On April 15, I had a long-awaited, in-person interview for a position I’m truly excited about; however, about a week prior to that, I had convinced myself that I would not come out on top. This was largely due to the fact that someone was kind enough to burst my little bubble of hope by letting me know that I would be competing with internal candidates. (Note the plurality here — internal candidates. Not a fun thing to hear.)
In a matter of seconds, I felt defeated and unsure of myself — like no amount of experience or preparation would help me land the job. To add insult to injury, I began to over analyze everything I had done up until that point — from my application and cover letter to my attempts at networking with all the right people in all the right places. In retrospect, however, I can say that this was an extreme overreaction, but I knew there was a legitimate reason for it.
A while back, a trusted friend and mentor encouraged me to reach out to someone who could give me one-on-one interview coaching. After six to seven months of job hunting and no full-time job offers, she could sense that I was running on empty and lacking motivation. This translated to thinking and (subconsciously) speaking in defeatist terms, which I was
in denial mildly aware of. Even so, I didn’t reach out for help — at least not right away. I wanted to tackle this issue on my own terms, and honestly, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. Months later — as I sat on the brink of self-sabotage and attempted to digest that dreadful news about my competition — I knew there was no better time for an intervention.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.” — Unknown
That afternoon, I contacted my mentor and an expert in my field. After I shared the news with them, I was met with firm, yet loving reminders about confidence and how I shouldn’t be so quick to relinquish my power to people and uncontrollable circumstances. They were totally right, so I couldn’t argue with them. All of the second-guessing and questioning of my abilities needed to stop — and I had about a week to make that happen.
The Turning Point
The turning point came when I sent an email to my soon-to-be coach. By that evening, we were on the phone, and within minutes, my mindset had completely changed. Not because I received special tips and tricks on how to nail an interview, but because someone who knew nothing about me took the time to clearly and succinctly walk me through the facts and ask me the right questions about:
- the job description,
- my educational background,
- my personal and professional experiences,
- my interests and competencies, and
- the unique qualities that make me, me and that no one else — not even an internal candidate — could bring to the table.
No fluff, just the facts; and before I knew it, my story came alive (for the coach and for myself) and I knew exactly how I would use it to set myself apart from the other candidates. As the conversation wrapped up, I understood that the biggest battle was in my head, not in the realities of the situation; and that was enough to get me out of the over-analytical mess that entangled me earlier that day. I was reminded, yet again, of how important it is to believe in myself and to embrace my story — because it’s no accident.
When April 15 came around, I gave it my all and I walked out of my interview feeling totally confident in what I had shared with the panelists. Did I get the job? I don’t know yet, but one thing is for certain: if I don’t, it’s really their loss and not mine, and there’s a better opportunity waiting for me.
I am extremely grateful for the individuals who collectively coached me in the days leading up to that interview because it truly made a difference in how I approached it. Are you a long-time job seeker? Has joblessness or rejection taken a toll on your confidence and your performance in interviews? If so, I highly recommend seeking out a professional mentor, someone who has been where you want to go, and/or someone who can speak into your situation from an objective standpoint — like a life coach. For long-time job seekers, it’s extremely important to maintain a positive outlook and to know when and how to restrategize. Sometimes that means asking for help.