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How to Land Your Dream Job with Confidence…Even If the Interview Process Terrifies You

You Deserve to Land Your “Dream Job”

Everyone wants to land their “dream job.”  If you’ve done so already, congratulations!  That is no small feat.

If you are like I was and are floundering a bit wishing things were different, but not quite sure how to make that happen, take heart.  You can succeed.  It will take some clarity, focus, and a little bit of old-fashioned persistence (i.e., stubbornness); but you can find–and land–your ideal job.

And why not?  You deserve it.  This is your life, after all.  You might as well live it according to the highest vision you have for yourself.

Last week, I shared why many of us fail to identify our ideal job.  This article, however,  is about helping you land the job you love by increasing your confidence by creating a story that will position you to obtain that job once you get the interview.

You know that True Spiritual Awakening is not about the specific tools you use as much as it is about the nurture and development of self-reliance.  It’s about trusting yourself and cultivating the confidence it takes to implement the tools to get the results you want.

You can find the tools and strategies to change your life anywhere, but my goal is to equip you with the power and remind you of the resourcefulness that already lies within you.

If you’re like me, I always had a general idea of things that made me happy.  Just after college, I joined a Toastmasters Club and learned that I was a communicator.  I love connecting with others through communication–public speaking, writing, etc.

I also enjoy sharing cool tips and tools that have been helpful to me.  I’m a storyteller, philosopher and poet (at heart).

So, you’re probably seeing my problem by now, though.  Where do you find that job?!?  And now you understand the conundrum of my professional life which came to a head over the last year.  Let me tell you about it.

A Golden Opportunity

About six months ago, I interviewed for an associate copywriter position at the company I was working for.  I felt confident in my knowledge of the brand, product line and target customer.

It was the perfect opportunity for the transition I hoped to make in my career.  It would allow me to refine the skills I had developed and build on my experience in customer experience and brand management.

The interviews for the position went well.  I spoke to four or five different writers and creative directors on the team I would be working with.  The company has a history of hiring from within and a high employee retention rate.  (Several of the people I work with have been there 20+ years). What was even better is that they had two positions to fill and I already worked for the company.

After two days of interviews, the waiting game began.  Everyone hates that part of the process.  “We have a few more interviews,” they say.  “We’ll be in touch.”

Again, I was at an advantage because I was on the inside.  My manager and immediate supervisor stopped by my desk on two different occasions.  “There are e-mails going back and forth behind the scenes.  Congratulations.  It looks really good,” they said.

I had planned a short vacation to visit my brother out of state.  Not hearing anything definitive before I left, I tried to just put it out of my mind and enjoy my vacation.

When I got back from vacation, I saw an e-mail from my HR contact in my inbox.  I held my breath and clicked to open it.

“…Unfortunately due to the high number and quality of candidates, we have decided to offer the position to a candidate who’s experience and expertise more closely aligns with the needs of the position.”

Is this a joke? I wondered. How can this be happening after I got so much positive feedback through the corporate grapevine and even from my bosses directly?

I couldn’t believe I had failed.  I’m not going to lie. It devastated me.

Disappointment Leads to an Open Door

As I struggled to find meaning in this disappointment, serendipity met me once more.  I was offered an opportunity to interview for a copywriter position with another company.  This position would give me even more creative freedom and responsibility.  Even better, I would have influence on the development of various brand initiatives.  Perfect!

I suddenly realized that the previous interviews that had turned into disappointment had set me up for the door that seemed to swing open before me.  The feedback I received from the initial set of interviews encouraged me and built my confidence in my writing skills.  I felt 100% prepared for this new step I was about to take.

How To Land Your Ideal Job…

This article isn’t about landing an interview, but rather what to do once you have the interview.  One of the best writers on career and passion-filled work that I know is Jen Gresham at Everyday Bright.  If you want her take on a novel way to score that interview, you should check out her post on how to let the job offers come to you.  I dare you!  She’s also got some fantastic Job-Hunting Hacks.

How do you go into the interview process with confidence?  Most people will say, “Preparation.” And that’s true, but I want to talk specifically about how to prepare in a way that will build your confidence and allow you to speak with passion that will be memorable to your future employer.

