Did You Blow Your Last Job Interview: How to Turn It Around

Career Blog

Published: October 12, 2019 by Greta Snyder

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt like you belong on a “best of” job-interview fail compilation. Oh, guess what? You’re not alone; we all do. So, let’s be real, the self-doubt fallout is tough to navigate. But deep down you know that to get that dream job you have to keep growing and trying. Time to start adulting:  don’t think of it as rejection and another reason to feel intimidated, spin it as an opportunity for updating your interview prep strategy.

We’ve all felt that sinking feeling

Okay, so first seriously congrats on putting yourself out there; applying for jobs is like totally cringe-worthy. So how can you make it crush-worthy?

  • Turn rejection into reflection – learn from mistakes; do a post-interview analysis:  what went well, what threw you for a loop, and what would you change next time.
  • Focusing not just on surviving, but on thriving –  for students and those mid-career change, it’s tough to not get stuck in a position that pays the bills but doesn’t fulfill. Be open to change while you sustain.
  • Be opportunity-minded – find creative ways to elevate your current job or coursework to build marketable skills.
  • Part of change is pain – everything comes with a learning curve. Embrace the struggle as part of the momentum forward, and visualize each interview as a stepping stone. Nobody said it would be easy, but you’ve got the strength to endure.

Be your own best advocate

That’s right, it’s the season to fall in love with yourself as a professional and become your own biggest super-fan. Get better and better at articulating who you are, what you can offer and what you value. After the interview that doesn’t yield a job offer, you’re left with so many questions and it’s hard to know where to begin. Did your nerves get the best of you? One top way to manage interview anxiety is to be prepared. Even if the interviewer doesn’t ask you the dreaded sink-hole “tell me about yourself” question, one thing I’ve found super helpful is preparing this statement before an interview. An opening statement is a great way to focus and center your energy. Let’s get Jedi-master level on this:

  • Who you are – one sentence about who you are professionally and academically with a touch of personality or interests that relate to the job (e.g., “I’m a current SJSU MLIS student who will be graduating in May next year. I’m an avid reader of tech news and passionate about academic research,” or “I’m a manager at the public library and have been overseeing our marketing campaigns for the last 5 years. I love designing creative and budget-conscious solutions to complex marketing problems”).
  • Expertise highlights:  emphasize 2 reasons why your experience and values make you a good fit for the job skills listed (e.g., “my recent experience as a TA gave me invaluable insight into how I can best support student experience,” or “during my internship, I became very active in advocating for free legal resources available to all patrons as I care deeply about equity and access”).
  • Why you are here:  conclude with a brief explanation of why you’re there at that organization and why you want the specific position (e.g., “your library’s youth services programming is incredible. The opportunity to work with such a great team and to develop innovative services for teens that bring technology to the fore-front would be perfect for me,” or “your company’s focus on supporting independent artists is admirable. As a music-lover I’m drawn to this role where I could market creative content with an eye for sustainability for the artist and accessibility to the fan.”)

Keep your eyes on the prize

The main thing holding you back is fear. So, acknowledge it and the talk yourself out of it. You’re afraid because you don’t feel prepared and out of your element. You can define your element. Write down your introduction, practice and repeat it. Record a video of yourself delivering it, the more natural it becomes, the more genuine and engaged you’ll come across in the interview.

Also, identifying your big picture objective will help you manage the process. This Medium article provides a helpful looking on enjoying life and adjusting your mind-set to be more positive with struggle and change and shares an inspiring Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “the purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for a newer and richer experience.”

So, start applying, interviewing, and living your best life! And guess what? The unexpected benefit of interviewing is confidence; the more you put yourself out there, the more you’ll believe in yourself. Be proactive and passionate.

P.S. SJSU iSchool has amazing career resources

Get back in touch with why you sought out the MLIS or MARA degree. Write out your questions and start finding answers. SJSU iSchool offers so many great career resources. Here are a few I’ve found super helpful recently:

Final takeaways

Take a break from being hard on yourself and start exploring career resources, preparing for the interview before you have it, and keep taking steps forward. It’s okay to feel frustrated; applying for jobs is a lot of work. It’s like literally a job on it’s own. The pay-off though… am I right? Not just in monetary terms, I’m talking the satisfaction of rewarding work: feeling like you made a positive impact, putting your hard-earned skills to work, being challenged and learning something new every day. Put boring, unfulfilling jobs, toxic workplaces and mornings just chugging coffee to make it through the day behind you.

This post is part one of a two-part series on updating your interview strategy. This week focuses on one simple first step you can take to be more prepared, and next week we will discuss how to two more strategies to update your interview game:  personal values assessment and researching the organization and community. Email me with your questions and advice:  I’d love to feature you in the post. Follow me on Twitter for career advice and SJSU iSchool updates.

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