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This Week in Leadership (Nov 29 - Dec 5)
Questions—and answers—about the Omicron variant's impact on organizations. Plus, critical year-end moves to boost your career.
You’re not auditioning for Annie.
But when it comes to interview preparation, most candidates put all their focus on scripting and rehearsing what they’re going to say. While you should know your “lines,” learning them is not the first thing you should do. You need to focus first on your “ACT”: being authentic, making a connection, and giving others a taste of who you are and what it’s like to work with you.
It’s Not an Interrogation, Either
Focusing on your ACT will also help you control your emotions, which are bound to be mixed and intense—it happens to everyone regardless of level. This was clearly happening with a man I saw recently at a Starbucks: his leg pumping up and down as he shuffled anxiously through his notecards. On top of his table I could clearly see his resume.
“Job interview, huh?” I asked as I approached him.
His eyes bulged from caffeine and desperation. “Yeah, and I really need this job.”
“Well, you’re not doing yourself any favors.” I pointed to his triple red eye (coffee with three shots of espresso). “Take some deep breaths and relax. If you go into the interview looking like this, you’re going to blow it.”
Now I had his attention. “This is not an interrogation,” I told him. “Your goal is to have a conversation with your interviewer—pure and simple.”
Conquering the interviewing mental game is crucial now that you’re finally at this phase of the 90-Day Career Diet. You’re ready—so stop psyching yourself out!
Your Stretch Assignment: The First Seven Seconds
During the first seven seconds or so, the interviewer will make crucial determinations about you, including your likability, your trustworthiness, how aggressive or passive you seem, and how well you would fit in with others on the team. Based on this initial determination (which is typically unconscious), your interviewer will decide (probably also unconsciously) whether to help you in the interview by rephrasing questions, giving helpful feedback, assuring you with verbal and nonverbal cues.
Your ACT can help you make the most of those seven seconds. Do some sleuthing on LinkedIn to see if you share a commonality with your interviewer—e.g., same college or a passion for a sport or pastime (don’t fake this or you’ll quickly trip yourself up). Scan for something interesting in the person’s office that you can talk about. Don’t be a snoop, but if you can see it in the open, it’s fair game. This small talk will help forge a connection as you relax and allow the interviewer get to know you.
Interview prep is crucial. You’ll never present your best self if you’re jittering with every response. So, skip the Annie audition, forget the interrogation, and enter into the conversation.
Step 5: Prep for the Interview
A version of this article appears on Forbes.com.