Don’t Fear The Interview By Rhonda Partain

The mere thought of an interview can put fear in the heart of a normally confident person. There is something about not knowing that is unsettling. When we were in school we knew what we needed to know for the test. Interviews are different. We don’t know. We had no study sheet with which to prepare. Many interviews ask behavioral type questions. How do you respond to questions like what is your greatest weakness? It is totally untrue to act as though you have none. But how do you remain truthful without disqualifying yourself from the job? This is where creativity comes in. You admit your weakness but finish by adding a positive. For example, you might say your greatest weakness is that you tend to procrastinate doing things you find unpleasant. So, since you have realized you have this tendency you have created a daily list. You do the things you would normally put off first. Having a weakness is not seen so negatively now. You saw you had this problem and took steps to correct it.

Now comes the opposite question. What is your greatest strength? Somehow this question feels a bit like blowing your own horn. I feel a bit uncomfortable trying to explain my greatest strength. Maybe the word great throws me off. Do I see anything I do as great? Perhaps not, but still I have qualities which I feel are of value. I am a good listener; I empathize with others. I truly care and want to make a difference in a positive way in another’s life. In a day of automatic customer service, I want to stand out for genuine care and compassion. Another good quality I possess is creativity. When you can’t see what’s around you it is often necessary to come up with alternatives to get a task done. This may mean using what’s at hand. Each of us has good qualities or strengths. It just may take a moment or two before we can pen them down and explain them to someone else.

So, why do we fear an interview? I suppose it’s because we fear rejection. What we say or don’t say makes an impression. Someone or perhaps a group of people are analyzing what we say, our body language, our delivery. They are listening and watching and coming to conclusions. They may think we would be a good fit for the position for which we have applied; they may think we lack the experience or education needed to do the job effectively. So in essence, we fear rejection. We dread getting one of those “Dear John Emails”. You know the type. We appreciate that you took the time to apply for our open position; unfortunately, we have decided to move on with another candidate. We wish you luck with your job search. They might as well say: yes, it was you.

We must remember we have value whether or not we are offered the job. There is a place where we will fit. It’s hard to remember this however when reading this email of dismissal. We wonder what we said wrong; didn’t we smile enough? Did we talk too much or too little. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to figure out what they didn’t see in us. If you did the best you could to convey your strengths, your weaknesses and answered the situational questions as honestly as possible then you did all you could. If the answer is good luck with your job search then you know you must continue to look. Somewhere there is a place you belong. After all, tomorrow is another day.

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