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The interview pro tip to calm your nerves

It only takes a quick search of the internet to find so much guidance on how to approach a job interview. You will want to verify in advance the location and know where you’re going and where to park, be punctual, wear professional dress, and silence your cell phone before the meeting. You should offer a firm handshake (or a covid-elbow bump), show you’ve researched the company and understand what they do, maintain good eye contact, ask carefully-considered questions, and of course, follow up with a thank- you note.

Most of this guidance holds true for virtual/video interviews as well. But instead of researching where to park, you should spend that time making sure your background looks presentable. And, while you should definitely dress for success from the waist up, you might be able to get away with wearing something more comfortable on your bottom half, or at least kicking off your shoes under your desk.

Preparing ahead of time will go a long way towards easing any jitters you may have going into the interview. But I have one more suggestion for a way you can change your mindset to increase your confidence and help you feel less nervous.

Interviewing is a two-way process

Just remember this: Yes, the company is interviewing you for a job opening, but just as much or even more than that, you are interviewing the company to see whether they’re an organization to which you will feel good about offering your services.

That’s it. That’s the tip. You are both being interviewed, and doing the interviewing.

Remember in 2010, when LeBron James, then a free agent, held a made-for-TV event, hyped for days in advance, to announce that he was going to join the Miami Heat?

Did you catch the way he phrased it? “I’ll be taking my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”

James is one of the greatest NBA players of all time, and he’s earned every bit of swagger that statement implies. What I like about it is the way he framed it: He’s offering his unique talents and skills to his next employer. Now, it’s easy to be confident when you have a multi-million dollar deal on the table. But James knew he had something of unique value to offer, and he announced his decision of which offer he’ll accept with the confidence of someone who knows his worth.

We mere mortal workers can similarly approach our own job interviews. Carry the essence of James’s mindset with you; have confidence that what you offer is a unique blend of your experience and skills and knowledge and approach to work, and the awareness that it is of value to the organization you choose to bring it to. Yes, the employer offers a certain package that includes cash compensation and some valuable benefits, but you offer something that only you and you alone can bring to the table.

Be sure your resume (and other career marketing materials) reflects your unique value proposition to your future employers. And next time the interview jitters set in, remember this: The job interview goes both ways.

Photo from AP News, Jan. 2020

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