Tell me about yourself. What are your pros and cons? You have an impressive resume. Tell me something that’s not on it. Give me an insight into you. Why do you want to work here? What do you hope to gain? And on and on it goes.
We’ve all been there. When you’re looking for a job, you have to go through the interview process. You have to talk about yourself, boast your best qualities, and raise your pedestal high. You gotta answer that question of “I’m great for this position because…” and if you’re like me, you bite your tongue and your mind goes blank. I’m currently seeking a new job and I’ve undergone a couple interviews already. It’s safe to say I’m reaching my limit. I’ve had interviews that were super stressful. There’s a lot of pressure and judgement. I’ve also had interviews that have floored me with how laid back and causal they are. Yet, no matter which type I endure, I still struggle, because I am not good at talking myself up.
Interviewing is a skill and an essential one if you want that dream job. Like all skills, some are better at it than others. In regards to everyone I’ve spoken to about interviews, the truth is: everybody gets nervous.
Take a friend of mine. She recently interviewed for a position she really wanted. I knew she was going to get it. She has the skills. She has the smarts. The passion. There was no doubt in my mind that she was going to get picked. In her mind, though, she was jittery and nervous. She saw all the outcomes: if she did get picked and if she didn’t get picked. She wanted this job, because she knew she could grow in a field she really enjoys. If she didn’t get the job, she’d be stuck spinning her wheels and looking for something else that offered the same kind of growth. The morning of the interview arrived and she dressed to impress and show her seriousness toward this position. I don’t know what all was said in her interview, but she ended up getting a tour of the facility and the assurance of explanations saved for later. That, to me, confirmed they were going to offer her the job, but she didn’t want to get her hopes up and I completely understand that.
Disappointment is a heavy feeling. If words could die, that would be one of the first ones I’d off. Nobody wants to fly their hopes too high in fear of getting struck by the lightning of disappointment. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. I’ve thought for sure I’d get a job and then I wouldn’t hear back or the rejection comes two months later. It can mess with your self-worth when you often get:
“Thank you for your interest. Unfortunately, we’re going with someone else.”
“Thank you for applying, but we’re going another route.”
“We realized we’ve offered you this position; however, in light of COVID, we’ve had to take budget cuts. So, your position is now no longer a thing. We wish you the best.”
Yeah. It sucks. Makes you feel like you’re not good enough for anything despite what your resume says. It highlights what you’re not so good at. Your personality flaws. That little voice in the back of your mind tells you you’ll never be good enough. Unfortunately, that little voice attacks at every process of job searching. While you’re scrolling through jobs. While you’re applying. Before the interview. During the interview. After the interview. It’s relentless and it wants to see you fail. To give into your doubts and fears and not rise to your full potential. My friend had that little voice come after her in the form of worry and anxiousness after the interview. She was waiting days for a response from the company and was trying to keep herself busy so she wouldn’t fret over it too much. After those few days, it came to no surprise to me when she happily sent out the message that she was offered the position and she accepted it.
It was curious, to me. Here I was in the sure faith that she’d get the job and yet she was like a boat on the waves, hoping and not hoping, fretting and pushing it off. Why is it that when the interview came, she admitted to having a hard time talking about herself, but I could sit here and write a book on how hard working and such an awesome person she is? Why is it that we can say all these great things about others, but struggle to promote good things about ourselves?
Turn the page to my latest interview. It was scheduled for later in the week. I had days to prepare. Yet, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I got up the day off, planned out my outfit, did something relaxing, thought over some answers to potential questions, and that little voice came knocking in my mind. It started asking:
“Why are you even bothering to prepare? You’re not going to get this job just like the last couple that rejected you.”
“What makes you think you’re qualified for this position? You have no experience in this field.”
“You think you’re good enough? Please! There’s hundreds of people better than you!”
“What are you going to tell them when they ask your pros and cons? You’re too quiet, remember? Your personality won’t clash.”
On and on it went. That little voice killed my morning and got me to a point where I didn’t even want to go to the interview. I’m so tired of being told: “We’re going with somebody else.”
When the interview finally came, I did my best. I’m better at written words rather than verbal communication, but I tried. It just sucks when you’re in the moment. You get an off the wall question and you lock up. When it’s all said and done, you walk away realizing that you could’ve answered that better. I walked away from that interview feeling okay about it. I decided I really hoped they’d pick me because the people were nice, the facility was fantastic, and they showed a lot of care in what they do. I dared to let myself consider how it would go if I got it. It’s closer to home. The pay is higher. They said they were willing to teach me everything I didn’t know and I knew I could learn a lot. There would be a lot of possibilities if I got.
Unfortunately, I didn’t.
I got the email early the next day saying they were going with someone else. It got me thinking that they only interviewed me out of courtesy. They already had someone in mind. That would explain why they were so lax about the interview and didn’t have many questions prepared…bummer.
So, here I am back at the beginning stages of searching and applying for jobs. That little voice I wish I could ignore keeps hanging around. You know it affects your interview answers. How can you talk yourself up when that little voice keeps reminding you how much you suck? And rejections go and add fuel to its fire. You hear other people tell you: “don’t worry the right thing will come along.” And that little voice scoffs and asks: “will it though? It’ll take too long.”
How do you combat that voice? How do you shut it up and stand in confidence? How do you bring your worth to that interview without seeming arrogant? How do you keep your hopes manageable?
Well, in regards to that little voice. Argue with it. If it says you’re not good enough, demand to know why? Make it list its reasons. Because you’re too quiet? That means you’re a good listener, you’re observant. Because you don’t have the experience? You’re willing to learn. Tell it why you’re worth the investment. There’s somebody out there better than you? That’s true. There’s always going to be someone better, but you’ve got a passion for this. You’re willing to fight for it.
That little voice isn’t going to go away easily. You’ve got to put the effort in to fight back. Believe in yourself despite the negativity. When it comes to doing the actual interview, always be kind. From my experience, kindness goes a long way and can offset the arrogance you feel for talking yourself up so much.
So, how do you keep your hopes manageable? You could lay out all the facts. Be logical about it. I mean, there’s a gazillion jobs out there. Odds are your going to get one. Or, you could expect disappointment, because then you’ll never be disappointed. But, I gotta ask, how many movies or books have you seen or read where the hope was the main theme? You get these down on their luck societies, prisoners, or children. They could be under the rule of a tyrant, lost in the wilderness, or facing the unbeatable odds, yet the villain is constantly trying to drown all hope because just a spark is too powerful to contain.
Why can’t we have hope like that in the job search process? We see those characters from those inspiring stories get knocked down to their knees. They reach their darkest hour where all hope seems lost and yet when you turn the page, there’s salvation. Hope again. They’re heroes, victorious, and all is well. Why don’t we view the job search like those stories? With every rejection, you’re brought to your darkest hour, but you have to keep going. Turn that page, and victory is right around the corner. The right job will come.
No matter where you are in the job searching process, I hope this article brought you some encouragement. I’m not going to give up finding the right job and I don’t think you should either. The next time you get an interview, I hope you really consider your answers and believe them. You are great for a number of reasons and no little voice in your mind is allowed to tell you otherwise.