Gaining ConfidenceFriday, March 10, 2017
Interviews, cold calling, and networking, these things make everyone a little uncomfortable. To help you take control of your nerves and gain confidence, here are several tips to get you through the job hunting process. If the mention of these things already has you sweating, take a deep breath and let's get started.
Preparation and Practise
No matter what activity you're doing, preparation and practise are great tools for gaining confidence. The more you do an activity the more comfortable you'll become with it. If you go back and watch some of the first videos I did for Let's Get Working, you'll see that my posture and the way I speak indicate I'm a little nervous. Watching the more recent videos you'll see that I'm more relaxed and comfortable with what I'm saying and doing. This is because of preparation and practise.
For job seeking, preparation includes thinking about what you're going to say and what questions you're going to ask when you meet people, how you're going to answer interview questions, and how you're going to inquire about a job. You don't need to have an exact script or follow it to the letter. Just having something prepared that you can expand upon will reduce the amount of silence that follows a question. It's this silence that makes you feel awkward and nervous, reducing it will help take some of the pressure off.
Practise makes perfect. You'll get better with each employer you contact, but before you start contacting them practise at home. Talk in front of a mirror, or better yet, pretend a friend or family member is the hiring manager or interviewer. The more comfortable you become with talking to other people about these topics and asking questions, the easier and more natural it will feel. Just remember, if you're polite and respectful, most people will show you the same courtesy.
Feeling nervous when doing these activates is normal. I find embracing my nerves and getting to the root problem helps me settle my nerves, instead of trying to hide from them. Is it the waiting before an interview that gets to you? The not knowing what's going to happen when you call an employer? The fear of saying or doing the wrong thing? Or, do you feel self-conscious, like everyone is watching you? We can make these situations worse by over analysing them. When you obsess about things, you begin to second guess yourself and this ends with you being too critical of your actions.
In addition to over analysing, avoid making assumptions or trying to be a mind reader. When we assume what others are thinking or what they want us to do, we base this off the way we think or would want things done. Don't get yourself worked up over things you think are happening, but in reality aren't. It's better to ask questions, than sit there wondering what's going on.
To help reduce the amount you obsess over things, focus on the positive not the negative. It's okay to have weaknesses and to recognise the negative aspects of a situation, but don't focus on these things. Focusing on the bad in a given situation can lead you to obsess over these things that may have been outside your control.
When looking on the positive side of things, think about what you're good at, about examples of times you've done well, successful projects you've contributed to, and what potential opportunities or gains will come from this situation. If you do make a mistake, it's not the end of the world. You'll learn from the situation and do better next time, as I have with these videos.
Not all of these videos have gone to plan, there are mistakes some times. Each time something hasn't gone right though, I've reflected on the situation. What was I expecting, what actually happened, why did it happen that way, and what can I do next time to fix this?
You can appear confident, without being confident on the inside. By faking it and projecting confidence you can begin to feel confident. When you project confidence you don't appear agitated and those around you are put at ease. When those around you are at ease it help put you at ease.
To project confidence start with your posture as this is the first thing people notice. A lack of confidence can show itself in many ways. We tense our shoulders, create a barrier by crossing our arms across our chest, we constantly fidget with our hands or feet, or we look down and avoid eye contact. It also shows in the way we interact with people. When we're not sure of ourselves and what we are saying we tend to speak in a quieter voice, pause between sentences, or mumble our words. Try to be mindful of these things, as you can start doing them without noticing.
The way you dress also helps you to project confidence. When you look good, you feel good. Business clothes make me feel more confident than my casual weekend clothes, and I feel give me more authority, people take you more seriously. You don't need to wear a suit and tie, just something that looks professional.
Everyone's a little nervous at job interviews. Talking your nerves through with people is a great way to help you deal with them. Friends and family can help provide some re-assurance or put things into perspective for you. An interviewer, the HR Manager on the phone, or someone you're networking with aren't the right people to talk through your nerves with. Avoid drawing attention to your nerves by pointing them out or apologising for them. For one the other person may not have noticed, and two it can shift the tone of the conversation into awkward territory. Don't draw any more attention than is need to your actions when you're nervous.
If you're finding that nothing seems to help you, just remember, these things are only a short part of your day and afterwards you can go home and relax.