Many people are uncomfortable talking about themselves, but you can prepare yourself by crafting some responses and practicing the speech until it feels natural. If someone asks about a criminal record or financial problems, it is important to be very judicious in answering.
Method 1 of 3: Practicing the Speech
Step 1. Think of the most common questions
To avoid getting stuck when speaking, you can train the answers to the most common questions, such as:
- "Talk about you". That's probably the most asked question in job interviews.
- "Why do you want this job?"
- "How do you see yourself in five years?"
- “What are you most proud of in life?”.
Step 2. Review the job description
Interviewers don't ask personal questions out of curiosity, they want to know how you can help the company. It is important to carefully review the job description to see what skills and experience are required.
If the company requires management experience, for example, be sure to mention your own experience when the recruiter says “Tell me about yourself”
Step 3. Get into the spirit
Self-promoting during an interview isn't always the easiest of tasks. Women, especially, fear that people will consider this self-promotion a sign of arrogance. What you should keep in mind, however, is that you are highlighting your achievements, not yourself.
- Focus on the contributions you've made to the company or team to show that you don't consider yourself the center of attention. You are just promoting your professional value.
- In order not to sound arrogant, you should not say, for example, “I am the best representative in the company”. Instead, you can say "My customer complaint rate was the lowest and I helped reduce the overall complaint rate by 30% when I was promoted to manager."
Step 4. Simulate responses
You must honestly answer all questions, but the answers must also be work-related. Identify your top five qualities to stand out during the interview, such as being a multi-tasking person or knowing how to communicate well.
- Respond by placing your qualifications in context. When simulating the answer to “How do you see yourself in five years?”, you can say “I want to develop my competencies by managing a larger team. At the moment I only supervise two employees”.
- For the question “What are you most proud of in life?” you can emphasize your dedication by saying something like “I kept my first job even when my supervisor quit during a turbulent time. Even so, I managed to increase sales by 20%”.
Step 5. Don't give answers that might exclude you as a candidate
Some comments may make the interviewer question whether you are the right person for the job. Avoid:
- Say anything that sounds like you're leaving your job. For example, don't say you moved to the area just because your spouse got a new job. This may sound like you're going to quit as soon as your husband or wife gets a new job elsewhere.
- Demonstrate a lack of interest in career advancement. Never say "I can do what you want". What the interviewer wants to see is a person who is enthusiastic and willing to achieve their goals.
- Admit lack of experience. Talk about your qualifications, even if the experience was gained through volunteer work.
- Repeat every word that is already on your resume.
Step 6. Structure your answers
If the interviewer asks, “Tell me about yourself,” there is no need to talk about your life story. Structure your answers as follows:
- Present: “I currently work as an administrative assistant at a university, where I organize the schedule of twelve professors in my department”. Remember to mention some skill – multitasking, for example.
- Past: "Before my current job, I worked in various administrative positions in the private sector, including a bank and two hospitals, which led me to the financial sector." Also remember to mention skills or experience relevant to the job you are applying for.
- Future: "I would love to work on something that combines my academic background with financial management, so I am so excited about the position you are offering."
Step 7. Think of unusual answers
If you are comfortable talking to people you don't know, you can think of more atypical responses. Some suggestions for the traditional “Talk about yourself”:
- “I define myself in three words: dedicated, considerate and tireless”. You may be asked by the interviewer to give you examples of past situations that highlighted these characteristics.
- “I'd rather show than talk”. If you are a creative person, you can draw a picture. If you are a person who knows a lot of people, you can show your contact list on your cell phone.
- “People say I'm too…”. This type of response shows that you are aware of how others see you.
Step 8. Simulate an interview
Ask a friend to interview you. This is a way to train the responses until they feel completely natural. Remember that the conversation should feel spontaneous, not rehearsed.
- Your friend may ask questions you hadn't even thought of, and that's a good thing. Reflect on these questions to develop good answers.
- Take advantage of mock interviews offered by the school or college.
Method 2 of 3: Discussing Personal Issues
Step 1. Identify the warning signs
By reviewing your resume and researching about you, the interviewer will look for potential issues. These warning signs don't necessarily mean you won't get the job, but you need to address the issues. See if any of these cases apply to you:
- Criminal history;
- Financial problems such as company failure;
- Plagiarism at school or university;
- Weak academic performance;
- Extended time gap between jobs.
