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3 Ways to Stand Tall in a Job Interview

Tim Tyrell-SmithTim Tyrell-Smith (pictured) is an author and speaker, as well as the creator of Tim's Strategy, a web site that provides strategies and advice for the job search, career advancement, and work-life balance.

To feel small means to feel less important. No longer a player. As if what you're doing and saying is of little interest to your audience. It's a self-defeating mindset that needs to be wiped away.

It needs to be replaced with a new, positive view about yourself and your job search strategy. But how?

If you're like many of the job seekers I meet with every week, there's an aspect of “small” thinking in your outlook. But what’s driving it?

Your Starting Mindset

If you were laid off from your last job, there’s a good chance you harbor some negative feelings about what happened. And about whether you did something wrong to cause your sudden departure. Do you feel broken?

You haven’t found a job yet, but my guess is that you’ve had few successful interviews. And the ones you’ve had led only to frustration. So much work to get there and they chose someone else. Or no one.

A Growing Feeling of Desperation

After many months of hard work and a growing recognition that this may be a long road, you begin to question things, especially your abilities. Your original confidence may have become more of a maybe than a yes, and that change, where you're feeling small, can show up in the interview.

What does it mean to feel small in a job interview? It starts with your attitude, preparation, and performance. So let’s address three ways you can ditch the “small” and focus on feeling “tall” in an interview.

1. Attitude: Walking Through an Open Door

An open door means you've made it past the initial stage and advanced to the interview. You're not just one of eight candidates on the docket. In fact, you're on the VIP list because you've done a number of things to reach this stage.

First, know that you found this job and applied for it because it was a great fit for you and the hiring company. You have clear job search objectives and recognize a great fit when it comes along.

Second, you obeyed the 10 commandments of networking. You’ve reached far enough to find a few key people working at the hiring company. Since you’ve communicated well over the past months, they knew you were looking and wanted to help.

So, in the end, you didn’t really apply. Your resume was dropped off with the hiring manager with a few nice words about you. The hiring company is genuinely looking forward to meeting you, so you can walk in the door knowing these things. Relax, smile, and start to feel taller.

2. Preparation: Core Issues and Great Questions

You’ve researched online and through your network. You know the industry situation plus a few more details behind the job description. You’ve learned a bit about each person on the interview team and the kind of answers they might want to hear.

Then you prepare a few engaging questions of your own. Ask those questions to create a conversational feel and launch a business discussion. Strong questions demonstrate your engagement and commitment. They also reduce the hiring company’s risk in making you an offer. You were a great fit on paper and now you're less of a risk because they can see your interest in their company and business objectives.

Are you feeling taller yet?

3. Performance: Sharing Relevant, High-Impact Stories

Now, to seal the deal, you need to bring to life your past work experience in the form of brief, high-impact stories that highlight your ability to get things done and prove that you can deliver against the key focus areas for this position.

You’ve chosen these stories carefully based on your knowledge of the company and their situation, and because they highlight aspects of your career that you enjoy.

By now you should feel even taller. Because standing tall as a confident and purposeful candidate gets you noticed allows the real you to shine in front of an interview team.

What do you do to stand tall in a job interview? Share your thoughts in a comment below.

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