On the twenty-sixth installment of The Link Up with Latesha, our incredible host Latesha Byrd, founder of Byrd Career Consulting, offers some helpful advice on how to reduce your anxiety when it comes to interviewing. She talks about the importance of practicing and preparing for an interview beforehand and breaks down the differences between both processes. Check out the show notes to read her piece on Money about how to crush your next virtual job interview!
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Check out Latesha’s Money article on how to ace your next virtual interview.
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Latesha: Hey, hey. Welcome to another episode of The Link Up with Latesha. It is Saturday. I hope that it is sunny where you are and you are enjoying this warm weather. Please get out and enjoy the sun. Get you some Vitamin D. We spend 99.9% of our times up in the house, so I am planning to get out this weekend and buy some new plants, and you know what? I’m going to figure out a way to actually make grocery shopping exciting, okay? I don’t know what that’s going to be yet, so if you have any ideas let me know, let me know. I want to have a moment of honesty, transparency, with you all. Yesterday I had a deep, ugly cry. Have y’all ever had just a really ugly cry that was necessary? I was feeling overwhelmed, and I made a to-do list–and I do that a lot. If I ever feel overwhelmed with everything in my head, ’cause sometimes a bunch of thoughts get all jumbled and conflicting in my brain and so I have to write it out in my journal or on my whiteboard, and I was overwhelmed because I had so much to do, and I said, “You know what? Make a list, girl. That’s what you always do.” So I made a list, and I was reading through my list, and then Closer came on my Pandora station, you know, the “Closer to my dreams,” that song, and y’all, I just started crying. [laughs] I just started crying because I was looking at the things that I had to do, and it was so impactfuzl and rewarding. The work that I do every day as a coach, as a career coach, as a business coach, you know, as someone that really speaks and focuses on career empowerment, the work that I do is so necessary and vital to so many people, and I just had to take a second to say, “You know what? I am so thankful that these are my worries,” you know? Reaching out to a coaching client, writing an article that’s due, you know? Pitching myself for, you know, a committee to give back to the community. Recording this podcast episode. Like, these were the types of things that I was worried about just getting done, and I just had a moment of relief, and I feel that I–it’s surreal to me, it is. I never thought that, you know, at this young age I would be where I am in life when growing up our worries was about money, you know, and paying the bills, and making, you know–I don’t know how much my mother made as a bus driver, but making that money stretch month to month, and I carried a lot of that emotional weight with me into my adulthood, and so I just had a realization yesterday that “You know what? You don’t have that worry anymore, and what you’re doing is important, and you need to keep going.” I remember the little girl that thought “Man, adulthood sucks,” you know? [laughs] And I love my mother. I’m thankful for how hard she worked to raise me, but I am just overwhelmed with gratitude, that I get to wake up and do the work that I love every single day. It is not something that I take for granted, ever, and, you know, I am inspired by all of you listening to this podcast and to the Living Corporate team for allowing me to be a voice here. So if you have not, during this quarantine, it’s a great time to get still and to think about the things that you are proud of, you know? We all I’m sure have things that we still want to achieve and milestones that we want to hit, but just know that your journey is your journey, and if things don’t make sense right now, I promise that you they will. The struggles, the failures, the heartaches, the nos, the decline emails with these job applications, just know that it is a part of your journey, your testimony, your story, and you’re going to change lives one day–if you have not already. You may already be changing lives and don’t even realize it. So thank you for letting me share that. Again, just this quarantine has allowed me to be more introspective and to really think about what is important to me, and this work that I do is extremely important and necessary. So with that being said–whoo, okay, y’all. I’m trying not to cry. [laughs] But what we’re talking about today is interviewing, but not just interviewing. Interviewing with a twist. For my job seekers out there, for my job hunters out there, whatever you may call yourself. I’m noticing that a lot of us get anxiety, especially when it comes to interviewing. Interviewing… I’ll be honest. It is painful, right? [laughs] I have had some terrible interviews in my day, no lie, but now I get to coach people all the time on how to have great and wonderful interviews. I want to be honest with you all though. I have seen some of the most talented, the most experienced people not get jobs, not because, you know, they don’t meet the qualifications, but because their anxiety takes over and they kill the interview, and I don’t mean kill in a good way, okay? So I want to give you all some advice on how to reduce your anxiety when it comes to interviewing. This is important because I know that this is something we all have struggled with before. Interviewing does get easier over time though. I guarantee you that. I want to promise you that. It will get easier over time. It’s one of those things that takes preparation, a whole lot of preparation, and practice. I read an article online the other day that said we should be spending four hours preparing for an interview. I know that seems like a lot, y’all, but you gotta think of it like this is your one shot and that’s it. There’s a show that I binge, and I really enjoy it actually, and it was a show on Netflix with T.I. and Cardi B and Chance. You know, that show where D. Smoke–D. Smoke is a really dope rapper, and he won this competition. It was a rap competition. It’s kind of like an American Idol, you know, but specifically for rappers, and so it was really funny watching the first couple of episodes. So if you’ve watched, like, American Idol, right, it’s very similar to that. So I was definitely the type of person to watch American Idol, but I would just watch, like, the first couple of episodes