9 Tips: How to Ace your Job Search whilst Maintaining your Self-Esteem
One of the fastest ways of messing up your self-esteem is to take yourself through the process of looking for jobs. Some people even put off looking for a new job because of how tiring, emotionally taxing and demoralising it can be.
So if you are on a job search now, my heart goes out to you. I’m on one myself now and the emotional ups and downs are real.
But I hope that this post will bring some comfort to you, at least. Just know that all these will be over soon.
If you’ve been called up for an interview, they think you qualify
So if you are already doubting yourself, don’t. They’ve seen your application and you’ve passed the keyword search or the HR already sifting through the piles of resumes – and they’ve picked yours!
Now they want to meet you and get to know you better and see if you are the person they want in their organisation.
Congrats! It’s a good first step.
You have power in the interview process
Yes, the employer is leading or conducting the interview. They spend more of the time asking the questions.
But this doesn’t mean that you are at their mercy. Remember – they are choosing a candidate, YOU are choosing a place that you may want to be at 5 days a week for most of the year, for at least a couple of years or maybe even the rest of your life.
You are also making a choice in choosing who you want to work with. You want to be sure that you like the hiring manager, that there aren’t any red flags about the organisation from what you are hearing, you are happy with the location/pay, the role is what you can envision yourself doing etc.
Don’t feel like just because they are asking all the questions, they have more power. With that said, ask questions! Do it in a way that isn’t interrogative of course, but do ask the important things you’ve been thinking about and which will impact your job the most.
Interviews are two-way processes. You need to be sussing out the organisation as much as they are sussing you out.
There is no such thing as a perfect interview or a perfect candidate
Sometimes we are so anxious about interviews because we think we have to perform really, really well to be selected.
No. You are not aiming to get A grades at this interview. Your sole aim is to find out if the company/industry is a good fit for you and what you are looking for, whilst representing yourself well.
If you think your competitors are out there being all confident and giving flawless answers and wowing the interviewers – no. And even if they did, that doesn’t mean they are the best fit for the role. Sometimes we have no idea what the organisation is really looking for.
You’ve probably been in interviews where you think you didn’t do well, but you impressed the interviewers, and you’ve probably been in interviews where you felt you wow-ed them, but you weren’t picked. So, you never know.
Just show up, relax and do your best.
Think about all the weird/annoying/idiotic people that have gotten jobs
You’ve probably worked with a really idiotic colleague before, and have been on teams with people who have all sorts of strange habits and behaviour. I’ve seen so many incompetent, lazy, narcissistic people get jobs.
These people would have probably revealed some bits of their personality at the interview. Of course it also takes a pretty astute and observant hiring team to notice these things. And honestly, most people don’t pick up on these behaviours well.
But I think about all the lazy, incompetent people I’ve worked with – the whole office knew they were incompetent but they still kept their jobs.
So if these people can get jobs and stay in them, why can’t you?
Assume you are not going to get the job/do not even want the job
Alot of times, we feel super on edge and job interviews screw with our self-confidence cause we are really desperate to get the job. It’s the energy you approach these situations with. Are you going in telling yourself you absolutely need to get this job – it’s do or die. Or are you being open about the entire situation?
When you see an interview as a conversation and as an informational session, it’d be less stressful and nerve-wrecking for you. After all, you probably don’t know that much about the company or the role yet to really want to commit 100% of yourself, and put all your eggs in their basket.
Many times we idealise the role that we are applying for, but there is usually alot about the process and the company that you’ve yet to uncover.
So imagine that you’ve found out more about the role and have no desire to actually take on the job – you will find yourself feeling alot more relaxed during the interview process, and heck you might get the job in the end because of how relaxed you are!
Always be prepared
If you are always nervous and on edge for interviews, do invest the time to prepare well ahead of your interview rounds.
The preparation does take the edge off things. It stops your worrying and also lessens the need to wing things on your interview day – especially if you are not good at thinking on the spot.
These days, questions can come out of left-field. You may not have prepared for the exact question the interviewers are throwing at you. But if you have gone through the thought process and have some pointers – and more importantly, examples – to all the potential questions, you are more likely to be able to put something together as a response to sudden questions.
Practice being interviewed
If you’ve not been interviewing for awhile because you’ve not been job searching for a long time or you are new to the job search scene, you may want to practice your responses.
Get a friend or a trusted person to go through the questions with you. Imagine that they are your hiring manager and set up a mock interview. Respond in the way that you would at your interview. And ask your friend to give you feedback on your responses as well as your non-verbal behaviour.
I know some people who go a step further and video-record their mock interview sessions just to observe their body language and nonverbal cues. I think this is a really good move if you can afford the time!
If you don’t have anyone you can practice it with, at least verbalise aloud your answers. This will make you more comfortable when you hear your own voice than just repeating it to yourself in your head.
Practice talking to people
Many people feel very uncomfortable in interviews partly because you have to interact with a complete stranger, appear warm and personable and “sell” your skills, so to speak.
As much as skills matter, many people will pick a person who has most of the skills and who they get along with during the interview. So your personality and whether you click with the interviewer or not will also make a difference.
Most hiring managers would rather work with someone whom they click with personally. And I bet you’d rather work with someone you click with too, especially if they are your line manager.
So if you find it difficult to engage in small talk or have difficulties presenting your personality, do practice.
And how do you practice? By making a concerted effort to speak to strangers and engage in active listening and conversation even when you are talking to people you know. Appear curious, interested and friendly.
Of course, all these things take time. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you still haven’t got the hang of things.
The job search/interview process can be a pain. I feel you. It does bring about psychological and emotional upheaval for many of us.
But. You are not alone. Most of us have ups and downs in our job search. But do know that things will get better and there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
With 10 years of experience as a Researcher (MSc) in Psychology, Neuroscience, Mental Health, Consumer and Organisational Behaviour; I help action-oriented, time-strapped people and solopreneurs crush their inner critics, navigate toxic workplaces and relationships and build their self-esteem so that you can have the freedom, happiness and confidence you desire. I spend the rest of my time daydreaming and downing cups of tea/coffee – my life’s vice. Ask me any question and I will answer it in a post.