Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Successful Interview Begins With a Positive Attitude

Having a positive attitude is not always easy, especially if you've gotten into the habit of sending negative messages to yourself about your abilities, your appearance, or your past mistakes. Before I go any further, I need to clarify what I mean by "sending messages to yourself." Am I talking about emailing, Tweeting, or texting?

Actually what I'm referring to is much more subtle and less tangible than Internet technology. I'm talking about the ways in which you communicate with yourself, both mentally and verbally. The human psyche is a complicated thing, but I believe that self awareness is the first step to unlocking its mysteries and vast capabilities.

Successful Interview Tips

So getting back to to subject of being successful in job interviews...

You may be wondering what all this psychobabble has to do with being the successful candidate for a job you're applying for.

Well, here's how I see it: If you don't believe in yourself, it's going to be an uphill battle to try and get anyone else to believe in you.

As a matter of fact, it may be close to impossible!

If you're not willing and ready to be your own best friend on this journey we call life, then your ability to attract favorable conditions, goals, and people into it will be severely impaired.

The good news is that you can take charge of the way you perceive yourself, your potential, and your prospects in life. The bad news is that most people do not buy into that concept, and they believe that they have to accept whatever life doles out to them. To quote the lyrics of an old American standard by songwriters George and Ira Gershwin, "It Ain't Necessarily So!"

 If you're in the process of interviewing for jobs or if it's in your game plan for the near future, here are three suggestions for increasing your chances for success. This advice also applies to many other aspects of life.
  1. Make a habit of cultivating and reinforcing in your mind this thought (positive affirmation):    "I unconditionally believe in myself, regardless of what other people say, do, or think about me." You can follow that up by saying this to yourself, "I am the ultimate authority on my value, potential, and capabilities, and I choose to view myself with positive expectations and unwavering optimism." Caveat: If those positive affirmations do not resonate with you, then they won't provide you with much benefit. As a matter of fact, if it seems silly or pointless to try and control and direct your own thoughts, then you might as well stop, right now. Without an open mind and a willingness to suspend your skepticism about your ability to develop your limitless potential, then you'll undermine your own progress and your ability to create successful outcomes.
  2. A common interview question you've probably heard before is some variation of this: "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" While it seems simple, it can be one of the trickiest ones to answer, and for three reasons. First of all, you may never have really stopped and thought about your strengths and weaknesses. Fortunately, that's something you can correct immediately. Here's how: Create two columns on either a legal pad of paper or a word processing program, and start writing out what you perceive to be your strengths and weakness -- especially ones that would apply directly to the type of jobs you've been applying for, or that you'd like to apply to. IMPORTANT: Try to do this exercise from the standpoint of a supportive best friend, loving parent, or motivational coach. The point of this is to focus on what you can do well, now, and what areas need more attention, in terms of self improvement. (The operative word is "self" because nobody can make it happen except YOU!) A second reason why it may be difficult to list out your strengths and weaknesses is because you may have been taught from early childhood that you shouldn't brag, show off, or be self centered. While that may be good advice, in general, it's beneficial to tweak those rules, ever so slightly, when your sitting across the desk from a job interviewer. I'm not saying you should brag or do any of those other things that your parents (or other authority figures) admonished you for, BUT you should recognize your strengths, talents, and motivation to improve, and develop a healthy sense of pride for your intrinsic value, skills, and immense potential. As far as the third reason why it's difficult to answer the interview question about strengths and weaknesses is that many people are afraid -- myself included -- of saying the wrong thing and instantly sabotaging your chances of success. This is actually a realistic fear, BUT if you do some research on the best strategies for talking about your weaknesses in a job interview -- and, of course, give it some serious thought before stepping into that interview room -- then you'll have every reason to feel calm, composed, and confident -- which, by the way, is a fantastic affirmation. "I feel calm, composed, and confident." (It's just a coincidence that they all start with the letter "C"!)
  3.  Curb your negative self talk. When you become more self aware of the things you say to yourself, both consciously and unconsciously, then you'll be in a stronger position to curb the sometimes confidence-crushing things you may be saying to yourself. For example, try to replace these negative thoughts with either a positive or neutral mental statement. Shift the direction of your thoughts if you hear yourself saying or thinking any of the following disempowering thoughts: "I'll probably be nervous; I was in my last interview." "There's so much competition; I don't stand a chance!" "I'm not really qualified for this; I don't know why I'm even applying!" If you feel even a hint of these type of toxic thoughts entering your mind, STOP and try to replace them with their positive counterparts. I'm not suggesting that you deny that there's a lot of competition, but simply to make yourself more positive by concentrating on your strengths, your strong work ethic, the skills you have acquired, and your motivation to keep learning and improving. It all comes down to choosing to believe in yourself.
Positive Affirmations to Keep in Mind:
"I unconditionally believe in myself, regardless of what other people say, do, or think about me." 
"I am the ultimate authority on my value, my potential, and my capabilities, and I choose to view myself with positive expectation and optimism."
"I feel calm, composed, and confident." 
There's a lot more to a successful job interview than going into it with a positive attitude, but without it, you're "dead in the water" before you even start. A positive attitude is the solid foundation on which everything else is built.

Well, that's my first "installment" of how to have a successful job interview. I've personally gone on dozens and dozens of job interviews, and have made a lot of blunders and mistakes along the way. Many of the ideas and suggestions I'll pass along in this blog are based on personal experience, research, and the sometimes painful lessons I've learned from my job interview mistakes.

Stay tuned for more successful job interview strategies in future blog posts.

Best of luck in all your job hunting efforts and other pursuits!