Confidence tips for interviews

Interviewing is a scary business, we can build ourselves up into a frenzy of emotions and panic. It’s as if our whole future and life is dependent on a 45 minute chat. Sometimes it really really feels that way. So what can we do to allay our fears, calm our nerves and help us get through it?

Preparation is key when dealing with interview nerves. Knowing about the company, about the job and even about the interviewers can instil a confidence in you. Often we panic when faced with the unknown so the more that we do know then that can make things easier. Prepare as well about yourself and what you’ve achieved. For me I find it useful to list what I am proud of, my work achievements and to also look at the job that I am going for and see how they connect. If you can effortlessly weave them into a conversation then you are winning.

Also prepare your journey, know where you are supposed to be and leave yourself more than enough time to get there. Pre iPhones I went for an interview and walked 2 miles in the wrong direction, built myself up into a panic and was 45 minutes late, not good and understandably I didn’t get the job.

Make sure you have everything before you go, address, phone, wallet, tube pass. One candidate last year for me was 45 minutes late and their excuse was “I forgot my tube pass” when I asked why she didn’t just buy a ticket, she replied “I forgot my purse too”. These things happen but make sure they don’t happen when you are heading to an interview.

If it’s easier for you to refer to notes in an interview take a small pad with jotted headlines on it for you to refer to. Ask the interviewer if they are ok with this when you are introduced to them.

Know how you respond to nerves. I talk incessantly and laugh nervously (not always a good look), but by knowing how you react you can try and change accordingly.

Ask for water if you feel that your mouth is getting dried up, that’s perfectly acceptable. Don’t feel like it’s a race, that 5 second pause might feel like an hour to you but really to the interviewers it feels like no time at all. So many people just feel the pressure to talk that they just ramble and babble to feel in silence, you don’t need to do this.

If you don’t understand the question then ask, it’s fine to say “do you mean this?” Now if they have said the question ten times and you are still struggling then maybe there is an issue there.

Always remember this is a conversation for both of you. It’s about finding out whether both parties (and yes that includes you) are suitable to work together. Try and banish thoughts of exams and tests and failure out of your head and imagine this is a professional chat between colleagues. So often people are amazingly confident and professional in their day to day jobs but panic in an interview, try to see the two as not being so different and hopefully that will help.

Smile and be open and friendly , the simple act of a smile can change your posture and naturally calm you down.

You might get the old good cop/ bad cop routine in an interview, go with this and try not to take it personally. No one is screaming out I hate you, what they are doing is trying to see how you react to pressure. Something you’ve done well a million times in your career so go with it.. Don’t be defensive, take your time, clarify and be professional.

I find practice makes perfect with interviews, so get yourself to many, practice with friends and colleagues, and you know what it becomes routine and you find that the thing you were most panicked about actually doesn’t seem so bad after all. Good luck!


Dealing with rejection

Dealing with rejection

If you want to work in the media or you already do, then you’ll know or soon realise that rejection is part and parcel of having a media career. It’s not all doom and gloom though so step away from that bottle of Pinot Grigio and some haunting Celine Dion ballads and realise that rejection can be a good thing.

Here are my tips on dealing with rejection, how to avoid conflict, and how not to take it personally.

Realise everyone faces rejection

There are very few people that sail through their Tv careers getting exactly the jobs they want, when they want them. It’s a tough, competitive business and can be very dog eat dog at times. There is often as well more people going for less roles. If you know people in the industry, talk to them and they will tell you stories of persistence and hard work.

They don’t hate you…

it’s really hard not to take rejection as a slur on who you are as a person. This is really hard not to do, I totally understand that. You’ve applied for your dream job, and haven’t heard back, or you got so close with a final interview and you didn’t get that job. It’s tough it really is, but the worst thing you can do is go into a vicious cycle of “I’m not good enough”. Instead try to think, “I did my best and this time it’s not meant to be”. Also don’t beat yourself up with coulda woulda shouldas, “if only I’d said this, if only I’d mentioned that” Well you know what you didn’t so get over it. You can’t change what’s done, only learn from it.

Ask for feedback and really listen

If feedback is available or even if no one has mentioned it but you have a contact then chase feedback. This can allay your fears and help stop that vicious cycle of “I’m just shit” or “was it because if the spinach in my teeth” or “did that dress show to much cleavage.was that it?” You can make 101 different stories in your head about why you didn’t get that job but unless you ask someone you won’t know if any of them are true. Sometimes people when giving feedback want to be polite and not offend but probe them and ask questions, in a friendly manner. Be open to listening about yourself and be unafraid of criticism. So often when delivering feedback I am met with either a wall of defensiveness or a wall of arrogance, both of which are unappealing. It’s no good saying “well I thought you would understand what I meant by that” well you know what I didn’t, and maybe you should have been clearer. I’ve also experienced “I just don’t understand why I didn’t get the job and she did” As an interviewer no one likes their judgement questioned or someone arrogantly assuming they did better than everyone else, when quite frankly they don’t know that. You may feel angry and that you deserve the role but by questioning and bad mouthing the interviewers and other candidates you are damaging potential future opportunities with that company. I’ve seen it a million times people say “oh she was so nice and dignified about not getting the job and said thank you for the opportunity” now that person is going to be offered something along the line much more so than the person who’s bitched and moaned about the outrage of not getting the job.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

When you are starting out, get your cv to as many places as possible, don’t be snobby about where you work but rather think about how that job will build up your skills and develop you. Everyone wants to work on big flagship programmes that’s understandable and great. However that small production will have less applicants and probably more opportunities for you. For me when looking for jobs I like to make lists and goals, for example contact 5 people this week, send cv to 10, get 4 meetings. That works for me and keeps me motivated. Also then you always have something to hear back from, rather than putting all your efforts into one thing and then when you don’t get it, feeling crushed, despaired and have to sort all over again.

Don’t go cray cray on social media or to colleagues

You need to think sometimes about how you come across, both in good situations and also under pressure or when things don’t go your way. No one likes someone who throws their toys out of the pram and throws a tantrum. It makes you look immature and affects your professional reputation. Of course you might be angry, but save that for a rant in the pub with friends or a long chat to your parents/loved one. You have to sometimes accept that you didn’t get the job and move on.

Also if you think that bitching with your colleagues about how unfair it all is doesn’t get back to your boss or talent manager then you are being stupid. People remember this stuff.

Keep your rants off social media as you never know who can see that, not only the people that interviewed you but also future employers. One candidate I interviewed that didn’t get a job, went on twitter proclaiming all sorts of injustice and publicly slagging me off. Now some of my contacts In the BBC and at independent production companies saw this and withdrew offers. Extreme but they thought I don’t want that kind of person working for me.

So get down the pub with your mates slag whoever off with all your might, but don’t put it on Social media and don’t burn your bridges with potential employers.

Develop a thicker skin but don’t lose yourself

It’s not about you, you are not a horrible person, you are just not right for that job. The person that got that job you might think isn’t right either, but that’s not your decision. Keep focused on you, your next move and you know what you can deal with rejection by crumbling and giving up or you can develop a f**k you mentality and think “I’ll show them”. If possible keep in touch with your interviewers/ talent managers update them on new skills, projects and jobs you’ve got, that’s really positive and works so much better than “hi, I’m still looking for a job..”

I think it’s essential that you see rejection for what it is, which is merely not your time, or a lesson to be learned. Don’t become hard faced or bitter or ruthless, focus on what you need to do but stay true to yourself. If someone doesn’t want to employ you based on who you are then you know what you don’t want to work there!