Social Guides for the Socially Awkward: Job Interviews!
Job interviews are tough for anyone. Usually you’re going to said interview because you either A) want the job or B) NEED the job. There is definitely cause for nerves in both cases. If you’re socially anxious, you may also have nerves from A) driving to a strange place, B) meeting strange people, C) conversing with strange people. I’m nauseated just thinking about it.
A lot of my advice for this situation has already been covered in previous blogs. The main purpose of this post, is to put those relevant bits in one place.
First off, get familiar with the location. Drive up, scope out the parking. If you can, recreate the potential circumstances of the interview. Ie, leave your home at the same time you would to get to the meeting. This way you can see exactly how long it takes. (Then add 30 minutes on top, just in case).
The less you have to worry about the day of, the easier things will be for you. Is there good parking? If not, where is the best place to park? What is the layout?
Answering these kinds of questions will help you look and feel less unsure when you arrive. Also, it cuts WAY down on the things you have to worry about. Being as sure as you can of how to get there, where to park, and what time to leave so you get there early will really help soothe your nerves the day of. Also, getting there early ensures you have time for last minute teeth/hair checks.
Next, clothing. Pick out what you’re going to wear ahead of time and make sure it is clean and ironed. Err on the side of OVER dressed. Nice pants, not jeans. Nice shirt. NO WRINKLES. Jacket. If you choose to wear a dress, make sure it’s more business-like than casual or dressy. Also, err on the side of demure.
LINT BRUSH. Just put it in your glove compartment. Right now. I’ll wait. You’ll be nervous the day of and you won’t remember. Don’t have one? Put it on your grocery list. Right now. I’ll wait. Then take it right out of the grocery bag and into your glove box. Somehow between my house and wherever I’m going I succeed in getting wrinkled and covered in schmutz.
Prior to your interview, research the company you are applying to. Even if you’re applying at the Gap, or McDonald’s, know who you are applying to and what they are looking for. What does the company do? Check their website. How do they present themselves? Are they sleek and corporate? Down home and personable? What seems to be important to them. Shareholders? Customers? All this information can help you sell yourself to your interviewer.
YOU ARE WHAT THEY WANT. Know this.
Also know that they have no way of knowing that you are what they want. By researching the company you will arm yourself with information that show them that you are what they want.
On the way to the meeting, take lots and lots of deep breaths. Listen to a song that either relaxes you or pumps you up. Sit in the car and visualize success. Again, take deep breaths.
When you are ready to walk in pay attention to your posture. Try not to fidget. Give the impression of confidence. Even if on the inside you want to run and hide, on the outside walk into that room as if you own it and it will show. Shoulders back, eyes forward, slight smile on your face.
Be cognizant of what’s happening with your face. You want to look professional and serious, but you don’t want to look like a miserable person. A trick I like to do is imagine my facial muscles are tied to strings and I give them a teensy tug upwards. Practice it in the mirror. Stare in the mirror with your face at rest. Then tug all those strings just a tiny bit and see how much more open and bright your face looks. It’s a small thing that makes a big difference.
If you need a moment to calm yourself before entering, do so. I usually do that in the bathroom while I’m fussing with my hair.
When your interviewer arrives, shake their hand. Handshakes are very important. Firm, not tight. Eye contact (remember, you can cheat with the forehead), a SMILE, and a polite platitude. “It’s so nice to finally meet you.” Or something similar.
During the interview, make sure you are actively listening. Active listening is harder than you think. It’s so easy to get caught up in the inner monologue. I know you are anxious to prove yourself, but the worst thing you can do is get caught up in whatever impressive thing you are going to say next and miss what the person just asked you.
Pretend those inner voices are that annoying commercial you hate (Old Navy, how I hate you). Tune it out, and focus on the words being spoken to you. Tune them in. It takes thought and concentration to listen to others when you feel anxious and uncomfortable. Focus on it like you’re Clark Kent trying to figure out how his laser eyes work.
If you’re armed with research on the company and your own knowledge, then all you have to do is actively listen and be fully present for the conversation. Being impressive is a natural by-product
Thanks for reading, and good luck!