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September 23, 2013
Best of TZM: How to Achieve a Guilt-Free, Stress-Free Interview
You have worn a furrow deep into the carpet as a result of pacing back and forth in your office pondering how to prep for the upcoming job interview. You struggle mightily understanding the company’s balance sheet and profit and loss statement. Your brain is filled with facts and figures on the company’s business strategy as you try to memorize the biographies of the company’s C suite. Suddenly you break into a cold sweat as you near the time for your first round of interviews. What do you say about yourself? How will you stand out from other candidates? Will they like you? If you have endured something similar to this scenario, you likely are not alone.

Interviews can be difficult, but they really are an opportunity to shine and demonstrate your value to a potential employer. Contrary to what you’ve read, interviews are not designed to weed out the wheat from the chaff. The thinning phase really takes place well before interviews are even considered. If you are human, you may have a tendency to forget this fact and end up blowing the interview. However, there is always next time. So to help guide you through an interview, here are some thoughtlines to achieve guilt- and stress-free interviewing.
  • Focus, focus, focus! Interviews are used to ascertain your value by the potential employer. The organization wants to be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that you have the skills, will, and chemistry required to get the job done, well and with a high degree of repeatability. Keep in mind that this is the chief driver and raison d'etre for the interview. There is no other purpose. So keep your answers crisp and to the point. Give enough information to convey your value, but not so much that you put the interviewer to sleep or allow them the means to make their decision prematurely.
  • Just the facts, Madam! The interview is not a confessional. Answer questions simply, convincingly and briefly. It is not an opportunity for therapy. It is also not a place to whine about your prior employment or how bad is your prior organization or its budget cycle or review process. If you want to complain, talk with your better half or your preacher. The hiring manager does not have time to listen to you whine and frankly does not care and has no interest. He or she just wants to understand who you are, what you bring to the party, how good a match are you, and whether you can do the job.
  • Be. Yes, be you. Be who you are. Be authentic. You are not competing for an Academy Award. There are no points for acting. Yes, be enthused, be energetic, and be excited, but most of all be yourself. Be honest. Be relaxed. Be calm. Trying to be someone you are not will be quite obvious and you will likely receive a polite “thank you, but no thank you.” 
  • No regrets, no guilt. It is just an interview, not a tribunal. No one is going to execute you or excommunicate you. If you follow the first three points above, you have done your duty, given it your all, and said your piece. Be done with it. Learn from what you said, did not say, and what the interviewer had to impart about the job, your role, and where you might fit. If the job was meant to be yours, it will surely happen. Otherwise, move on to the next potential opportunity taking with you what lessons you culled from the experience. If it was a good interview you will likely feel it in your gut and you will be offered the job or asked back for another “look see.” Know that you did well and gave it your best shot. No guilt, no kidding!

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Gerry Corbett is the PRJobCoach at prjobcoach.com and CEO of Redphlag LLC, a strategy consultancy. He has served four decades in senior communications roles at Fortune 100 firms and earlier in his career in aerospace and computer engineering with NASA. He has a B.A. in public relations from San Jose State University and is a member of the International Advertising Association, National Investor Relations Institute; Arthur Page Society, National Association of Science Writers, and International Coaching Federation.

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