How NOT to Choke During an Interview

I walk into the interview room. All eyes are on me.  My heart is raising and my palms are sweaty.  A million things are running through my head: Remember to smile. Be polite. Sit upright.

I scarcely take my seat and the first personal question hits me. My mind goes completely blank: how am I going to answer it?  I’m racking my brain for the right answer. Is there ever a right answer? I’m running out of time. I have to give them an answer. I end up giving a cliché answer. Damn it! That’s not what I wanted to say at all.

Does this also happen to you no matter how much you prepared yourself for the interview? When they start asking you personal questions does your mind go blank?

We asked Francois Botha, the Chief Operating Officer of JobVine, a few questions. Here’s what he had to say:

1) What was your first interview like?

My first interview was pretty nerve-racking since I just finished my degree in Information Technology (which is quite a technical degree) and the job was an online business development role which focussed on all aspects of business as well as the technical side. Furthermore the interview took place over Skype which was not ideal. The end result was good however and that is where my interest for building online companies started.

2) What was your first-time job like?

I moved down from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town to pursue my first job in Online Business Development. The job entailed building online companies and also helping other companies optimise and improve their online presence. I had to quickly learn how to do everything from building websites, to doing online marketing, to managing a team and clients.

3) Do you have any advice you can give our prospective jobseekers about interviews and what to do to keep or be successful with your first-time job?

One of the most important aspects for me is that the prospective jobseeker should come prepared to the interview. Also as a jobseeker put yourself in the employers shoes and think of how you can be an asset to their company. Companies exist to make money, so highlight how your skills will contribute to them making more money. Also let your personality come through in the interview – friendly, confident, fun and enthusiastic people have a higher chance of getting hired than normal.

If you need help with not choking during interviews you can download this e-book: “How to answer Interview Questions: 50 Tough Questions that could kill your interview chances – Answered” by Peggy McKee.

McKee tackles all the possible questions that can send you in a frenzy.  Here’s one example of one such a question:

“Describe yourself to me in one word.”

This is a tough one. But there are ways to get around it. McKee advises: Don’t just think of one word.  Think of something that speaks to the job you’re applying for. What do the job require?

The following words are good describing words:

Successful, dynamic, responsible, motivated, dedicated, strategic, flexible, creative, dependable, reliable, helpful, fair, honest, focused, steady, organised, enthusiastic, valuable.

The last one is acceptable. Don’t sell yourself short. You can be of value to them. Tell them about it during your next interview.

Your turn, Share information about your first job here.

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