When I worked in TV, I had a run of shockingly bad media job interviews. There was the one with the scary BBC lady, whose ultra-assertive hair intimidated me into silence. When she asked a fairly strightforward question about what stories I’d noticed in that day’s papers, al I could do was open and close my mouth like the Face of Boe on an off day.
But the most grimly embarassing interview when I professed a passion for a programme broadcast by the TV station who were hiring. Only trouble was, I hadn’t watched that particular programme for about 5 years and had just put it down to look good on the application form. I then found myself in the interview praising a presenter who hadn’t hosted the show for about 3 years. In fact I believe he may have died. The interviewing panel picked their jaws up off the floor and asked me what kind of TV I didn’t like. I casually slagged off the current host of the aforementioned show. And to complete the hat trick, as I was leaving I walked into a stationery cupboard. A job offer was not forthcoming.
Thankfully all of that is a long time ago and these days I prefer to help coaching clients become stonking good interviewees instead. Just think of it as me making a right old pig’s ear of interviews so you don’t have to.
Here’s a great exercise to boost your confidence in interviews. It’s similar to the exercise for dealing with fear of pitching. You can deal with just about any fear if you follow it to its logical conclusion. Make it real rather than vague and you can form a plan to deal with it rather than be its victim.
1. Ask yourself – What do I least want to be asked about in this interview? What am I afraid that the interviewer might say? Then write down your 5 nightmare questions (or more if you can think of them. But not less than 5 – it’s the magic number*).
2. Next prepare answers to these questions. Write them down. It will help enormously if you can practise this out loud and get someone else to ask the questions. Get your coach, friend or local hoodlum to role play the tough interviewer and actually ask you the questions you most dread. This forces you to come up with answers in a safer and more confident space than a real interview.
What this does is convince your subconscious that you can handle whatever questions are chucked at you. Chances are you won’t be asked the questions you most fear. But if you do, you’ve got a plan and an answer prepared.
* Ok so it’s not really magic. That would be 23, but nobody’s got 23 most feared questions. If you do, it’s probably best to become self-employed.