What You Can and Can’t Control in a Job Interview

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what you can and can't control in your career

You know this scene too well. You just saw a job you really really like. It is your ideal role in a dream organisation. If you get it, your whole life will change you’re sure. You work very hard to prepare for the interview. You research about the role and the company, you go through common interview questions and even have the perfect outfit ready for the interview. When the big day finally comes you are a cocktail of emotions; excited, nervous, happy, hopeful, confident, fearful and a dash of worry.

You walk into the interview room and flash your best smile to the panel of three, four or five interviewers. You answer every question to the best of your ability and you are sure the panel is thoroughly impressed, if you say so yourself. You go home and start dreaming of how your work days are going to be working in that beautiful office you just saw.

And then you wait for the positive feedback you’re sure will come soon.

Feedback comes alright. A terse, nonchalant email that creeps into your inbox in an odd hour. You look at the phrase ‘We regret to…’ long and wonder where you went wrong. You then replay the interview session over and over and spend the rest of the day and probably week walking around with a dark cloud over your head.  

The most important lesson about interviews is that so much is outside your circle of influence and control. Click To Tweet It is crucial to understand that even on your best day, you still might not get that job. Once you understand that, you should then focus your energies of perfecting your areas within your control and influence. You will also identify and acknowledge the areas outside your control, and learn not to take losses personally when they occur.

Control your destiny or someone else will. ~Jack Welch

Below are areas in job search that you can and can’t control

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1. You Cannot Control Trends in the Job Market

Trends in the job market inform HR actions like hiring, laying off staff or reshuffling roles within organisations. These trends could affect particular industries or cut across multiple industries. When they occur, ripples of their impact are felt across the job market and you will probably see it in the news or hear from your network.

What you can control:

While you cannot control trends in the job market, you can control how you react to them. If you are an active job seeker, do your skills make you a sought-after candidate for the affected industry or should you run the other way?

If a new role is quickly becoming popular in your industry, do you have the transferable skills that might be needed? If so, highlight them in your applications and interviews. Reach out to your networks in the industry you would like to join and ask for their advice. It helps to hear from people on the inside. If you know someone in the company you are sending applications to, the better.

2. You Cannot Control the Job Openings Available

Your skillset doesn’t automatically create a demand for your skills in the job market. Sometimes you will find jobs ads just at the right time as you search. Other times you keep refreshing job sites before seeing a good fit. You cannot wish a job into existence just because you need it.  

What you can control:

You can prepare yourself to be the best candidate when your ideal role is advertised. Devote sufficient time to your job search in order to make the progress you desire. The people you think have jobs landing on their laps are busy creating networks and updating their online profiles which helps improve their personal branding. That kind of effort really pays off.

A definite way of taking control of your applications and interviews is taking advantage of premium profile features that give your application prominence, tailor your CV and allow you to know the progress of your application.  

3. You Cannot Control Your Interviewer’s Attitude

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You might be ready and pumped for the interview only to find an interviewer who doesn’t mirror your enthusiasm and doesn’t even hide that fact. The way they talk to you, their body language and facial expressions show that they would rather be drinking hot lava than talk to you. It can be discouraging and demotivating because for you the interview might be life or death situation and you have so much hope pegged on it.

It might not be the interviewer’s fault. They could be sick or facing a personal problem that makes them outwardly seem offputting. They are human, after all.

What you can control:

You have absolutely no control over the interview panel you will face. Whether or not you will hit it off with them or the conversation will be strained filled with awkward gaps. You can, however, control your reaction to whatever you face. Always give the interviewers the benefit of doubt. You do not know what kind of day they are having. However, if you face a rude or condescending interviewer who is out to put you down or make you feel uncomfortable, you can decide to sit it through or respectively excuse yourself. Remember you will be treated best during an interview.

4. You Cannot Control Your Competition

take control of your career

You must have realised by now that sometimes there will be candidates who have better qualifications, experience or soft skills than you do. They are the ‘better-suited candidates’ who are really better than you and there is nothing you can do to change that at the time.

What You can control: 

While there might be better candidates, stressing about them will definitely be counterproductive for you. You need to focus on the interview and prepare as much as you can. Speaking about your past projects and achievements sometimes isn’t natural and you remember things you should have said on your way back home form the interview! You need to practice talking about your experience aloud till it becomes part of your personal profile statement. Practice until it’s perfect.

Take Control of Your Career Today

While you may not have control over a few things, you can be a master of what you can control. Be prepared, create and nurture helpful networks and use the tools at your disposal to get you the career of your dreams.

Take control and steer your own destiny today.

 

 

 

Doreen Mueke
Doreen is the Senior Content Marketer at Ringier One Africa Media.