In a job interview, employers are evaluating your most important character traits that will impact how you will perform on the job. You will be answering some crucial questions that they have about you – even before you sit down.
Employers are unlikely to come right out and ask you if you are confident, if you are sociable, or if you can be professional. However, you are telling them all of those things through your body language, conversation style, and demeanour.
One of the most important questions that you will answer without being asked is, “how well can you handle stressful situations?”
Whether it’s dealing with customers, meeting deadlines, or handling unexpected setbacks, just about every job will involve its share of challenging moments. That is why companies are always on the lookout for employees who can perform well under pressure.
Of course, were they to ask candidates how they deal with stress, savvy job seekers would likely have a prepared response such as, “I’m solid as a rock, and pressure just turns me into a diamond. That’s where I shine.”
But they don’t have to ask. Job interviews are stressful situations. Candidates are under pressure to impress strangers and talk about themselves in often unnatural and uncomfortable ways. There’s also a lot riding on them. Whether or not you succeed in the interview can impact your income, your lifestyle, and your career progression for the foreseeable future.
This is why employers will be watching for how you comport yourself even before the interview starts. They are watching how friendly you are during the introductions, your conversation style and small talk.
Interviewers are looking for candidates who can perform in stressful situations and solve problems on the fly. This is why they will often ask challenging or difficult questions. It isn’t the answer that is important so much as how you demonstrate that you can deal with the unexpected while you are under pressure.
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Knowing this should take some of the pressure off. There often is no right or wrong answer, but there is a right or wrong way to respond. Pause for a moment, take a breath, think about the question, and formulate your answer. Trying to fill in any second of silence by blurting out a response without planning what you are going to say is how people end up stammering and tripping over their own words.
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Whether it’s over the phone, in person, or via a video chat, potential employers will be watching for how you handle the stress of the job interview itself. Remember that they are speaking with you because they need your abilities and contributions as much as you need the job. Project as much confidence as you can, without being cocky. Have a friendly conversation, and ask engaging questions.
How you perform in a job interview can be a key indicator of how you will perform on the job.
Here is how you can get started. The most important sentence in any job interview is often the very first thing you say.