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15 Tips to Ace Your Job Interview with Mindfulness and Gratitude

Do you feel stressed about interviews? Here are 15 mindfulness based interview tips for success!

We all attach intense meaning to an event that is simply like a first Tinder date. The interviewer barely knows you from your resume; it is almost like a right swipe on Tinder. Yet, we create the stress that we want to get the job, or be validated from the interviewer.

In reality though, the interviewer already has a perfect mate in mind, and your trick is to find what that is and if you fit it, but more importantly, is that what you want to be for the next 3 years of your life.

Lauren Rivera, Associate Professor of Management at The Kellogg School found the similarity really matters, and whether you are “country club” or “scrappy” vibes would engender you to a different hirer. She summarises it best: “Interviewers get excited about candidates who share their own passions, and are therefore likelier to serve as their champion in the final hiring-committee deliberations.” [1]

Now, this does not mean that it is a sure win or a hopeless situation. Bear in mind, that an interviewer is a human with a collection of experiences, and therefore it is your job during the interview to see if you both have these similarities to make the next few years of 8 hours a day 5 days a week enjoyable.

You will spend more time with your boss than your boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, so interview them properly.

The Grateful Interview Process

We want to be mindful of our inner thoughts, desires and balance it with the prospective work environment and the proposition that the interviewer is telling us. It is not a one sided examination, although it could feel that way if you are desperately job seeking.

Remember, interviewers get excited by people who can be their champions, so they are always more than happy to tell you how things will be in the environment they live in. If only you ask the right questions. Thus, the interview tips here are to help you nail that interview with your dream companies, but there is no necessity to join!

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How to prepare for an interview

1) Be very clear about your outcome for this interview

An interview need not always to be hired. It can also be for you to learn about the company, the team leader or the industry. It can also be training for your interview skills. Whichever it is, you do have to enter with a clear focus on what this interview is meant to do for you. If this is not clear, it will subconsciously come across to the interviewer and you will lose your confidence as well. Think about all your past interviews — which were the ones that you knew what you wanted and the sense of control you felt?

What if you currently feel you need a job badly, and that is the only thing on your mind? Then do remember that taking up the wrong job, could result in dismissal during the probation period. You may lose a current job or pick up a bad reputation in the industry. It is better to keep going for more interviews (Of course, if you are about to resort to crime to feed your household, then ignore all these and grab the first job that comes along).

2) Read up about the company and the organisation structure

Spend some time reading about the company and the product reviews, as well as the organisation structure of the company. This is essential in giving you a hint about their culture and their decision making processes. For a startup, this could also include the amount of funding they have. For a large company, the lack of online news and promotion also tells you a lot about the culture inside the company.

3) Stalk your interviewer online

Just like you want to know the organisation; you will also want to know more about your interviewer, because that person is most likely your immediate supervisor ( although not always necessary). The great thing about today’s connected world is that Linkedin, Twitter, and maybe Facebook, Instagram ( Tik Tok?) would give you a shade of the personality of your interviewer. Facebook and Instagram can be personal, but if the profile is left to Public then it tells you about the person as well.

4) Use the Company’s product

This does not need further elaboration. You will want to enjoy the product if it is a place you want to work for in the long run. I would even say that if you do not like the product, then you really should not be selling your soul working for it.

5) Speak to people in your network who have directly interacted with the role

Linkedin is an amazing tool in this century; it shows people’s connections, so reach out to friends and get a taste of the job.

6) Glassdoor and Word of Mouth Reviews

I do browse Glassdoor, but I only value it if the role is in a big company and they hire a lot of that same vocation. For example, a technology company that has at least 1000 software engineers. Glassdoor reviews are like Tripadvisor reviews; you need a critical population to inference a proper opinion. It goes without saying that Word of Mouth reviews are always bias, however, the benefit is that it could give more context than a Glassdoor review.

How to introduce yourself during an interview

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7) Anticipate the Interview Questions

If it is a technical job, do expect technical questions, or if it is a sales job, do expect questions on sales. The interviewer will ask you questions to convince themselves that your competency is at the level they desire. Thus, for any interview, you need to prepare your answers with the follow on tips below.

8) Introduce Your Bio Briefly

Back to the dating analogy, you will want to keep the Bio brief, because the interviewer would have read your resume already, for the person to want to spend some time with you.

This, this is like breaking the ice on the first date. Keep it brief, and don’t go overboard. The real dance happens later.

9) Wait for the First Question from the Interviewer

Immediately after you do your brief introduction, take a pause, and leave the air hanging for a few seconds. The interviewer would probably start on their first question. If the interviewer does not, then you can start with your first question to the interviewer reiterating the key outline of the role, and ask what is the most important aspects in the interviewers point of view.

Remember that many job posts have unrealistic requirements and expectations! Nancy Collamer, a Forbes contributing writer suggests that most people should aim for a 70% fit in the job post requirements, as there are simply too many over-the-top job posts [2].

What this means is that it is imperative for you to ask the interviewer what matters most to them! Chances are the highlights that they remember are what you will be faced with everyday.

How to manage Interview Questions

10) Always answer the Questions with an anecdote of Strength and room for improvement

Research has shown that people learn best through stories, and your interviewer is no different. The best way to reply any question is to wrap the answer with a key anecdote that you want the listener to remember. Thus, you should have a few stories ready for each group of typical questions.

