Imposter syndrome and fear. It can be paralyzing. Fear of looking like you don’t know what you’re talking about, all insecurities becoming realities because you stumble over your words.
- The vibe
- The ramble
It doesn’t matter if it’s a simple 15 minute screening interview or a 40 minute meeting with senior management. Interviews can be paralyzing if you struggle with fear or imposter syndrome.
Quick tips that sound cliche but actually help:
- Deep breaths. Before you answer, breathe. My favorite is responding immediately with, “Oh, that is great question” and that comment gives time to think.
- It’s not a race, take your time to develop a solid response that sounds like you and not a google search response.
- Mentally become indifferent. Trust me, it helps. Constantly tell yourself that this is not the only job opportunity out there.
- Apply to as many as you can. Since this article is specifically referring to the tech industry, there is no shortage of opportunities out there. Apply to them all, because you are likely to only hear back from 3–5% for an interview.
- Remember you are in control, and if you feel like you’re not, take it back. If a company reaches out for an interview, that’s when you can be picky, decide if you want to take their interview or not. There is no law that says you have to take every interview that comes your way.
- Choose to make the interview a conversation. This is a choice you make. When they ask you a question, answer it and tie in a question for your interviewers.
Do not get me wrong, this is not an easy task.
Restructuring your state of mind takes so much time, but it is well worth the outcome. Something to start doing now is practice interviewing. Apply to jobs when you don’t want to change jobs. This gives you safe practice space. Do this at least once a year, if you have a paralyzing fear of interviews then do it more than once a year. However, you want to make sure you’re not draining yourself with these practice interviews. LinkedIn (and other job boards) have quick/easy apply options, when you’re practicing just focus on those types of jobs.
Key questions to ask yourself:
What is intimidating you?
- They’re using a vocabulary you’re not familiar with: “Apologies, can you expand on that?” Once they explain you should be able to move forward with the conversation.
- They’re using a vocabulary you should be familiar with: “Oh yes, of course, we use different terminology internally for our stakeholders”.
- The interviewer is abrasive: You do not belong in that interview. If the interviewer is making you feel uncomfortable, you don’t have to tell them that, but you also do not need to follow up. You do not belong at this company. BE PICKY. If they’re making you feel uncomfortable one of my favorite starter lines is, “That’s an interesting way of phrasing that…”.
- Specific company question about culture or core values: Do your research about the company BEFORE. All it takes is a simple google search to get a basic understanding of the vibe of the company. Jot down 3 key points, that’s all you need to create a summary.
What’s the worse that can happen?
You don’t get the job. That’s it.
You don’t die AND you were just granted a new opportunity to network with someone you didn’t know existed until this interview.
Connect with everyone present in the interview immediately on LinkedIn with a personalized message (IF you actually would value them as a connection);
“Hello [name], it was great talking with you today [insert details]! Even if we end up not working together, I would love to stay connected”.
- Make the interview a conversation.
- Teach yourself to become indifferent.
- Ask yourself what’s intimidating you.
- What’s the worst that can happen? You don’t get the job and you’ll get another one that better fits.