each season just to see the terrible auditions, like, the people that thought they could really sing and they would open their voice and it would–it just sounded awful. Y’all know what I’m talking about. [laughs] This show was dope though ’cause there were some really talented artists, but when it came to them auditioning, they would get into that audition and they would fumble. I’m talking about forgetting lyrics, being off-beat, you know? Some people just were bad, okay? [laughs] Some people were just bad, but I do think that a lot of them were super talented, but they did not perform well because the nerves got to them. So this is what happens when we interview. You can be the most talented. You can be the most ambitious, you know, but if your nerves take over, that could ruin the interview. I do want to give you all some hope here though, because you might be thinking, “Man, I ain’t even applying right now because nobody’s hiring. And she’s talking about an interview.” Listen, people reach out to me all of the time on Twitter, on Instagram, even my clients, telling me about interviews that they’ve landed. Companies are still hiring. I want you all to know that. Do not give up on your job search right now. Don’t give up. Companies are still hiring. Companies are still interviewing, and people are out here getting job offers. So if you are in the midst of your job hunt, please continue to keep going. You need to get to that interview, but you need to do two things: you have to practice… you have to practice, [and] you have to prepare. Two totally different things. So let’s talk about the difference before I get into some of these tips on reducing anxiety. Preparing for the interview is reading through the job description, seeing what skills they’re looking for, seeing what experience these companies are looking for, and making sure you have clear alignment between the work that you’ve done, the work that you’re currently doing, with what they are looking for you to do in that specific role. You have to make sure that you are speaking to your most relevant and transferable experience. So if you are applying to a job in, let’s say… hm, let’s say you’re applying to a job in consulting, and consulting is a lot of, you know, solutions, creating solutions, innovative solutions, being able to identify what your client’s problems are, creating these solutions and also delivering these solutions in a way that makes sense to them. So if you have done some type of consulting work in the past, you want to make sure that you have stories you can speak to that specifically relate to how you have helped to solve your client’s problem, okay? Does that make sense? You gotta have relevant examples. So, like, let’s say that you have an example that is about creating a new communications strategy. If that’s not related to that particular role that you are interviewing for, that might not be the best story to go with. So you want to have hero stories. Those hero stories are stories where you have actually came in and you saved the day. Like, there has to be a clear solution at the end of your story that draws back to you creating that specific, tangible, clear result. I have a membership club, Career Chasers Membership Club. I’ll link it in the show notes. I will be opening up membership for it soon. We’ve got a club of over 100 women where each month we have a different theme. This month’s theme is on interviewing, and we are talking about the power of, or the importance of, storytelling in an interviewing. I think everyone should really learn the essence of storytelling. It’ll make you a great communicator. You want to make sure you have captivating stories that your interviewers walk away with and they remember. You want to be remembered for the right things of course. All right, so storytelling. We’re also talking about the importance of executive presence. Someone that has executive presence is Michelle Obama. I loved her Becoming documentary on Netflix. So she is someone that has a lot of executive presence. I mean, when she walks in the room, you just stop and you look because she–you can feel her power, you can feel that just kind of oozing out of her, and so in this membership club, you know, a lot of the ladies were just telling me, like, “I really have a lot of anxiety before I walk into an interview, even if I know I’m a good fit for the job.” So I know that this is something that a lot of us deal with, so let’s go ahead and hop into these tips. #1: if a recruiter calls you for an interview, give yourself some time. Give yourself some time to prepare. You don’t have to drop everything that you’re doing and talk to that interviewer right then and there. You don’t have to drop what you’re doing or reschedule your whole life to talk to the interviewer the next day. My recommendation here is to give yourself 48 hours, 48 hours to prepare, okay? That will give you enough time, hopefully, to go through the job description, pick out your hero stories, research the company, research the interviewers, and, you know, think about the questions that you actually want to ask them. One of my coaching clients during our session a couple weeks ago told me a recruiter called him and said “Hey, I see that you applied for this role. You got a couple minutes to chat?” And he said he was thinking, you know, maybe it’d be–you know, “Sure,” she said. “A couple minutes? I’ll give her a couple minutes,” and he said it turned into a whole 45-minute conversation. It actually turned into an interview, and he said he didn’t want to be rude, you know, and he didn’t want to lose out on getting this opportunity because she had called him. I don’t want you all to put yourself in that type of situation, and so, you know, him and I just kind of talked through “Here’s what to do if this happens again.” #1: You tell them “Thank you so much for the opportunity. I’m extremely excited. I’m bogged down with work at the moment. You know, I have this really big project that I’m working on.” Gas yourself up a little bit when you’re talking to a recruiter and ask them, you know, “Is there another time that you and I can connect?” Schedule it in advance. If you can, try not to schedule it for the next day. 9 times out of 10 the interviewer doesn’t need to interview you right then and there, and if you’re a good candidate for the role, then you showing a commitment to your current job, despite the fact that you are looking for other opportunities, should make a good impression on the recruiter, and it also shows that you are valuable to your