Step 2. Explain the criminal procedure
Having some sort of criminal conviction can hinder your attempt to get a job. Still, it is important to clarify the matter. Many companies ask for information about criminal history, and you need to be honest in providing the data.
- Try to postpone the subject until the middle of the interview. Interviewers often remember what was said at the beginning and at the end.
- Take on the problem, but explain what you learned from the mistake. “Driving drunk was a big mistake, but it was the warning I needed. I started participating in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and now I'm looking to focus more on the future, so I went to college.”
- Try to encompass your current plans with future ones. Talk about your academic goals and your work experience.
Step 3. Talk about your financial difficulties
At some point during the interview, the interviewer may look at your financial history and find something related to bankruptcy or low credit scores. Explain the context of the situation.
- A family member may have needed expensive medical care and you filed for bankruptcy to cover the debts.
- You can also explain that someone in the family was unemployed for a long time and you had to use your credit card.
- The worst thing is to assume you spend money irresponsibly. If this is the reason for your financial problems, explain what steps you are taking to correct the problem. "I lost control of my finances, but I have been working on the issue for the past three years with professional advice."
Step 4. Talk about academic difficulties
If you have had trouble graduating, failed a course, received punishment for plagiarism or other academic transgression, be prepared to discuss what you learned from the experience at the time of the interview.
- To explain the low grades, you might say, “I had a lot of trouble in my freshman year of college, and I attribute part of it to not being mature enough to live away from home at just 18 years old. After I asked for a transfer and started studying closer to home, my grades improved”.
- If the problem was plagiarism, say “There are no excuses for this, but I've learned that nothing replaces effort. The following year I joined the student council”.
Step 5. Discuss the amount of time you were without a job
Approach the situation from a positive perspective. Don't expect this question to be ignored by the interviewer, but you can address the issue in other ways:
- Talk about new acquired skills. If you have done freelance or volunteer work in other areas, you can say, “I volunteered at a women's shelter last year while looking for work. It was a great choice, I now know how to listen to people better”.
- Talk about how that time without a job helped bring more clarity to your life. “I spent six months traveling in India and this experience broadened my horizons. I realized that my passion for the law is greater than I imagined, that's why I went back to the legal area”.
- Be honest if you were fired. Be sure to mention why. The company may have experienced a reduction in its workforce, for example.
Method 3 of 3: Demonstrating Confidence
Step 1. Maintain good posture
At least half of communication is done non-verbally. Sit up straight during the interview to demonstrate confidence. Do not cross your arms or bend your body.
- By leaning back, you send the message that you don't like the interviewer or that you are not interested in the interview.
- Bending forward can look like a threat, which is also a problem.
Step 2. Place one hand over the other and place them on the table
Other gestures can be seen as aggression, such as pointing fingers. Putting your hands in your pocket might seem too casual. If you are seated facing the interviewer, place one hand on top of the other and place them in your lap.
Step 3. Calm down
Some interviewers are less concerned with your answers and more attentive to the way you carry yourself. They see if you show confidence and enthusiasm when speaking. Try to calm down before going to the interview.
- Breathe deeply. Place your hands on your stomach to breathe with your diaphragm. This technique helps to calm down.
- He used to smile. Smiling releases endorphins in the brain, as well as making a person appear more confident.
- Accept your fears. The more you struggle with anxiety, the more nervous you become. Simply accept this condition and let the anxiety go away naturally.
Step 4. Respond quickly
You will appear insecure if you pause in answering or spend too much time thinking before answering. Based on your experience and preparation, you should feel free to respond promptly.
Step 5. Know when to stop promoting yourself
It's important to be confident, but you don't want to look arrogant. Notice how the interviewer reacts to your answers. If he looks away or shows impatience, the best thing to do is stop talking.
Remember to focus on your strengths and experience. There is no need to list everything you know
Step 6. Avoid getting defensive
When you express to the interviewer that your goal in five years' time is to become a manager, they may say that this is not a realistic goal. It's easy in this type of situation to get defensive, and recruiters are often condescending when interviewing younger people. Some suggestions on how to proceed:
- Ask the interviewer to explain further. You can say “Is that so? Do you think it can take 10 years to become a manager?”.
- Be open to learning new things. The recruiter may have very useful advice for you. Be open to receive them.