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Jordan Burroughs
Jordan Burroughs

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6 Tips That Will Fix Your Interview Anxiety

Interviewer: "What are your strengths?"

Me: "...I'm hard-working I guess?"

Ever since I first started interviewing for part-time jobs, I dreaded the behavioral interview.

But years since then, I have grown to usually enjoy the interview. The enjoyment comes from experience and by implementing a few simple techniques to help guide you through the process.

My goal is to explain the methods that helped me grow more comfortable in interviews (as well as land a few jobs 😏). After all, the more comfortable and confident you are in the interviews, the more likely you will clearly articulate your points and come off as the perfect person for the job.

First I will explain the impact of the behavioral interview, then I will describe six ways to level up your interview skills.

Impact of the Behavioral Interview

If you have not already jumped straight to the tips below, I think it is best to explain just how important the behavioral interview is.

I value the behavioral interview higher than the technical. Granted I am not the greatest in technical interviews, but behavioral skills will have the greatest impact on the team and company you are joining.

At some point the value of technical skills fade because it is usually comes down to "either know something, or you don't". Once you do, however, you can adapt to new patterns and practices easily.

For example, in my current role everyone knows Java to some extent. I may not be as advanced as one of my teammates, but it won't be too hard to catch up given that I have a firm grasp on the fundamentals. It mainly comes down to how good I am at learning something, which is a behavioral skill.

Technical skills are necessary to excel in any profession, but behavioral skills are the foundation of who you are as a professional.

Now that you see the importance of the behavioral interview, let's jump into the tips. 😁

⒈ Relax, View it as a Conversation

Will Ferrell Relax GIF
Early on I thought of the interview as a test the interviewer puts upon me. It is actually a test for both you and the interviewer.

They are "testing" you to see if you fit the role and you are "testing" them to see if you want to work for them!

Although, in reality it is just a conversation. This changed my perception about interviews. Have you ever watched a celebrity interview where there is no connection between the celebrity and the host? It comes across as inauthentic and even painful to watch at times.

When you notice that there is a connection between the host and celebrity everyone is having a great time! The host is thrilled and going off-script, the celebrity guest is relieved that "this isn't the usual interview, and the audience is loving the authenticity and personality of the guest.

Wouldn't you rather have a job interview like the second scenario?

Removing the idea that this is supposed to be testing you immediately eases the pressure you face in the interview.

⒉ Smile 😁

Smile GIF
Seriously, smile 😀. It is amazing that doing something this simple provides such a great benefit. You will come off as more excited, cheerful, and personable. Who wouldn't want that in a worker?

Why do we love dogs and babies so much? Because of that irresistible smile that infects us even when we may be in the worst mood.

One of my favorite books "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie covers just how important putting on a happy face is. Check it out, it's a classic 🔥

What if my interviewer is all business, and doesn't even hint at a smile?

Don't get intimidated! Smiling eases tension and eventually they will give in. I have had countless cold-mannered people crack by just staying positive and continuing to smile. Deep down we all want to.

Smiling makes us all feel good and will even put you in a wonderful mood. Even when you are talking on the phone, smile. Trust me, it is easy and can make all the difference.

⒊ Have Points-of-Conversation Prepared

Checklist
Early on, one of the biggest issues that made interviews hard for me was not having much practical experience to talk about. That is why you should have points-of-conversation prepared ahead of time. These should be 3-4 projects or instances that demonstrate different skills you have applied to achieve certain results.

For example, using Java and Spring Boot to develop a user service on a small team or the process of initializing, planning, and executing a presentation to incorporate a new technology in an existing application. Find points to discuss from your résumé; instances that you can discuss in fairly strong detail and comfortably answer questions about.

In behavioral interviews, questions are usually the same (minus the weird outliers about the company itself or "how many windows are there in NYC"). Typical questions will revolve around your strengths, weaknesses, problem solving skills, and communication/team skills. When looking at the list of points you can discuss, you will be able to extract these skills from them.

⒋ Use SAR

SAR acronym
Once you have your points-of-conversation, you will quickly find out that you need a way to organize and articulate your thoughts. We all know the feeling where we are excited to know all the information, but it comes out as a jumbled mess (like the first drafts of my blogs) because we did not take our time and organize our thoughts.

That is why it is crucial to use a procedure like SAR to formulate a good response. SAR stands for:

  • Situation - outline the situation by providing general background information to help set the scene. This includes the project name, what kind of group you were in, what you were assigned to do, etc.
  • Action - explain the actions you took. This should be an easy to follow, step-by-step process that begins to address the question the interviewer asked.
  • Result - describe the result. Tie everything together and clearly answer the posed question.

Note: SAR is sometimes called STAR where the "T" means "Task" (which extends "S" is SAR)

SAR is analogous to writing - introduction, body, and conclusion.

One book I highly recommend is "Cracking the Coding Interview" by Gayle Laakmann McDowell. (I talk more about it here. In the "Behavioral Questions" chapter, Gayle goes more in depth about how to approach the interview and explains SAR with with great examples.

⒌ Focus on Yourself and Highlight Successes

Person Celebrating
This is a pretty quick one. Interviewers are not there to hear what specific thing your partner did on the project. You are the one being interviewed, not your past teammates!

Also, the interviewer wants tangible, quantitative evidence of success. It is easy for anyone to say that they updated an existing REST API, but it will put them over the top if they add that "efficiency increased by 30% and load in the database decreased by 15%".

Lastly, if you received some kind of recognition, awards, or certifications, let them know! You are selling yourself. They want to hear that stuff and will put you over the edge 😎.

⒍ Ask Good, Open-Ended Questions

Question marks
I wanted to end with this tip because it is how every interview finishes: the Q&A section. After all that stress they put on you, the tables have turned - you are interviewing them 😈.

Take advantage of this part! The interview is not over. You should expect 5-15 minutes for your questions to be answered and try to use as much of that time as possible.

This part is crucial because you can now steer the conversation in whatever direction you want and leave a lasting impression with the interviewer. You can Google for an endless number of great questions to ask, but just make sure they are open-ended and can lead to follow-up questions. Thus adding to the conversation and increasing the rapport between you and the interviewer.

Final thoughts about the Q&A:

  • If you know who your interviewer is ahead of time, ask questions related to their role or personal career.
  • Instead of asking "Is something...?", ask "How is something...?" to make it open-ended.
  • Know basic facts about the company you are interviewing for. Don't ask something that can be answered by Google.
  • Keep a long list of questions to ask ahead of time. You can also add to that list during the interview.
  • Have fun and take advantage of the opportunity.

Conclusion

Take the tips explained above and try them in your interviews. If you have a tip, leave it as a comment below.

Also, don't totally disregard the technical side! It is easy be focused on either just the behavioral or just the technical side, and not both! Make sure to give yourself enough time prior to interview day to properly prepare for both portions.

Maybe, once I get better at technical interviews, I will blog some tips for those... 🤔. Until then, see ya.


Thanks for reading! If you want more tech tips, software stuff, and bussin' blogs, you can throw me a follow on Twitter🔥🤘🏽🐶

Discussion (3)

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ruannawrites profile image
Ruanna

These are great tips and fully agree! Once you shift the mentality to be a two-way street (you are also very much interviewing them), it's a game-changer!

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irandeeprana profile image
Randeep Rana

Awesome Post Jordan, Thanks for sharing 😄👍

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jburroughs profile image
Jordan Burroughs Author

Appreciate it. Thanks!