How do you do that?  Create and tell the story you want to tell.

How Does Telling Your Story Help You Through the Interview Process?

Many of us dread the interview process.   I know I have stayed longer than I should have in a poor work environment or job I didn’t enjoy because I was afraid.  We fear the interviewing.  Worse yet, we fear the failure. This isn’t necessary.

Once you have the interview appointment set, confidence during the interview process is all about the story you tell and how you tell it.

1. Clarity –
You don’t worry about the interview process as much when you know the story you want to tell and you have confidence that you can tell it effectively.

When you have the basic story arc outlined, it gives you a great, natural way to clearly highlight the things you want to bring out (without seeming scripted or forced) and explain potential negatives in a way that makes sense and minimizes their importance in the interview.

2. Conviction-
People love a story.  Your interviewer is no different.  They want to hear the story of your background and successes.

They want to know that you’re human, not perfect.  But most of all, your interviewer wants to know that you are smart and competent enough to make her right about her decision to hire you!

Just remember, you and the interviewer ultimately want the same thing–to find that it is not the right fit or to confirm that it is.  Your job is simply to make her decision clear.  You don’t have to be intimidated or fearful when you go into the interview.

3. Confidence
Your passion comes across naturally when you have your story clarified in your own mind.  The “gotcha” questions that may come up don’t seem so fearful.  The best part is that you can address these questions with poise and power in a way that will impress your interviewer and leave him thinking, wow…she really knows what she’s talking about and would be a great addition to the team.

Tips To Take the Fear Out

Here are a few tips that helped me become a more confident and effective interviewee.

1. Clarify the Story You Want to Tell.

Identify the core message you want to convey.  Why do you truly believe you’ll be a great fit for the job you’ve uncovered?  Think about the thing you’re most afraid of them asking.  How can you turn it into a positive and make it part of your story?

My biggest fear was that they would say, “why are you interviewing for a copywriter position when you haven’t been a copywriter before?”   So I found a way to talk about this from a position of strength and clarity and it helped to remove the fear.  Plus, I was more than prepared for these questions and could remove that objection right away.

Here was the story I identified: I am a copywriter.  I always have been.  I was always the guy that people in the office would ask to proof a document or write a letter.  I just didn’t know what it was called.  Now that I do, I’m excited to transition my career and use the skills I’ve gained to further refine my skills.

2. Expand Your Story

You can use this step to expand on the key value you bring as well as the primary outcomes that your skills will produce for the benefit of the organization you wish to join. (Remember to tell them WIIFM–What’s In It For Me)  Remember, it’s about focusing on value over tasks–almost anyone can be taught how to do a set of tasks.

In my case, I wanted a way to speak confidently about career transition. We all do it.  It’s relatively normal in today’s market.  Why not make it into a benefit?

My 20 years of experience in customer service and sales uniquely equips me with a powerful understanding of the importance of clear communication, customer experience and brand identity.  I now have greater clarity about my skills and the value I bring and I’m willing to bring the full power of that focus, energy and enthusiasm to your company.   –This is exactly the mental perspective and dialogue I took into each meeting

Do you see how powerful and assertive this position is?

3. Tell Your Story with Intention

Once you have identified the story you want to tell, and are able to articulate it in a few sentences, you must tell the story with conviction.

As I have said, there are lots of tools that can help you once you’re to this point.  Now is the time to implement specific strategies or tools which will help you with the specifics of telling the story and interviewing more effectively.  Don’t neglect the behind-the-scenes work, though.

Once you have a firm grasp of the story you want to tell, you can use any interview preparation aides you would like and incorporate your story into the guidelines and steps of the strategy you have chosen.

For me, I used a book of 100 mock interview questions.  I picked the ones I felt most uneasy about first and I practiced telling my story in a way to answer those questions.

TIP: Here’s a personal tip that worked for me.  Don’t focus on the “script” of what you want to say when answering a sticky question.  Focus on the substance.

What is the point you want to make? In my case: I’ve always been a powerful communicator. I am looking to transition my career right now to more closely align my natural abilities (communication) with my vocation (copywriting). 

No matter what they ask, learn to bring it back to your story.  Use transition phrases to help you redirect the conversation.