Your story should highlight your strength and an area where you can improve on hindsight. Everyone wants to see the growth in a person; just take a look the popularity of Master Chef and Singing Reality Shows. Your future hiring manager is no different.

Also, never ever Lie in your anecdotes. In today’s extremely connected world; lies can be easily dismantled.

What Questions to ask the interviewer

11) Ask who will be your managers and stakeholders

Most interviewees will ask about their managers but forget that stakeholders are important in a big company. It is good to know who are the stakeholders for your role. Some times, these stakeholders may have even greater sway on your future manager’s boss. Listen to how your manager describes them; it will give you an indication of the dynamics.

12) What is the company culture, although take it with a pinch of salt

Unfortunately, company culture is rarely described accurately, because everybody interacts with the culture differently based on their own life experience. Nonetheless, it is a question you should ask your hiring manager, because you want to know how your manager thinks of the company.

13) How does this role support your interviewer (manager’s) success?

This is another form of the earlier question above in Tip 9. It can either be used for the end of the interview or the beginning, but best not to put it in the middle. Nobody remembers the middle of the interview.

Phone and Video Interview Tips

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14) In a Phone Interview; you are judged by your voice

In the past decade, phone interviews used to be lengthy and were meant to be a substitute for face to face interviews. With the advent of high quality streaming video available to the masses, phone interviews have mostly been converted to video interviews.

That said, the phone interview is still popular as a screening process. As a hiring manager, I like to use a short phone interview to have a quick conversation with the candidate. It takes less time for both and allows me to end the session if it is not going well. As an interviewee, the key to a successful phone session, is the energy that is projected in the voice and the choice of words.

15) In a Skype or Zoom interview; you are judged by your internet connection

In this Post Covid world, where the rules of remote working are being re-defined, you will most likely be having a Skype, Zoom, Teams or Hangout interview at some point. The good news is that the high quality of video means that most cues are available other than physical touch. Hence, there is no special techniques you have to use for a video interview. However, you should test your software and internet connection before the interview.

A bad internet connection interrupts your conversation and more importantly, it subconsciously implies to the interviewer that you are not tech savvy, rightfully or wrongly.

Bonus! — Post Interview

16) Follow Up Email after Interviews. Yes or No?

Should you send follow up emails after an interview? There is a school of thought that it is important to be polite and to remind the hiring manager of your interest. Personally, I do not find this necessary because the hiring manager also wants to fill the position promptly, and would be incentivised to reach out. There are certain exceptions here, for example, in a sales role, where the overt show of follow up matters.

Now, if you have a portfolio to send over or an assignment to complete, then it makes perfect sense to send a follow up email. Hence, one possible hack is to send a follow up link or article that was discussed during the interview.

17) What if there are assignments?

Assignments should be the best friend of all interviewees, however, many people get stressed by it. The best way is to do the assignment to the best of your ability and enjoy it as much as possible.

The assignment gives you an idea of what is expected from the role, and your submission gives the hiring manager a glimpse into your brain. Conversely, you may discover it is not what you are looking for, or the manager may realise that there will be no fit.

Now that the interview is over. Are you feeling happy?

MARK ADRIANE on Unsplash

Every interview should be enjoyed in the present, without the pressures of wanting to get a job. Yes, it sounds easier than said than done, but that is the beauty of gratitude and mindfulness.

I have had the experience of going to an interview where I cleared 4 rounds really well, and the company was an up and coming brand name, but at the 5th round, the interview only lasted 5 minutes. The overall head who was not my manager, just felt that I was not a good fit.

I was unhappy that day. Extremely. It was such a waste of time.

By the evening, I decided to be consciously grateful for the journey and the insights into the company. I promptly forgot about it, until three months later, when the talent manager dropped me a message to let me know the role had closed. Odd, but appreciated the gesture.

A year later, I realised a friend of mine got the job ( and his resume was definitely more apt), but he left the role within 6 months. It was a very bad mismatch of expectations on the role. Wow!

To be clear, the story is not meant to be one of “revenge”, but that the best interviews can be the ones for the jobs that you do not get.

Good luck to everyone going for interviews, and do remember to always breathe, be clear of your takeways ( Tip 1), and enjoy the conversations. It is a date, not an examination!

Disclaimer: I write as a hobby on topics that I find useful to have a voice on. Nothing here represents the opinions of current or past employers, nor product recommendations or financial advisory in any form. I hope you find the writing useful.

Sources

[1] Rivera, L., (2013), Hirable Like Me, Kellogg Insight, https://insight.kellogg.northwestern.edu/article/hirable_like_me, Accessed 9 May 2020

[2] Collamer, N., (2014), Forbes: Why so many job postings are ridiculous, https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/09/22/why-so-many-job-postings-are-so-ridiculous/#3ef052065ad0, Accessed 9 May 2020

Originally published at https://www.thegratefulcollective.com on May 9, 2020.

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Startup Exited Founder | Author who sold a couple of books | Investor & Trader | Data Scientist in Theory | Car & Popcorn Fanatic | Singapore

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Winston Ng

Winston Ng

Startup Exited Founder | Author who sold a couple of books | Investor & Trader | Data Scientist in Theory | Car & Popcorn Fanatic | Singapore

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