Image credit: Carla Aston
It’s easy to get good at creative thinking when you walk into an interview. Imagine this: you woke up with a rash on your forehead, you barely made it on time and the interviewer hasn’t smiled once since you met him. You’ve been in there for an hour and he keeps checking his phone. On top of that, when he isn’t looking at his phone, his eyes are fixated on your rash. It’s obvious that he hates you and doesn’t want to hire you. You forget your three clever questions you were going to ask at the end and your excitement dies halfway through. After the interview, you call your friends and tell them that it was a disaster, but the guy was so stuck-up that you didn’t want to work in such a rigid environment anyway. You still feel bad about it though and have doubts about even applying for another job.
Sound familiar? The reality is that most of us have a tendency towards thinking negatively. We get locked into thinking that there is only one possible explanation for our experience, the most negative one, and every other logical explanation is discarded. At SuperGrad, we help ambitious graduates to more effectively manage what’s going on in their head. We teach them how to challenge their negative thinking so that they can more effectively engage before, during and after interviews, ultimately helping them to secure their dream job.
Here is our list of the most common irrational thoughts going through your head in an interview, and some suggestions as to how you can challenge them:
1. “I haven’t got what it takes.” - Well actually you do have what it takes, that’s the reason they called you in! The only thing you have to do now is relax, be you and showcase your personality.
2. “This isn’t going well at all / they don’t like me.” - Sure, your interviewer has a stone-face, but that’s just their standard ‘interview face’. And I know that they keep looking at their phone, but they probably have a lot of things going on and are just multitasking. Assume the best, not the worst.
3. “They will try and catch me out (and stop me from getting the job)” – So you’re a fortuneteller now, perfect! Of course they will ask you questions to try and learn about you, and also challenge and push you, but the fact is that before you walk through the door they are actually hoping that they can hire you. Don’t give them reason to change their mind by acting like they are against you.
4. “They’re staring at that tiny rash on my forehead / stain on my shirt / old suit” – Of course it is possible they have noticed, but they likely don’t care that much, so why should you. Focus on all the good stuff you have to say rather than a tiny detail that is inconsequential to their hiring decision. After all, you can’t change the rash/stain/suit anyway; don’t compound the situation with your thinking.
5. “They have all the value.” - The truth is, you have as much value to them as they have to you. Think about it for a second – how can their company grow and succeed unless they hire and retain great candidates like you! An interview should be like a good first date; an enjoyable experience on both sides and two-way dialogue throughout, not just 3 clever questions at the end!
6. “I need this job, it’s perfect for me” – The interview is your first look inside a company and your first opportunity to ask questions and really understand what is being offered and what’s required. You can’t possibly know in advance of the interview whether it’s right for you, but believing it’s perfect for you before you even walk through the door will put you under a lot of unnecessary pressure.
7. “I don’t like the company (because I don’t like the interviewer)”. – Just because the person you meet doesn’t seem happy or excited doesn’t mean they don’t like you or that they are not very nice. It might just be their interview style and, even if you don’t get along great, it doesn’t mean that you won’t get on well with the rest of the team.
Hopefully the above has given you some ideas about how you can think differently around interviews. Ultimately, how you think will determine how you feel and, as our thinking often defaults to negative, this can be disastrous when in stressful situations like interviews. The key thing to watch out for is your thinking. Unlike people and events, your thinking is actually the one thing we can challenge and change. Remember to challenge your thinking when you are overcome by emotion. Your thinking is not something that happens to you, so take control, think rationally and you are sure to do great.