prepping for an interview clearly works, according to LinkedIn's report:
- More than half (52%) of successful job seekers in the U.S. spend most of their time creating answers to the toughest questions they expect in advance of the interview.
- Three in 5 (60%) always research everything they can about a company in advance.
Before your interview, it's important to do your homework. Learn about the company and study potential interview questions. You should also study yourself -- make sure you are ready to answer questions about your background. Don't just spit out facts. Be ready to explain how you achieved various goals in your previous positions and to detail what you might do if hired.
It's also possible to get ahead of mistakes. More than half (55%) "of working professionals admit to committing an interview fumble." These include "being incredibly nervous" (32%), "not being prepared well enough in advance" (27%), and "mispronouncing a word" (10%).
To avoid these very common mistakes and feelings, practice. Have friends interview you, and/or record yourself answering common questions. Repetition can make you more comfortable, so put in as much work as you can.
In most cases the interviewer wants to get to know you and to understand how you handle various situations. Try to think of the event as a conversation and not an interview. Give thoughtful answers and be curious about the other person.
You know the answers to most questions because they're going to be about you. For the rest, put in the work beforehand and you should be fine. Yes, some companies ask dumb questions designed to trip you up. Prepare for those as best you can, but in most cases, the interview will be about you.
An interview does not have to be scary. You already know most of the materials because you've lived them, and the rest can be studied. Relax, take a deep breath, and, if you've prepared, you will be fine.
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Teresa Kersten, an employee of LinkedIn, a Microsoft subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel B. Kline owns shares of Microsoft. The Motley Fool recommends Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.