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Really bad at interviewing

(10 Posts)
EternalSunshine820 Wed 02-Dec-15 16:31:20

Bit of a long post perhaps, but seeking advice as to what you might do in my position, how I can fix this. I have a problem. I keep applying for relevant jobs (even dream jobs, some of them).. get offered an interview.. prepare just right (knowledge of the job/company, how I would answer questions, what I would ask them etc).. then I get to the interview (with plenty of time etc), walk in.. and give a truly awful interview. And the thing is I know what to do, but do the opposite if that makes sense. For example, I know to be concise and on point, answer the questions whereas in the interview I blather, don't answer the question that's asked.. it's hard to describe what actually happens, but I feel like an idiot. I lose the ability to communicate. I try to stop and collect myself but that doesn't work, there's just an awkward silence while they stare at me. And I can tell that the interviewers think I'm an absolute fool by the look on their faces. They are generally polite/humouring but do the basics then end the interview. There's not a chance in hell they are going to hire me, for that role or any other. I'm interviewing for quite senior (team manager) level positions. As the interview goes on, I feel like I'm about to burst into tears and that's what happens as I walk and drive away. I get the generic 'you have not been selected' email a few days later.

The bigger picture is that I'm waiting to go for an appointment with a counsellor in January to discuss possible anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar issues. I'm a lone parent without support, including any RL adults to really talk with about any of this. Going through this interview process, feeling like the biggest loser on the planet, being rejected over and over is just making me feel worse, and worse, and worse about myself. But I don't know what else to do. I can survive for a while longer on savings. I'm not entitled to any benefits anyway (job seekers is about to run out). The longer I'm out of work the less likely I am to be hired? I'm thinking about my future with desperation, envisaging being on the scrap heap career-wise already in my 30s (I'm 33) whereas until I had my DD (now 2) I was a vaguely successful professional. In fact I used to interview quite well.

If I could just walk out thinking that I gave a good interview, gave it my best shot, I think i'd feel happy with myself. Instead of feeling like I f*cked it all up for myself and can't even fathom why I end up self sabotaging. Is any of this making sense?

HeadDreamer Wed 02-Dec-15 16:38:56

Yes it's making a lot of sense to me. Interviews are so difficult and so stressful already. I have a tendency to go off in a tangent, and under sell myself. But luckily I'm in an industry that doesn't require great communication skills. So I can totally relate to how stressed it must be for you if you suffer from depression. And the more rejections you have, the more it knocked your confidence.

I can't give you any advice. Except that you are in a very difficult situation. And you aren't alone in feeling this.

MidnightVelvetthe4th Wed 02-Dec-15 16:39:11

Yes its making sense I'm exactly the same way & I know that crushing feeling when you get that email! I've had interviews before where I've talked so much bollocks I'm not even sure what I've said afterwards & I'm a perfectly rational intelligent woman. Someone asked me about teamwork once & I think I said something about wartime spirit ffs! If you were to ask me now what teamwork is I could give you an intelligent answer but if you ask me in an interview I have no guarantee what I'd say....

Is there any chance you are looking (in the nicest possible way) a bit too desperate? You know that you are trying so hard but in the room you are coming over as uptight & floofy at the same time. Try to relax, the interviewer is trying to see you as a person as well to see if you will fit in so drop the formality a bit & let yourself shine through rather than getting too wrapped up in giving the right answers. Let them see who you are smile

Think of it like a date, if you had a date with a man/woman who was so keen to be the person you wanted & you didn't get to see their real self would you be confident in seeing them again? Just relax a bit, laugh & show off about your experience & skills smile

MagpieCursedTea Wed 02-Dec-15 16:48:22

I understand!
I have similar MH issues and have struggled with interviews before. It sounds like you're preparing well but falling apart in the interview room.

Some of the things I've found helpful are making lots of notes and highlighting key words and phrasing. Then taking the notes with me and reading the highlights just before going in.
Having the notes to hand in the interview, I've never needed to but I have the plan (suggested by my very successful Father) of saying "I'll just refer to my notes..." If I ever get really stuck. As I've said I've not needed it but knowing they're there is a comfort.
Asking for/accepting the offered glass of water. Stopping and taking a sip of water is a great tactic when you need to gather your thoughts without just sitting in uncomfortable silence.
Summing up your answer at the end into a short sentence or two. This gives you a stopping place and sums up what you've said, so even if you bed rambled a bit, it gives you another shot at being concise.
Having questions to ask at the end. Prepare a few in case they get answered before you ask.
Make some small talk at the start of the interview, try to think of it as putting the interviewers at ease. I've been the interviewer before and trust me, there have been times I've been just as nervous as the people I'm interviewing. Keeping that in mind when I've been interviewed has helped me readdress the power balance in my mind.

Interviews are stressful, especially if you've had a few bad ones and the anxiety takes over. Remember you've got a lot to offer and that you'll be a valuable employee. Best of luck!

toffeeboffin Thu 03-Dec-15 00:26:24

You poor thing, interviews are bad at the best of times!

My tips would be similar to Midnights, try and see the interview as a date instead, or at least view it as informal and not that important. Try and be casual. I know it's hard when you are shitting bricks.

When you arrive, make small talk with the receptionist, just to relax. 'Oh, it's still raining, blah blah'. This will chill you out and calm your nerves.

