How To Know When You Are "Really Ready" to Give A Good Interview: Don't Deceive Yourself And Inadvertently Create An Interview Choking Situation
Success in giving a good interview is 90% preparation. Your goal is to prepare so extensively in advance that the interview seems easy and predictable in comparison. If you practice correctly and diligently, you will gain a sense of high confidence and deservedness to succeed. People tend to deceive themselves about how ready they think they are for an interview. This article describes six major ways people deceive themselves into thinking they are ready, and 25 ways to know when you are truly ready to give a great interview.
How To Know When You Are "Really Ready" to Give A Good Interview
Don't Deceive Yourself And Inadvertently Create An Interview Choking Situation
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
Now you have had some interview coaching sessions with your interview coach. You worked on learning skills for handling stress from a mental, physical and breath control perspective. You understand how stress reactions and the fight or flight response happens. You learned many secrets of interview preparation and behavior and how the interview game is played. You gained mental toughness and much personal insight.
Let me compare this interview process above to taking a golf lesson. You go to your golf pro and learn some new golf skills—perhaps a new grip, stance, swing and mental cues for all that. The pro showed you how to do all the moves, had you try them and told you how to practice all of it. Your job now is to go off and rewrite your notes, practice with awareness, make notes on your progress, record additional questions or roadblocks to address, and be a great student as you negotiate the learning curve, and ultimately, master the material and the new skills. Of course, no one takes a single golf lesson, expecting to master everything. The reality is that it takes additional lessons to continue improving.
Improving your interview skills is almost identical.
To make everything you did with your interview coach come together, you need to spend serious time practicing all you learned. You need to handle the learning curve, and go past that to the mastery phase. That takes time.
You need many mock interviews. You need to craft great answers. You need to be able to use the stress control skills seamlessly. It may take up to a month or more of hard work for it all to come together. Remember, "Hope is not a strategy". You need to be intentional about what you want to have happen. Focus on what you want to have happen, not on what you are trying to avoid.
How People Tend To Deceive Themselves About How Ready They Think They Are For An Interview
It's really a predictable, yet unfortunate phenomenon I see every day in my office. I am referring to how people think they are ready for an interview, but are not. I can speak with a client for 35 minutes or so, and they can be highly conversant, articulate, relaxed, natural, and give great answers to my casual questions about them, their career and the upcoming job they are seeking. But once I say "Let's do a mock interview", everything shifts. They sit up stiffly, look tense, and take on all the characteristics of choking that they told me about over the phone. They become very self-conscious, halting and second-guess and edit themselves as they answer. And of course their answers and performance is sub-par, to say the least.
I am not judging them in the slightest. I can empathize. When I do television work, seeing that red camera light come on, and hearing the Director say "And... action!", makes me also feel I am in a rather surreal situation at times. But I have a mental system to overcome it and give a solid performance.
Most of my clients come to me having deceived themselves about how hard it is to give a good interview. It's a lot of work. Here are the six major ways people delude themselves into thinking they are ready to interview, when they are not.
- They avoid facing the questions that scare them.
- They avoid doing the hard work of crafting great answers, and instead settle for the obvious, feel good, top of mind answers.
- They avoid doing actual mock interviews, and instead, simply read the answers in their minds, or out loud.
- They avoid replicating the actual interview conditions, by not wearing the same clothes they will use, sitting in similar chairs, doing the interview for the probable length, not breaking character, etc. Hence, once in the interview, they are surprised, and feel off balance.
- They under-practice and hope for the best.
- They don't solicit independent perspective from others on the quality of their interview skills.
25 Ways To Know When You Are Truly Well-Prepared For An Interview
Just as in school when you went into certain exam situations "knowing" you were completely ready to nail the test, you can have those same feelings when interviewing. Here are 25 ways to tell if you are truly ready to go into the interview and give a solid performance.
- You know your material inside and out.
- You know exactly what you are going to say for each question.
- There are no questions that scare you any longer.
- The material flows out of you easily.
- You don't need to "remember" the material. You own it.
- You are fine with your mind answering differently each time you are asked the same question, as long as the essential material is covered correctly.
- You don't second-guess yourself as you go into the interview.
- You trust your answers are "good enough" and don't attempt to improve them as you are answering.
- You have stopped judging and evaluating yourself as you answer. Your inner critic has gone away.
- You have stopped judging and evaluating the progress of the interview, and simply accept what is happening, as you hope for the best.
- You have dropped your belief that to give a solid interview, you must be perfect. Instead, you go for excellence.
- You lose the obsessive-compulsive feelings that you must practice non-stop, intensively right up to the interview.
- Your mind easily stays on what you are doing, and does not slip back into the past, nor project into the future.
- You can relax and simply "let it happen".
- You have well-learned stress control techniques integrated into your interview skill set.
- You know how to manage your anxiety and deeply relax an hour or so before your interview.
- You have your thoughts and mental images under control, so they are positive and helpful to your cause.
- Any previous filler words, awkward pauses and fidgeting have virtually disappeared.
- There are no more memory lapses. You don't get "stuck".
- Your mock interviews go very well.
- You can give the same quality answers, with the same quality performance, as you look at a human being asking you the questions, as you can when you speak into a tape recorder, or when you are alone.
- You no longer have a need in mock interviews to editorialize or comment on your answers, or "break character". You "play along" and maintain the pretense that you are in an actual interview.
- You believe you are completely prepared and have attained the peace of mind that comes from that knowledge.
- You look forward to an interview as an interesting mental challenge.
- You see interviews as an adventure.
Success In Giving A Good Interview Is 90% Preparation
Your goal is to prepare so extensively in advance that the interview seems easy and predictable in comparison. If you practice correctly and diligently, you will gain a sense of high confidence and deservedness to succeed.
You will also get the peace of mind that you have left nothing to chance, and that there is nothing that can happen in the interview that you can't handle. The military has a saying regarding training: "The more you sweat in peacetime, the less you bleed in war". An interview is at least a battle of wits, a game to be contested. Train for that game before it even begins.
Just as you studied hard for school tests and left no stone unturned in your quest for an "A" grade, you can do the same for an interview, and show up feeling great that you are fully prepared. That prepared feeling, of being fully competent, converts into high confidence.
This article is an excerpt from the Interview Success
Guide, an indispensable tool you need to make your interview campaign
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To learn more about how interview coaching can help you improve your abilities
in media situations, oral test and exam situations, and job interviews visit
Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach, at:
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Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
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