Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interviewing When You Feel Discouraged

I realized many years ago how very difficult it is to be "on" for an interview during a long job search. I had to be at my best just at the time when I was feeling worst about myself and my abilities! It was such a challenge to present myself with confidence and strength, when inside I wondered why no one had offered me a job yet. If I was so great, why wasn't I getting offers?

One of my job searches lasted two very long and painful years. It was then that I learned how to dig deep inside and latch onto what I knew I was really great at doing, knew to my core, deep in my gut and heart. Absent external validation, I found that I could only refer back to what I loved to do, what I was enthusiastic about, what brought light to my eyes and started my brain working feverishly, what made me happy about work.

Using what I loved to do as the starting point, I began to approach each potential job through the lens of how it would allow me to use those abilities and skills. When I did that, I didn't have to "perform" because I had no trouble getting enthusiastic about what I'd done before and the possibility of doing it again in a different arena or context.

When I was discouraged, it was tempting to think about all I lacked that seemingly caused me not to get a job I wanted. Yet that further discouraged me. I swear that recruiters can smell lack of confidence a mile away in a resume, cover letter, telephone call or in-person interview. And they turn away, moving on to the next candidate. I learned that I had to summon up my enthusiasm from deep within at each step in the job search process.

During an interview, it's especially important to focus on the job challenges you love and how much value you bring to the position. If an interviewer asks about anything you don't know, say you can learn. Don't dwell on your lacks - bring it right back to your abilities, strengths, and value-added. Confident enthusiasm is the attitude I recommend.

Employers are looking both for a specific skill set AND an attitude of someone who really wants to do the work. So allow yourself to show that you really want to do the work, and that will go a long way to getting them to make you an offer.

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