Also, in the interview, act like the person you would like to be. So put on an act. Say the position is for a consultant in financial services and they need someone with great communication skills, pretend to be that person. I realise this may sound ridiculous but interviews are all about perception anyway, not actual skills. That's what your resume is for, skills and experience experience.

Good luck.

YeOldeTrout Sat 12-Dec-15 09:33:29

Eternal are your references good? Do you have a good history of working well with others for decently long periods, in previous jobs?

I just wondered if this performance anxiety failure wasn't only in interviews, but wider in your life.

Brokenbiscuit Sat 12-Dec-15 09:47:54

You poor thing! I do loads of interviewing, and feel so bad for candidates who go to pieces because of nerves.

I don't really know what to advise, but do remember that all of the interviewers will have been on the other side of the table at times, so they will have some sympathy! Remember too that they are not trying to catch you out - interviewing is time-consuming, and they really want to find a good employee as much as you want to find a good job. Do take in plenty of notes as someone else has said - it makes you look well prepared, and they're really helpful if your mind goes blank! And don't be afraid to acknowledge your nerves - it can be quite disarming when someone openly acknowledges that they're nervous and it shows that they really want the job. Don't labour the point though, like a woman I interviewed recently - she kept telling us in every answer that she was babbling due to nerves, and in the end, it started to detract from what she was saying!

Good luck!

Jcee Sat 12-Dec-15 10:10:49

I do a lot of interviewing and interviewers know its stressful and candidates are nervous and we make allowances for that and do things like warm up questions to give candidate a chance to get into the swing of things.

It sounds like you do a lot of prep, you could take notes in, I wouldn't mark someone down for having notes or having to look at them to give themselves a prompt to answer a question.

Similarly, as broken says, there's no harm up front saying you feel very nervous.

Im sure it must be disheartening but take comfort from the fact if you are getting interviews then you are clearly applying for the right jobs and have the skills and the next interview you go for might just be the one for you!

kathrunneth Wed 06-Jan-16 22:10:31

I think there have been some great ideas suggested already but there's just one more that I would add from my experience in coaching career returners - and that's to practise in an actual interview situation!

If you haven't been on an interview for a little while, or you haven't had a good interview recently, you can get into a bit of a cycle of not feeling comfortable, getting nervous, perhaps trying to hard, rushing at the answers, etc.

So I suggest that you just do more interviews, for jobs that you don't really want, so that you can practice giving your answers, practice how you would take a moment to catch your breath/think about your answer, practice asking your questions, etc in the full knowledge that it doesn't really matter - it's risk free. Hopefully some of the interviews will go well and you'll start to feel more comfortable in an interview situation, but even if you don't ace them you'll still come across as more relaxed (here is my interview outfit, this is my answer for that question - it becomes much more matter-of-fact because you've done it so much) and hence confident.

Also, you might be able to ask friends and family to do some mock interviews with you, just so you can practice your answers/questions and they can help you improve by giving you honest feedback. Sometimes finding a friend's friend - ideally someone who sometimes interviews people in their day job, someone who you don't know well - can be incredibly helpful because they can be asked for detailed feedback from an interviewer's perspective (but again it's low risk - you won't miss out on the "fake" job).

sadie9 Wed 06-Jan-16 23:50:10

Have you ever gone back to them for feedback after the interview? That might be really useful. Sometimes these things feel like we have done an awful interview but the simple fact might be that someone else got the job for a whole set of other reasons...nothing to do with you. You can say you haven't worked for a while due to being a parent so you are very interested in feedback about you might do differently at other interviews.
Accept that you will uncomfortable feelings in the interview. But that doesn't mean anything bad about you. Anyone who was like you, in that situation, would feel exactly the same.
It is also good to have some Examples of Situations rehearsed from previous jobs. Describing an actual scene with real people helps bring you back to the present moment. Think of these scenarios from past jobs and you can refer to them in the interview. So that can help stop you 'wandering'. Having said that everyone loses their train of thought more easily under pressure.
So think of real examples of:
(1) A time when I had to do something/a complex project under pressure, what did I do to get it done, what other people did I keep informed, what was the outcome (link the successful outcome to something you did). Keep it truthful.
(2) A time when you had to work with a difficult person, who had a different working style to you. What was the situation, how did you manage to get past it and get the work done. (link the successful outcome to something you did -you escalated the issue, you didn't get emotional, you focussed on the work issue, not the person, while maintaining respect for them and you).
(3) A time when you created or developed a new and improved way of working that contributed to a more successful outcome for the company (link it directly to your actions if possible) and how this new process was continued thereafter (even something very small).
(4) A time when you have to work as part of a team, what happened and how did you share the work (how you helped others in the team, how you guided more junior members of the team).
(5) A time when you had to work alone on a large project and found it difficult. What did you do to help yourself and get support (eg. brought suggestions and discussed it with my manager/wrote out each task and how long it would take etc.). This is a good one too for the old 'how do you cope with stress' type of thing.
I find if I have these examples carefully remembered and rehearsed I can apply them in all sorts of other ways to other questions. So if they ask me something I could say 'well I have an example of something like that'.
good luck with it. Maybe there is a Jobs resource centre near you where you could get other advice in job seeking/interviewing.

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