  • “That’s a great question.  Actually, I was able to expand my communication skills when I did work as a workshop facilitator for the Catholic Charities…”  (highlighting versatility and communication skills)
  • “I know it may seem disconnected, but my work at (reference a specific position or experience) really allowed me to (explain some value you created)

It’s kind of like picking the right tool for the job.  Once you clearly understand the job, you know whether you need a hammer or a screwdriver, pliers or a wrench.

When you know you have the right tool for the job, you have greater confidence in wielding that tool.  Your passion about the subject and your persistence will help you overcome the nerves and setbacks that can (and will) appear along the way.

You can do this!  And the benefits far out weigh the effort.

How My Interview Story Ends…or Begins

Guess what?  My failure wasn’t over after the first rejection by my employer.  The second company I interviewed with suddenly faced a hiring freeze and decided not to fill any positions.

I was out of luck again.  See what I mean about it taking a bit of persistence? The key is to keep going.

From both of these experiences, I gained greater confidence in my writing abilities.  I also gained clarity about how I really want to apply those skills in the world.

Incidentally, once I gained greater clarity, I gained greater momentum and I have begun to pick up freelance copywriting jobs.  I’m able to contribute in the way that fulfills me and brings real value to my customers’ projects and businesses as well.

It’s all just one big beginning…

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end ~ Seneca
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(Don’t forget to swing over and read the first part of this 2-part post on landing your ideal job)

About Steve

Hi, I'm Steve Rice and my goal is to transform simple philosophical truths into practical fuel to revolutionize your life. It's not about self-help, it's about self-reliance. I show you how. Connect with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter and let me know how I can help you.

  • Lori Gosselin

    Hi Steve,Man, you have stamina and determination.I can see that you gather all the learning from each experience and carry it onto the next one.
    This is a great resource for someone who is facing an interview process. I’m sure for you, the next one’s the charm.
    Isn’t it interesting how they keep on getting better? 😉
    Lori

    • Yes…it’s mostly a lesson for myself…but just decided to share. Hoping it will help others.

      I learned long ago (in the area of romance–after my first broken heart), that things do get better. What seems devastating today is set up for unthinkable happiness tomorrow.

      The same has proven true in this situation. The repeated disappointments, strengthened my confidence in my own writing skills…but also sharpened my focus.

      The disappointments have also given me a wonderful unexpected opportunity to work on me–which i have a love/hate relationship with. Finding that I was somewhat sabotaged by office politics after the first interview gave me the opportunity to choose a better response…which is quite in line with your post this week on letting go.

      When I chose not to be victimized (or feel victimized) by circumstances, new opportunities popped up. And today, I’m actually working on a freelance writing project for a client…which is way cooler than sitting in a cube doing the same work. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by…for your friendship and support.

      • Lori Gosselin

        Steve we seem to be on the same train of thought lately! What you drew from my post was something that I had written another post about just yesterday! After I read what you wrote I had to look up and see which post you were responding to !LOL
        Yes, I agree, we are set up by our failures if we know how to glean the good in them. I always tell my kids that if this thing doesn’t work out it’s because there is something better waiting for them.
        Were you as moved as I was by Melody’s post on Schrodinger’s Cat? Choosing the reality where what you want has already been orchestrated. Don’t we do that – in baby steps – all the time without knowing we do.
        Life!
        Hang in there on this job adventure. I’m sure the BEST one is waiting for you Steve!

        • Thanks for your kind encouragement. The cool thing is that all the seeming “setbacks” have really increased my confidence and I’m actually really enjoying doing the freelance projects as they come.

          Plus, I always tell myself that the obstacles (and overcoming them) give me credibility for the type of work that I want to do in the world. I could never do my work with insincerity and integrity and authenticity in my message is #1 for me, so that requires that I dig in to the not-so-fun parts and learn to move through them in a practical way. It’s not always pretty, but it’s beneficial. And what’s better…it’s real!

          • Lori Gosselin

            Steve what you say about the obstacles giving you credibility reminded me of a short Eckhart Tolle video I watched yesterday: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_G31YW1ecX0 and the part where he says his troubles have made him who he is.
            Happy Monday!
            Lori