organization, because you can’t just drop what you’re doing and talk to him or her. The work you’re doing is too important. So don’t think you need to rush into interviewing with these recruiters, because I know how they can be sometimes. I used to be a recruiter, y’all. [laughs] I know how we can be, and I think it’s so important to make sure that you are protective of your schedule, especially as we are going through a pandemic. So again, tell ’em “Thank you. I’m working on a really big project at work right now. My team needs me. Can we set up another time to connect so I can dedicate myself fully to our conversation?” Don’t think that interviewing sooner or ASAP is going to make you a stronger candidate. What’s going to make you a stronger candidate is being prepared. So that’s my first tip. #2: Make sure you are reviewing Glassdoor. Glassdoor is life. Glassdoor has company reviews, they have reviews about interviews. If you are not familiar with Glassdoor, that basically is a site where people that have worked at these organizations, where they’ve interviewed with these companies, are basically going in and submitting their own personal experiences with the company. Whenever I interview coach a client, we always, always always research Glassdoor before an interview coaching session. That is going to give you some real life experience. And I’ve asked the ladies in my membership club, “Are you all using Glassdoor?” And they said, “Well, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t.” So make sure every single time you are using Glassdoor. If you have connections at these companies, you want to connect to them prior to your interview. And again, this is why you need 48 hours. If you can get a little bit more, you know, like, 72, do it. [laughs] You need to have conversations with people that work at the company and ask them for advice on interviewing. So make sure that you are finding some connections, getting some advice, and they can tell you, “Oh, okay. You’re interviewing–” Depending on how small the company is, right? If you’re interviewing with a large company like a Wells Fargo, a Facebook, Netflix, like, the person that you know or know of that works there, they may not know that specific person that you are interviewing with, but they can at least give you their feedback on their experience interviewing with the company. So make sure that you are taking time to reach out to people, okay? Oh, the show. The Netflix show is Rhythm + Flow. Rhythm + Flow, y’all. It just came to me. So the next tip here is that all interviews are virtual right now. With that being said, you have got to really understand the essence of virtually interviewing well, especially if you’re a charmer, you’re a people person. You know, when you get in front of someone in person, oh, you can win them over, but virtual interviewing is a whole different game. I actually wrote an article with Money Magazine on how to virtually interview well. I’ll drop that in the show notes as well for you guys, so check that out. And I think that virtual interviews are going to be a thing for a while, I really do. So with that being said, you have no reason to not have a cheat sheet. I know they said you’re not supposed to cheat, [laughs] like, in college and, you know, high school and all that, but hey, you can have a little, you know, something handy next to you when you’re interviewing. What I actually do is whenever I have a media interview, whenever I have a virtual speaking engagement, I have a whiteboard in my office that’s actually facing me, and I have an outline of the things that I want to speak to, you know? Just as a reminder. So whatever works for you, you know? Have a cheat sheet there with you. You don’t have to, you know, read it verbatim, but just little things to remember to speak to this skill set, this specific hero story. I want to make sure I speak on this job. So make it easier for you to interview well virtually. So then my next tip is if you get to a second round interview, third round interview, you want to always go back to the recruiter, the person that you interviewed with first, and you want to ask them for tips on the next round. If you’ve made it to the next round, that means that that person that interviewed you hopefully thought really highly of you and they want to see you do well in that process, so don’t be afraid to reach back out to them and ask them for advice. You want to make it as conversational as possible, so if you can, ask the interviewer questions. And don’t wait until the end to ask questions, ask them questions throughout the interview. For example, if the interviewer asks you why you’re interested in the company, share why of course and then ask them, “How has your experience been here working for this company? What do you like most about working here?” You know? Ask questions at the beginning. Have a little small talk at the beginning. If you can, try to find some common ground, you know? Talk about the weather, you know? Again, just figure out ways to let your personality shine through. It is a two-way street, so make sure you’re interviewing these companies just as much as they are interviewing you. Make sure that you are taking some time to breath during the interview. If you need to on your resume, cheat sheet or whatever you decide to use, remind yourself to take deep breaths throughout the interview. I actually was reading something online that said, you know, you can sigh, you know, if you need to really catch your breath. Just let out a sigh, and it won’t be as obvious as you taking a deep breath. So just remind yourself to breathe. Sometimes I’ll write little reminders on sticky notes and put them beside, you know, or hang them up on my monitor here as little reminders that I need to help me during the day. Other things to do is make sure you listen to things that make you feel good before the interview to really get your energy in the right place and in the right space. Listen to a good playlist to boost your confidence. You know, Beyonce, Meg thee Stallion, whatever [laughs] you listen to that makes you feel good, or find funny videos. TikTok is pretty entertaining. Find things to help you with taking the nerves off a little bit. So I wish you all the best of luck with interviewing. Like I said, keep applying, keep looking. These jobs are out here and they need what you have to offer. All right, y’all, and like I said, I’ll link some information on the membership club. Stay tuned for details about that, and y’all have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. Peace.