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How to be confident in an interview: advice from a self proclaimed introvert

I have done countless interviews in my life. In my college career I completed 9 internships/jobs in total. If you know me you probably know that I am not the most confident person in the room. I am shy, I stutter when I talk at times, and I get nervous in front of new people. How did I navigate the nerves of doing interviews? Here are some simple tips to KILL that interview:

Perfect practice makes perfect: You need to practice PERFECTLY to be perfect. If you are interviewing for a law firm – you cannot practice as if you are interviewing for a management consulting job. You need to practice for your specific field. When I interviewed for a large global law firm (for an entry level position), I practiced as if I was going in as an Associate. I learned about the firm, their competition, their stakeholders, my interest in law, and looked up countless resources regarding law firm interviews. When I went in to the interview I had an idea of what the firm was about (the good and the bad). I didn’t prepare like any other entry level interviewee might have; instead I took it a step further. This will be noticed and will help you seem knowledgeable and confident during the interview.

Know and be able to account for everything in your resume: If you put MS Excel as your skills – you need to refresh on formulas, last time you used Excel to complete a project, and anything from Pivot Tables to graphs. Know your stuff and be able to back it up. I take a sticky note and summarize each notable skill and every position on my resume. Being able to summarize your skill or a job in a sticky note allows you to successfully share your idea in an interview when you’re time crunched.

Research about your interviewer(s): Take time to look up your interviewers (HR), Hiring Manager etc. If your company went through a M&A transaction or an acquisition – you can direct your question to the interviewer that has been with the company the longest! (show that research and that 2 AM Facebook stalking skills). Everyone has a public profile nowadays so look them up on LinkedIn, Google their name + company name, and even check Facebook. Find things about your interviewers that are interesting (but won’t make you look like a creepy person!). You may even find similar affiliations, music taste, places you volunteered in etc.

Get EVERYTHING ready the night before: Make sure you have your outfit in an hanger, your shoes cleaned, your pad folio ready with 5 copies of resume and 5 copies of cover letter, do your nails and etc (check the bottom of this article for NEED lists to take with to your car in an interview). Also, take a shower + shave the night before. This way you can do a quick body shower in the morning instead of worrying about hair and shaving! (goal is to be as relaxed as possible with abundant time)

Get to the venue 1 hour earlier: Use that hour to refresh over your notes, finalize questions you want to ask in an interview, and just to feel more relaxed. Get to the general venue but don’t go in the office or near where the interviewers can see you an hour earlier – you will look anxious and nervous if you do so. Instead, pick a coffee shop in the building or next to the building so you can gather your thoughts.

Practice power poses before the interview: Your body language has incredible power to influence your own mind. Practice a power pose: stand like Superman in front of the mirror (puff out your chest and give a BIIIIIG smile). Do so for a minute….you will feel more confident!

Go to the bathroom before the interview: Am I the only one that needs to go the bathroom when I am nervous? My stomach starts turning and I feel sick. So, take 10 minutes out of that 1 hour venue time and go to the restroom.

Lean in when you are talking: If you are soft-spoken (like I am) – try to lean in towards the person when talking (just don’t do it too much). Pretend you are talking to a friend about a juicy topic! Gesture your body towards the person and make sure they are being listened to.

THINGS TO HAVE WITH YOU IN AN INTERVIEW DAY: 

  • Padfolio (padfolio needs to be black and needs to have 5 resumes, 5 cover letter, a notepad, and a pen)
  • Phone charger (put in your purse incase your phone battery dies and you’re supposed to be using GPS)
  • Mints (for obvious reasons)
  • Make up wipes (for makeup mishaps but use minimal makeup and focus on your content rather than looks)
  • Drivers License (stick it in your padfolio – you might need it in a building with extra security)
  • Snack (maybe a protein bar….I always get hungry when I am nervous)
  • Extra pantyhose (if you are interviewing for a conservative job like a law firm)
  • Extra interview outfit (BUT only if you’re clumsy, have a ride and can afford it). Hang it up in an hanger and stick it on your backseat.

THINGS TO TAKE WITH YOU TO AN INTERVIEW:

  • Padfolio (see above criteria on what needs to be there) + add your driver’s license and your car keys only.
  • NO NO NO NO NO phones! Leave it in your purse in your car.
  • I prefer no purse but if you are adamant – take a purse as well. (Plain black tote)

Good luck with your interview! And remember, the luck favors the prepared….you have to be ready to seize the opportunity as they come. Please feel free to comment or ask questions if you need help with resume writing, cover letter, or interview prep. As always, embrace who you are and be authentic.

 

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