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Take Hold of Interview Jitters

Kody standing at end of a long road

The common advice for job interviews goes something like this have eye contact with an firm hand shake, know the company along with the position, and highlight your experience but don’t exaggerate. I didn’t take this advice completely seriously. Why? I thought it wouldn’t work. Well, it does. I learned this the hard way. Maybe rejection is what it takes for some people to learn these rules. It took rejection for me to learn, and not just once.

My first rejection was with a grocery store. Not the most glamorous job, but it was going to be a start for me, or so I thought. I was that cocky, I thought the interview meant I sealed the deal, because I was so prepared. That list of common things to prepare for was my checklist.

What I didn’t have, was answers to the most bizarre questions they asked at that interview. One question that stuck with me was “If a customer asks you how to cook a lobster, how would you respond?” So I responded with “Well, I don’t eat sea food, so I would ask a co-worker or Google it if possible, but I know you boil them.” I thought my answer was brilliant, but it wasn’t.

At the end of that interview I left feeling stupid and rejected by their response. I was shocked, and instead of believing I was wrong, I blamed the interviewer. Not long after, a classmate of mine in high school got the job. I became filled with rage. I told myself I was better than him, and the store was wrong for hiring him. But that didn’t matter, because I forgot about something important.

That important obstacle was me. I wasn’t ready to believe it until my rage of rejection hit a wall. That wall took time to build and came during an important part of my life. It stopped me dead during college. I was taking computer information systems at Holland College. I had never programmed before, but I believed I was ready. Reality finally caught up with me, and I was forced to review my situation. I took two steps back and made a decision to retake two of my courses, which meant delaying my ambitions by a year.

The weight of that year took a heavy toll financially and mentally, but it made me realize I could no longer blame other people for my struggles. I had to learn that sometimes rejection holds a bit of truth, and that is hard to hear sometimes.

Now you know my story. Here is my advice: During a job interview, listen to the conversation, find the message, and apply yourself to your objective. We can learn a lot by engaging in the conversation and by listening. Absorb the information presented and analyze it. Look for a key on how to respond by adding input which can lead into your own story.

Finding the truth or message in the conversation is difficult, but can lead to great advantages. To learn this, you must accept your flaws and weaknesses. Use them to prove you’re a greater asset then someone far more suited for the position.

My weakness and flaw is lack of experience in my career choice, but I accepted this, and applied to many companies. During a recent interview, I was told that I had no experience in the field. I didn’t object, but responded with “I don’t have work experience, but I have knowledge and experiences from school and my internship.” Truth is an asset the business was looking for. My response led the interviewer to expand the conversation.

Growing beyond your failures is the most mentally tough object to get around, but if you can learn from it, then you’re ready. Accepting a bad interview or failure can be hard, but if you don’t blame other people, and if you learn from it, it will lead to success next time. It only took two years, but that interview at the grocery store taught me a few lessons. Know the business, but know how you fit the job even more. My mistake was I believed I was the perfect fit, but I didn’t know how my own experiences related to the qualifications they were looking for.

Answer the questions with truth and expand on your answer with experiences that relate somehow. Even if the experience doesn’t seem relevant to the job, it can still show your strengths. For example, during a job interview for a web developer position, I was asked to describe a difficult problem and how I handed it. I responded with an example from a school java project. We were told to build a grade application using an application with a framework we had never seen before, and my solution was to build a duplicate application with that same framework, so I could learn how it works with the java language. Even though it wasn’t completely relevant, it impressed the person and triggered a conversation.

The rules on how to become successful at interviews can be learned only by listening and accepting the input that is received. I have had many interviews, some as short as 15 minutes, but I have managed to score a seat on their job list with these skills, and I hope they’ll help someone else too.

I was able to secure a casual position through IT Shared Services. The job is in Information Technology, but it is not my job of first choice. The field I wish to work in is computer programming, building apps or websites. But with only a diploma, I need to build work experience in Information Technology before I can expand.